by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
The Austin American-Statesman reports that:
Uber is … launching a horse and buggy version of its service meant to simulate what the service would be reduced to if Austin City Council’s regulations passed.
The “special service” is named after Council Member Ann Kitchen, the chair of the Mobility Committee that reopened the debate over regulating ride-hailing services this fall after a yearlong grace period.
“Kitchen’s plan would require Uber driver partners to undergo the same background requirements of horse and carriage operators in Austin,” Uber spokesperson Debbee Hancock said in an email. “One would hope that the City’s laws would innovate with technology but in this instance, that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
Those “19th century” background requirements? Fingerprint-based criminal background checks. Uber, as well as its competitor Lyft, currently perform name-based background checks on prospective drivers in lieu of fingerprint-based checks, which they argue would limit their driver pool because it would cut out potential drivers who were arrested but never convicted.
“The fact that a corporation is attacking a council because they don’t want to comply with rules — it’s disgraceful,” Kitchen said when asked for a comment about “Kitchen’s Uber.”