Lyft starts luring back Austin drivers

On Thursday, Lyft called on Austin drivers to come back and sign up with the ride-hailing company. (CBS Austin)

On Thursday, Lyft called on drivers to come back and sign up with the ride-hailing company. It sent its former Austin drivers a welcome back text which is another sign Uber and Lyft are already making plans to return to Austin.

The big two can start operating after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs a bill overriding local rules and creating statewide regulations for ride-hailing companies. All the competition should have drivers earning more and riders paying less.

Will McCrory is ready to deal. He used to drive for Lyft and is reactivating with the hope the ride-sharing company will make it worth his while.

“I think Uber and Lyft are going to offer some really strong incentives for drivers and riders and pretty much operate at a loss until they force all the other ride-sharing companies out of the market,” said McCrory.

The Lyft Hub opened Thursday afternoon at 1021 E. 7th Street and saw a steady stream of drivers ready to get back on the platform. Lyft isn't revealing specifics on what it will do to lure back drivers and riders until Governor Abbott signs the bill into law.

“They don't really have a very good reputation here right now,” said Joshua Baer, founder and executive director of Capital Factory, an incubator and workspace for startups.

Baer says the little guys like Fasten, Fare and Ride Austin have their advantages, but likely won't be able to compete for tourists and newcomers.

“Everyone who lands in Austin, who doesn't even know anything about this stuff, they're going to still open up their phone and call for an Uber or call for a Lyft,” said Baer.

Baer also things Austin doesn’t have room for five or more ride-hailing companies. He thinks the system works better with one or two players.

“If everybody is on the same platform it’s more likely when you hit that button somebody's going to show up really fast. So it just makes the whole system work better,” said Baer.

In the short-term riders are expected to come out ahead. All the competition will let them pay less for faster service.

“In the end the consumers are who is going to win. We're the ones who are going to win while they all duke it out,” said Baer.