It has nothing to do with background checks but everything to do money. Money in the sense that the more drivers Uber has on the road, the cheaper the fare, the cheaper the fare, the more customers. Walmart does it to the expense of it’s workers. You drive there to buy a $2.99 jar of pickles and wait in a 40 minute line because there are no cashiers. You save three dollars instead of going to Publix, Kroger, or any grocery store that doesn’t have a website dedicated to how it’s patrons dress. You think you’re saving money.
I have a secret. I stopped shopping at Walmart when a fight between a man and his family got mad a the single mother in front of him for who got in line first. I left half a cart of items at 10pm in the store because I couldn’t deal with so called adults cursing at each other for something so stupid. I wasn’t going to stand in line for almost an hour and watch this. It’s soul crushing. It’s demoralizing. I ran over to Publix, was out in ten minutes, bought a little less food, but still healthy-cheap, beans, veggies, and coffee. I went home and I didn’t have to deal with Jerry Springer in real life.
Now back to Uber.
Getting a taxi is a Walmart experience. In most cases you have to call for one. You call. They tell you 45 minutes if you’re lucky. You wait. You pray it comes. They drop you off and then tell you, cash only, even though they have a credit card reader. It’s inefficient. You’re grateful if the taxi doesn’t smell like vomit, the driver is polite and speaks some form of English. The reason for these conditions are taxi medallions. Extortion money for the county and state. That creates few drivers, higher prices, and a monopoly they’ve loved since the invention of cars.
Uber went around this by saying they’re just a piece of software, not a taxi company. They don’t own the car and the drivers aren’t employees. Meaning they don’t need to pay for a medallion. Forget for a second if they are or aren’t. You can’t enforce Uber drivers to comply because you don’t know who an Uber driver is. It’s people getting in and out of cars. They knew this and capitalized.
With all the money Uber and Lyft are making in Austin why not just comply with fingerprinting? They could even introduce electronic submission to speed up the process. Easy- a good portion of their drivers won’t pass. Simply to provide a social security and license number. Different story to fake a thumb print. Uber runs backgrounds checks for prior 7 years, the county wants to go back 20. Herd. Thins. Uber knows this. So does Lyft.
What Austin has done, effectively, is created a blueprint to shutting down inexpensive ridesharing. There are alternative taxi apps that meet the requirements in cool town, but they’re more expensive. Just like if Walmart opens up lanes and provides customer service, it’s Publix.