Monday, May 09, 2016

Legal fiasco over Uber and Lyft in Austin TX sets a warning example for other cities (especially DC, with its Metro crisis)

Ride-sharing (or "ride-hailing") companies Uber and Lyft have ceased operation in Austin TX, after the city passed a law requiring fingerprint background checks of drivers (which sounds pretty sensible to me), as of early today.  WJLA has a story here. Wall Street Journal has a story today by Douglas MacMillan and Rachel Silverman

Uber uses a service called Checkr. The companies say that the Austin Live Scan service is too slow and costly and would interfere unduly with signing up legitimate drivers.

Voters in Austin refused to overturn the law with a referendum Saturday.

Austin is the largest US city without Uber, but there seem to be issues with both companies in Houston.  Uber has had controversies in Portland OR, Las Vegas and Miami but resumed operations after reaching agreements.

I’m not aware of any problems in the Washington area, but Uber and Lyft could become critically important to area residents when Metro shutdowns weekend after midnight service June 3 as part of a year long track rebuilding plan.

Generally, city regulators and voters have often been callous on transportation and zoning issues, voting in regulations that force many businesses to close or move and cost many lower income jobs.  Complicating all of this is the politics of liquor licenses, too.  Washington DC could be tested again pretty soon.

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