Uber says adios Austin: Is Houston the next city to be dumped?
Will Houston be the next to lose Uber and Lyft? Following Austin voters' rejection of Proposition 1, relaxing ridesharing regulations including fingerprinting requirements for all drivers, the two companies announced on Sunday that as of Monday, May 9, they would halt operations there.
This comes on the heels of a threat late last month by Uber to pull out of Houston if the city did not repeal its fingerprinting requirement. Mayor Sylvester Turner was not amused and declared safety first, ridesharing companies second. So now in Houston, Uber and Lyft fans are holding their breath.
In a statement on Sunday, Turner said, "The city of Houston will not compromise on public safety either. If an election were held here, I believe voters would choose the same outcome as Austin."
Following announcement of the Austin vote, Uber said in a statement, "Disappointment does not begin to describe how we feel about shuttering operations in Austin. But as you’ve heard before, we simply cannot operate under the City’s new rules. As of Monday, May 9, at 8 a.m., Uber will no longer be available within Austin city limits."
Fingerprinting was not the only issue in Austin. In December of 2015, the city council imposed a number of ridesharing regulations not only including fingerprinting but also “trade dress” for all rideshare vehicles, prohibitions on where drivers can pick up and drop off passengers, and a data reporting requirement.
“Lyft and Austin are a perfect match and we want to stay in the city. Unfortunately, the rules passed by City Council don’t allow true ridesharing to operate," a Lyft statement reads. "Instead, they make it harder for part-time drivers, the heart of Lyft’s peer-to-peer model, to get on the road and harder for passengers to get a ride. Because of this, we have to take a stand for a long-term path forward that lets ridesharing continue to grow across the country, and will pause operations in Austin on Monday, May 9th.” (Operative word "pause.")
"But we’re not giving up. We will continue fighting for people in Austin to have modern options like Lyft."
USA Today reports that the the companies spent $8 million on its campaign in support of the proposition.
Stay tuned for the next step in Houston's ridesharing industry.