The worldwide strike by Uber and Lyft drivers could have affected some of the transit service in Denton County on Wednesday, but by midday, DCTA officials announced they had suffered no interruptions.
The Denton County Transportation Authority has a 2-year-old contract with Lyft to serve a tiny fraction of its ridership. Officials pledged Wednesday to let riders know whether they expected any disruptions.
“DCTA is working with Lyft to ensure service runs as smooth as possible during today’s Uber and Lyft strike,” officials said.
Highland Village riders can use Lyft to get from home to the train station or across town. And after University of North Texas buses return to the yard at the end of the day, students can get a late-night ride home through Lyft. Through the contract, DCTA reimburses Lyft up to $10 per ride.
Lyft contract representatives did not answer specific questions related to its contract with DCTA, including whether it had formally notified DCTA of the potential disruption or how many Denton County drivers had signed out of the phone application Wednesday.
Instead, the press office sent the same prepared statement it provided to other news media in the wake of the strike:
“Lyft drivers’ hourly earnings have increased 7% over the last two years, and they have earned more than $14 billion since we launched. Over 75 percent drive less than 10 hours a week to supplement existing jobs. On average, Lyft drivers earn more than $20 per hour. We know that access to flexible, extra income makes a big difference for millions of people, and we’re constantly working to improve how we can best serve our driver community.”
The protests arrived ahead of Uber’s initial public stock offering Friday. Uber hopes to raise $9 billion, putting the company’s valuation at more than $91 billion and possibly becoming one of the largest IPOs in the U.S.
Driver demonstrations protested low wages and unstable working conditions in 10 U.S. cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, as well as in London and some other European cities. The disruptions appeared minimal, and many riders were able to hail a car.
It’s not the first time that app-hailed drivers have staged protests. Ahead of Lyft’s $2.34 billion IPO last month, drivers in Los Angeles, San Diego and other California cities demonstrated, though the disruption to riders appeared to be minimal then, too. Drivers in more cities participated in Wednesday’s protest.
Texas law does not allow public employees to strike. Dallas transit employees lost their seniority in 1980 after a strike there, according to Kenneth Day, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1338.
The local union negotiates collective bargaining agreements for DCTA bus drivers. DCTA bus drivers can strike, but only under limited circumstances, Day said.
“Once we have a signed agreement, the employer agrees not to lock out employees and the union agrees not to strike,” Day said.
In other words, the only time DCTA risks a strike is when a collective bargaining agreement — typically a three-year term — expires.
The union’s agreement with First Transit and Transit Management of Denton County is expected to be transferred Friday to the North Texas Mobility Corporation. While NTMC is a government corporation that functions almost like a subsidiary of DCTA, the union expects to retain its collective bargaining rights including its right to strike with the transfer, Day said.