The two companies are coming back now because state lawmakers passed legislation, which Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign Monday, that removes a controversial requirement that prospective drivers have their fingerprints run through an Federal Bureau of Investigation database that tracks people's criminal activity over the course of their lives. The companies followed through on threats to leave rather than submit to the local rules, and quickly turned their efforts to lobbying for statewide regulations.
Uber will return to Austin on Monday, May 29. The move comes one year after the ride-hailing services left the area over a driver-background check dispute with city regulators and voters.
Lyft and Uber both left Austin shortly after the May 2016 vote on Proposition 1, which requires ride-hailing drivers in Austin to undergo fingerprint background checks.
Uber and Lyft fiercely opposed the rules, gathering petition signatures to force a public vote and spending almost $9 million on an unsuccessful campaign asking voters to overturn the regulations. "As we've said for months, we will relaunch in the city as soon as Gov. Abbott signs HB 100 into law", Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Harrison said.
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The two ride-sharing services are expected to restart operations in Austin on Monday, according to Engadget. Ride Austin told local outlet AustinInno its strategy is to entice drivers with better pay and treatment compared to what the larger companies offer. HB 100 would create statewide regulations for TNCs.
The company said they are excited to return to Austin and said they "will be working harder than ever" to improve mobility and traffic congestion. Austin Mayor Steve Adler says the bill stifles local control.
Uber and Lyft fled Austin after losing a bruising and expensive fight to replace the city's ordinance that required fingerprint-based background checks of drivers, a variety of data reporting and other requirements.