Uber and Lyft halt operations in Austin over security measure

Though the companies spent $8 million on marketing to avoid fingerprinting in their background checks, voters in Texas’ capital city forced them to comply or leave.

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Uber and Lyft spent a reported $8 million on ads and marketing efforts to avoid fingerprinting as part of background checks for their ridesharing drivers. The companies have always sought to manage their own background checks and threatened to leave Austin, Texas if the measure passed.

It passed. Uber and Lyft, which have had an acrimonious past, shelled out around $200 per vote in a losing effort where 56 percent of Austin’s voters said they did not want the companies to regulate themselves.

Both companies plan to make good on the promise and will pause their operations in the city starting today.

They have faced criticism recently about the way background checks—or lack thereof—that drivers receive before they’re hired. Many point to an Uber driver’s shooting spree in Kalamazoo earlier this year as a major reason to bring in more stringent background checks.

Austin’s mayor, Steve Adler, tweeted that he wants the companies to stay:

The people have spoken clearly tonight. Uber & Lyft are welcome to stay & I invite them to the table regardless. (1/2)

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