Ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft are resuming operation in Austin, Texas, today. This comes after Texas lawmakers voted to override regulations placed on the two companies last year. Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) is expected to sign this important piece of legislation–House Bill 100— into law this afternoon.
Here’s more on this development:
The bill supersedes Austin’s fingerprinting requirement for ride-hailing companies. Uber and Lyft stopped operating in the city more than a year ago, after Austinites voted to require fingerprinting as part of background checks for drivers. The new statewide law requires annual background checks, but not fingerprinting.
Uber issued the following “apology” ahead of their return to the Texas capital:
We’re sorry, Austin—for leaving the way we did; for letting an honest disagreement about regulations and consumer choice turn into a public fight; and most of all, for not being able to serve you for the last year. It was never our intention, but we let down drivers, riders, and the broader Austin community. We’ve spent the last year listening carefully and learning from the mistakes we made. While we can’t change how we got here, we can and will commit to getting it right this time around.
Before we get to work, we want to thank all of the drivers who make ridesharing a reality in Austin: Tens of thousands of people rely on you to get around safely every week, and this city isn’t the same without your hard work and kindness. Earning back your trust is our number one priority. Whether you plan to drive with Uber in the future or not, thank you for everything you do for this amazing city.
Austin, we know that we have a lot of work to do, but we couldn’t be more excited for the road ahead. We hope you’ll come along for the ride.
As previously reported here at The Resurgent, the two companies were rooted out of the Texas capital after a ballot measure slated to embolden them failed at the ballot box. The contention over Uber and Lyft in Austin lied in the city’s interest in “creating a level playing field” at the expense of competition. Moreover, the contention with Proposition 1 went beyond a finger-printing system, ultimately as a scheme to coerce and collect data from the two ride-sharing companies.
The ridesharing bill–Proposition 1– failed by a 56-44 margin, with only 17 percent of registered voters in Travis County turning out to vote. Since the companies were forcibly removed from Austin in May 2016, drunk driving spiked 7.5 percent. Had this legislation not been signed into law, Uber and Lyft drivers would have been subjected to having their fingerprints scanned. The reversal of this bad policy should help curb drunk driving as it did before.
This is a small but positive step in the right direction. Local governments and their union acolytes need to get off the backs of these innovative companies once and for all. People depend on these services to make a living. Why continue to deprive all Americans–including Austinites– of their lifestyle and career choices?