Ride-share companies Lyft and Uber plan to resume their operations in Austin, Texas, on Monday, more than a year after both companies pulled out of the city following the rejection of a measure that would have restrictions on the ride-share companies in the city.
The return for both companies follows the passage of HB100 by the Texas legislature, which Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign on Monday. The bill stipulates that the ability to regulate ride-share companies is controlled by the state, not municipalities. As such, a city such as Austin can’t impose its own local taxes, licensing requirements, rates, or any sort of operational requirement on companies such as Uber or Lyft.
Uber revealed on Friday that it would resume its operations, apologizing to the city for “for letting an honest disagreement about regulations and consumer choice turn into a public fight,” while a Lyft spokesperson said that the company was “excited to return,” and that it will relaunch on Monday as soon as the bill is signed.
Ride-share companies must still obtain a permit and conduct background checks
However, the new legislation doesn’t let the companies off the hook: they must obtain a permit and pay a fee to operate in the state, and must perform annual background checks on their drivers.
Last year, Austin voters defeated Proposition 1, a local measure that would have barred the city from requiring drivers to get fingerprinted for background checks, a requirement that Lyft and Uber said would hurt their business. Once signed, HB100 will roll back Austin’s requirements for drivers. Austin Mayor Steve Adler expressed his disappointment with the bill’s passage, saying that the city should “should be proud of how we filled the gap created when Uber and Lyft left, and we now must hope that they return ready to compete in a way that reflects Austin’s values.”