Politics

There's One Safety Requirement That Lyft and Uber Are Fighting Tooth and Nail

May 9th 2016

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

Uber and Lyft, who would usually be competitors, have teamed up in Austin, Texas, but it's not to provide services to the area. The companies are partnering up to do quite the opposite, CNN reports.

To protest Austin voters' Saturday decision to require fingerprinting as a part of background checks for ride-sharing drivers, Uber and Lyft suspended service in the city completely, leaving drivers and riders stranded. But it's not the first time they've done it.

Lyft screenshot from an Austin customer.

Uber and Lyft have pulled similar tactics in Columbus, Ohio, and Broward County, Florida. Both companies did return to those cities.

The rideshare services have also made threats to pull out of Houston, all to prevent finger print safety requirements that the companies say would prevent them from hiring enough drivers, according to CNN.

In this recent Austin protest, Uber and Lyft sent out emails on Saturday to inform their customers that service would be suspended on Monday. Uber said that the company "simply cannot operate under the City's new rules."

Screenshot from an Uber customer in Austin.

Lyft let its customers know that as of 5 a.m. Monday their service would end, also claiming that ride-sharing had decreased drunk driving in Austin.

The two companies spent more than $8 million to campaign against the new requirement, but the 53 percent vote against them this past weekend put the new fingerprint requirement in place, according to Fortune.

The city of Austin wasn't planning on rushing these companies out.

Austin gave Uber and Lyft until February 2017 to comply with the law or receive a fine. Austin's Mayor Steve Adler even tweeted a welcoming message after the vote.

But Uber and Lyft weren't having any of it and pulled out anyway.

Austin resident and former part-time Lyft driver Michael Love, 28, told ATTN: that he mostly feels anxious about this new move. Like many passengers he's left without an affordable mode of transportation and like many drivers he now lost an income stream.

"For me, beyond my feelings and thoughts on the issues raised in debates over how Uber and Lyft treat their drivers/ employees, there is a bit of frustration over the loss of what was an easy way to get around the city and to ensure that I could get home safely on weekend nights. The only feasible, efficient transportation option for me now is to drive. I'm also a bit nervous about what the roads will be like on Friday and Saturday nights. Designating drivers is now even more necessary. Additionally, as a freelancer who drove for Lyft, I'm now without one of my income sources."

People on social media were mostly surprised that Uber and Lyft are gone.

Bob Colayco posted that he had mixed feelings about Uber and Lyft's move to leave.

Jill Harrison posted on Facebook that she doesn't believe fingerprints will stop Uber and Lyft from making money. She thinks that the companies can afford to fingerprint drivers.

But not everyone on Facebook was pro-regulation.

Thomas Weber posted that the city of Austin just wants some of the ride-share money.

 

 

Lyft reportedly has 10,000 Austin-based drivers, Techcrunch reports. Uber has not yet revealed the number of drivers using the ride-sharing app in the city.

[This story was updated at 7:09 a.m. EST to reflect that one of the comments embedded in this piece can no longer be viewed by the public on Facebook.]

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