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Uber, Lyft set to leave Austin, Tx. over fingerprinting rule

Staff writer |
Uber and Lyft are set to quit Austin, Tx. after voters on Saturday said fingerprinting should be part of driver background checks.

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The companies had poured $8.6 million into a campaign to keep fingerprinting, which can be expensive and time-consuming, out of driver checks.

Results from the vote on Proposition One — the most expensive campaign in city history — showed 56 percent in favor of fingerprint checks, compared 44 percent against, according to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.

The vote came after the City Council passed an ordinance in December that, among other rules for ride-sharing companies, required their drivers to undergo fingerprint-based background checks by February 1, 2017.

Uber and Lyft announced after the results of Saturday's vote that they were set to suspend operations in Austin, the capital city of Texas, on Monday morning.

"Disappointment does not begin to describe how we feel about shutting down operations in Austin," Uber Austin general manager Chris Nakutis said in a statement.

"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."

Lyft added in its own statement: "We're very disappointed to leave the Lyft Austin community—and we hope to come back soon. If you'd like to help make Austin rideshare-friendly again, reach out to your City Council member and tell them."

Currently, New York and Houston are the only U.S. cities that require fingerprinting for ride-sharing drivers, media reports said.

Uber has threatened to pull out of Houston if fingerprinting rules aren't changed, saying they hamper driver recruitment.

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