With Uber and Lyft having pulled out of Austin over legislation mandating biometric background checks for drivers last December, city officials are proceeding with new legislation enforcing the checks.
That enforcement is arriving in the form of fines. Ride-hailing companies that fail to comply with Austin’s graduated background check program will need to pay one percent of their revenues to the city and will not have access to major events, and any companies that ultimately fail to perform background checks for 99 percent of their drivers by the February 2017 deadline will lose their credentials as service operators, though there will be a three-month grace period.
With other ride-hailing companies such as Wingz picking up where Uber and Lyft left off, Austin may serve as an example to other cities and states considering biometric background checks for such services. New Jersey, for example, is a current front for the battle, with Uber and Lyft both threatening to leave the lucrative market if biometric background checks are imposed; the success of alternative services in a city like Austin may help to undercut those threats.
While traditional taxi organizations and the IBIA have business interests in seeing biometric background checks mandated for these new ride-hailing services, they argue that the checks will help to ensure passenger safety.
Source: The Daily Texan
July 11, 2016 – by Alex Perala