Uber and Lyft made the city of Austin their Alamo. Bid Wallace wore a big grin as he pulled his silver SUV into the Austin parking lot where I was waiting for a ride.
“Everybody is smiling today,” he told me as I climbed in.
After a year-long hiatus, Wallace last month was driving again for Lyft in the Texas capital. It was his first day back, and work was steady.
In May 2016, both Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin after a bitter showdown with local regulators. City lawmakers had passed an ordinance the previous December requiring, among other things, that ride-hailing companies add fingerprint background checks for their drivers. Uber and Lyft refused to comply, saying their private background checks were thorough enough. They called the requirements overly burdensome.
It was a standstill — until last month, when Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed a bill that overrode all local ride-hailing laws in the state. Uber and Lyft can now operate anywhere in Texas without fingerprinting their drivers.
“A patchwork quilt of compliance complexities are forcing businesses out of the Lone Star State,” Abbott said in a statement when he passed the law. “My goal as Governor is to remove the barriers […]