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City, Startups Fumble on First Effort to Fill Gap Left by Uber and Lyft

Some drivers were misinformed about fees due to confusion over ordinance

A "driver fair" held by the city on Tuesday in an effort to get more transportation network company drivers back on the road after Uber and Lyft left Austin last week revealed some details in the process yet to be ironed out, the Austin Monitor reported today.

Intended to facilitate required background checks and fingerprinting for TNC drivers, the fair drew crowds of displaced drivers to its ACC Highland Campus, according to the story (which was produced through a partnership between the Monitor and KUT). Unfortunately, many had received emails from fledgling ride-hailing companies GetMe and Fare that indicated that the city would pay for background checks, which was not the case.

According to the story, an Austin Transportation Department official said that the current ordinance does not require the city to pay for such checks, but merely indicates that it may do so. The spokesman indicated that the city doesn't have the funds for fingerprinting, the report added, as those would come from fees the city will charge ride-hailing companies, which it has not yet collected.

As things stood on the day of the fair, drivers were expected to pay $39.95 to cover the cost of fingerprinting done by a company called MorphoTrust, contracted by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Monitor reported. To assuage misinformed drivers, Fare will reimburse drivers for the fee in their first few paychecks, the story added, while airport service Wingz will not. GetMe employees did not comment for the story.

Some confusion at Austin’s first ride-hailing driver fair [Austin Monitor]