Lyft and Uber to pause operations in Austin following fingerprint checks vote

May 9, 2016 - 

Lyft and Uber will temporarily cease operations in Austin, Texas, following a city vote that rejected a ballot measure that would have reversed a city requirement for drivers to go through fingerprint-based background check. according to a report by BuzzFeed News.

The move comes a few months after Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen began pushing for changes to be made to transportation network companies (TNC) regulations which would enforce Lyft and Uber drivers to undergo fingerprint-based background checks.

Both companies tried to enlist the support of their customers in their fight against the measure. Uber texted customers in Austin asking them to vote for the bill, while Lyft emailed its customers asking them to do the same.

Despite these efforts, Austin voters rejected Proposition 1 by a 56 to 44 percent margin on Saturday.

Lyft released a statement shortly after the vote stating that it would “pause operations” in Austin on Monday.

“Lyft and Austin are a perfect match and we want to stay in the city,” Lyft said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the rules passed by the City Council don’t allow true ridesharing to operate.”

The ridesharing company said that its decision is necessary in order to “take a stand for a long-term path forward that lets ridesharing continue to grow across the country.”

In a brief statement, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said that Austin residents “have spoken clearly tonight.”

Uber also released a statement confirming that it too would cease operating in Austin, but would continue to serve surrounding areas.

“Disappointment does not begin to describe how we feel about shutting down operations in Austin,” Uber said in the statement. “We hope the City Council will reconsider their ordinance so we can work together to make the streets of Austin a safer place for everyone.”

Los Angeles has also been pushing for stricter background checks on drivers for ridesharing companies.

The city’s mayor and several city council members have told Uber that its background checks are insufficient, and are considering implementing a pilot program to make drivers go through fingerprint background checks.

Uber reportedly began quietly testing Live Scan fingerprinting on drivers in Los Angeles and Burbank, last fall.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.