Uber, Lyft Spend Massive, Lose Huge in Austin Vote on Driver Fingerprinting

On-demand experience corporations Uber and Lyft suffered an embarrassing defeat in a Saturday election in Austin as voters backed a measure requiring fingerprint background checks for drivers.

The 2 corporations spent greater than $eight million to repeal a metropolis ordinance requiring the fingerprint-based mostly legal checks and launched what became the costliest race within the Texas capital’s historical past. Voters stated by a margin of fifty six to forty four % they needed the fingerprint checks to remain.

Uber, Lyft Spend Big, Lose Big in Austin Vote on Driver Fingerprinting Uber, Lyft Spend Big, Lose Big in Austin Vote on Driver Fingerprinting

Marketing campaign indicators regarding a municipal vote over fingerprint necessities for journey-hailing corporations resembling Uber and Lyft are seen alongside a roadway in Austin, Texas, Might 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz REUTERS

The businesses outspent their opponents by eighty-to-1 and when the votes have been tallied their marketing campaign contributions broke right down to being greater than $200 for every vote in favor of their place.

"Disappointment doesn’t start to explain how we really feel about shutting down operations in Austin," Uber’s Austin basic supervisor Chris Nakutis stated in a press release.

The stakes have been excessive for the privately held Uber and Lyft, which say their background checks are already rigorous and guarantee security.

"Sadly, the principles handed by Metropolis Council do not permit true ridesharing to function," Lyft stated, including it’ll droop operations in Austin as of Monday.

The loss might prod different cities to require fingerprint legal background checks, inspired that they will survive a bruising electoral battle with the experience-hailing providers, analysts stated.

The pricey municipal election in Austin got here as different cities contemplate imposing fingerprint-based mostly background checks on drivers. The Austin election marked the primary time a serious U.S. metropolis put the laws to a vote, which occurred after a petition drive by Ridesharing Works for Austin, the political motion group underwritten by Uber and Lyft.

"Sadly, the principles handed by Metropolis Council do not permit true ridesharing to function," Lyft stated, including it should droop operations in Austin as of Monday.

Residents have been requested to determine whether or not a transportation ordinance handed by the Metropolis Council in December ought to be repealed and changed with one backed by the on-demand experience corporations.

The town ordinance requires all experience-hailing service drivers to have fingerprint-based mostly legal background checks, whereas the journey-hailing corporations backed one that doesn’t.

The group supporting mandated fingerprinting stated the heavy spending was a sign that the Uber and Lyft marketing campaign was motivated extra by company income than passenger security.

Different locations battling over fingerprints embrace Atlanta and Houston, which together with New York is among the two main U.S. cities the place Uber operates regardless that its drivers are required to bear the fingerprint background checks.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz)