AUSTIN (AP/KXAN) — On Memorial Day, Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign a bill that supersedes Austin’s fingerprinting requirement for ride-hailing companies. Uber and Lyft confirms to KXAN they will be operational in Austin the very same day.
Lyft drivers received a text message Thursday morning stating, “Start your engines! We’re re-launching in Austin on Monday. See you on the road soon!”
Uber and Lyft extricated themselves from Austin more than a year ago, after Austinites voted to require ride-hailing drivers to submit to fingerprinting as part of their background checks. The new statewide law requires annual background checks, but not fingerprinting.
“We’re very sorry for how we left Austin and we know that we made some mistakes and it was incumbent on us to do some things differently and that’s what we’ve been listening and trying to do and planning for,” Trevor Theunissen with Uber Texas says. Uber won’t be fingerprinting but they say their process is thorough.
The Texas Senate approved the bill 21-9 on May 17. Initially, the vote was 20-10, but Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, went back and voted for House Bill 100 so the Senate could have a two-thirds vote, which would allow the law to go into effect immediately once the governor signs it.
Companies that were started in the wake of Uber and Lyft leaving worry they will lose drivers and riders to the “Silicon Valley giants.” Ride Austin says if they fall from their 50,000-60,000 riders a week down to less than 20,000 because of this, they will have to shut down. “I do believe that Uber and Lyft are going to come in with their $12 billion in cash and they are going to try and crush the local nonprofit,” said Andy Tryba, CEO of Ride Austin
“I’m disappointed that the legislature chose to nullify the bedrock principles of self-governance and limited government by imposing regulations on our city over the objection of Austin voters,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler on Thursday. “Our city should be proud of how we filled the gap created when Uber and Lyft left, and we now must hope that they return ready to compete in a way that reflects Austin’s values.”
“I think we have a lot to prove,” Theunissen said. “We’re going to be investing in the local community a lot more than we did, partnering with nonprofits in the city to try and find ways that we can all solve the problems that are facing the city like congestion and mobility challenges.”