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Uber, Lyft will return to Austin after fingerprinting hissy fit

You can thank the state legislature for this.


One year ago, Uber and Lyft removed their services from Austin, Texas, citing onerous ride-hailing regulations within city limits. Now, they're back -- or they will be, starting on Memorial Day.

Uber and Lyft will both resume operations within Texas' capital on Monday after state legislators passed a bill overriding last year's new regulations. Governor Abbott is expected to sign the bill into law on Monday, as well.

It'll be interesting to see what Austin residents will do when its homegrown startups begin competing with Uber and Lyft.

Victoria Chen/Getty Images

Neither Uber nor Lyft immediately returned requests for comment, but both companies have confirmed their return to The Texas Tribune.

The two companies parted ways with Austin after it passed legislation requiring ride-hailing companies to fingerprint its drivers, presumably for the safety of the riders. Both Uber and Lyft felt that was too onerous, and in May 2016, both companies left Austin after failing to get voters to overturn the new regulations.

That didn't stop Austin's ride-hailing economy -- it merely changed it. Several startups, such as Fasten and RideAustin, promised to comply with the fingerprinting regulations, and have been operating in that vacuum since. With the titans set to return in a matter of days, it will prove interesting whether Austin residents will stick with what they use now, or go back to Uber and Lyft.

This new law, which Governor Abbott is expected to sign (he has not confirmed that he will, at least not yet), expands the scope of ride-hailing regulations to create a statewide framework, which will override Austin's regulations. It won't require fingerprinting, but it will require annual state and national background checks, and companies must seek a permit from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.