EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Recently voters in Austin gathered and voted not to repeal a law requiring drivers for ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft to be fingerprint checked.
Supporters of the law state that there needed to be some kind of background check on drivers for the protection of riders. Opponents of the law feel it was all about politics and pressures from taxi services to keep Uber and Lyft from the Austin area.
Since the vote did not pass, Uber and Lyft stopped service in Austin last week. Stats from the companies state that the move affected upwards of 10,000 part-time drivers. If you have used a ride-hailing service you know there are conveniences and usually, financial savings associated with the experience but rider safety cannot be ignored.
These companies may not currently be in East Texas but it is probably only a matter of time before one pops up. It does make sense for these services to have to follow some of the same regulations as taxi services – background checks on drivers, fare schedules and the like. At the same time, free enterprises cannot be squashed or industries – especially service industries - will stagnate.
Local municipalities can learn from Austin, which is one of, if not the most liberal city in Texas, and go ahead and set rules on how businesses like Uber and Lyft can operate. That is forward thinking and preparation.
Innovations like the Uber model have a place but they must also play by the rules especially when it comes to user safety.