Voters in Austin, Texas recently rejected a measure that would have exempted ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft from complying with the city’s fingerprint background checks. In protest, Uber and Lyft decided to stop service in Austin, suspending operations as of Monday. A statement from Lyft said the restrictions “make it harder for part-time drivers, the heart of Lyft’s peer-to-peer model, to get on the road and harder for passengers to get a ride.”
Now about 10,000 drivers for the two companies are not working. The vote affects drivers like Michael Haymond, an Austin resident who drove between 30 to 50 hours to support his family and his wife, who suffers from a chronic ailment. Driving for Lyft earned Haymond about $1,000 a week. But with the ride-hailing app no longer in Austin, Haymond says he will instead commute to Dallas or San Antonio on the weekends so that he can continue driving for Lyft.
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Although Haymond said he did not have an issue with being fingerprinted, he did criticize the city’s “scare tactics:” “Basically what they did was establish regulations that they knew would cause Lyft and Uber to leave the city.”
According to Governing:
Only two other cities require fingerprint checks for ride-hailing drivers—Houston and New York City—but there’s a push to do so in others, including Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Uber has also threatened to leave Houston—as Lyft already has—if the city doesn’t repeal its fingerprinting requirements.
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Despite Uber and Lyft spending more than $8.6 million to support the ballot measure, Proposition 1, 56 percent of voters opposed it. CNBC noted that “the companies ironically are retreating in a Texas city known for its tech scene, and support of start-ups. Uber, for example, debuted in Austin in 2011 as a pop-up service at the annual South by Southwest event.”