The City of Austin has enacted a bevy of onerous regulations on electric scooters, the innovative and wildly popular new transportation method that debuted in the city in April.
Last week, many residents of Austin gleefully rejoiced the return of the scooters, after the city had mandated immediate removal of them last month in order to develop a regulatory framework for the industry.
However, their return hasn’t been without cost to both the companies operating them and the customers who enjoy them. The City of Austin, true to form, has imposed a wide-ranging set of egregious regulations on the fledgling industry.
Some of the most onerous include:
- The requirement of an expensive locking mechanism on each scooter.
- Engine power caps that limit the ability of the scooters to traverse Austin’s hilly terrain.
- Complete access of all scooter and customer data afforded to the city.
- Large fees for additional scooters over the first 500
- A plan to the city for rollout of the vehicles into low-income communities that would be unlikely to make use of the vehicles. (However, there are also stiff fees for vehicles that do not get a minimum level of use.)
- Limits on companies’ ability to collect location data on users.
- A 24/7 customer service line, including during times the fleet is not in operation.
These burdensome regulations serve as yet another example of Austin’s nanny-state government, which has never seen an innovative service it did not want to regulate. Be it ride-sharing apps like Uber, short-term rental services like Airbnb, or these new scooters, Austin will always find a way to suffocate consumers and companies alike. The Texas Legislature should take swift action to ensure Austin’s anti-consumer and anti-business attitudes can not be used to harm economic innovation.