Study Finds Trouble in Austin Taxi Industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact
Cynthia Martinez, Communications Director
512.374.2764 or cmartinez@trla.org

AUSTIN, Texas – February 8, 2010 – Taxi drivers in Austin make only $2.75 an hour, according to a new study on the industry released this morning by the Legal Assistance to Microenterprises Project (LAMP), a project of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA).

The study – Driving Austin, Driving Injustice – is the first of its kind in the state of Texas and examines the practices that govern the more than 600 taxi cabs that serve the Austin area, driver working conditions, and the industry atmosphere. LAMP spent more than two months interviewing Austin taxi drivers and researching current city regulations affecting the industry.

The results of the study were startling. Not only did the study find that taxi drivers, on average, make only $2.75 an hour, but the study also found that drivers work about 70 hours a week just to make ends meet, do not have employee benefits, and do not have a voice in the regulations that govern their industry.

“Taxi drivers are an integral part of moving people around the city,” said TRLA attorney and Austin branch manager D’Ann Johnson. “But the ordinances that regulate taxis ignore the interests of the drivers.”

In addition to discovering the low wages earned by drivers, Driving Austin, Driving Injustice also includes a series of recommendations for the City of Austin.

Added Johnson, “Austin needs to take a serious look at how this industry operates and what can be done to improve it. It is time to review the system so that taxis provide needed services, consumers are protected and drivers are treated fairly.”

A copy of the complete study can be found online at http://bit.ly/trlataxistudy.

Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality civil legal assistance and related educational services.

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