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Marketplace Tech

Lyft and Uber say they’re leaving Austin

Donna Tam May 9, 2016
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The Lyft mustache is used to identify the ride-hailing app's drivers. The company, along with rival Uber, said it is leaving Austin after failing to overturn the city's safety measure. 
Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Lyft

Ride-hailing companies said they are leaving Austin after failing this weekend to overturn a city rule that requires fingerprint background checks for drivers.

Voters rejected a nearly $9 million campaign brought by Lyft and Uber to overturn the safety measure. The companies threatened to leave the city, the Austin American-Statesman reported. This could be just the beginning of a major fight for the ride-hailing companies, which face similar restrictions in other cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Uber recently said it would leave Houston, which also has safety measures in place.

After Saturday’s vote, Lyft was the first to announce its intent to leave Austin:

“Lyft and Austin are a perfect match and we want to stay in the city,” Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the rules passed by City Council don’t allow true ridesharing to operate.”

Uber followed suit:

“Disappointment does not begin to describe how we feel about shutting down operations in Austin,” Uber Austin General Manager Chris Nakutis said in an emailed statement. He added: “We hope the City Council will reconsider their ordinance so we can work together to make the streets of Austin a safer place for everyone.”

Voters decided to keep city rules that require ride-hailing company drivers to undergo fingerprint-based background checks by Feb. 1, 2017. Austin also prohibits drivers from stopping in traffic lanes for passenger drop-offs and pickups, includes requirements for identifying vehicles for hire and imposes data reporting on the ride-hailing companies.

Our story from last week discussed the factors surrounding the companies’ campaign, which was the most expensive in Austin’s history. Click on the audio player below to hear more.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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