Having lost a significant ballot vote on Saturday in the city of Austin, ride-share companies Uber and Lyft both announced they were pulling out of the city completely, and as BuzzFeed reports, both apps went off the air in the local area Monday.
The citizens of Austin, Texas apparently rejected the ride-hailing companies' campaign to keep the city from requiring fingerprint-based background checks for all drivers. They got the measure on the ballot to repeal a local ordinance requiring the more stringent checks, and after it passed, Lyft issued a statement saying they'd be "pausing" operations there. "Lyft and Austin are a perfect match and we want to stay in the city," the company told BuzzFeed. "Unfortunately, the rules passed by the City Council don’t allow true ridesharing to operate.”
The companies collectively spent some $8 million to get the repeal measure passed.
As the Wall Street Journal says, Austin is now "the largest U.S. city where Uber isn’t currently available." And as the paper explains, regarding Austin's insistence upon the Live Scan method of background checks with fingerprints, used by the FBI and now required in Austin:
The companies are refusing to yield on this issue in part because the Live Scan method is costlier and takes longer to process. Both companies need to sign up a large number of new drivers on a regular basis to expand to new cities and to replace the high portion of drivers who stop driving after a few months.
Uber pulled a similar tantrum in San Antonio last year, also over local regulations, only to decide to come back and operate in the city after all, as Slate reported last October.