While Lyft and Uber are celebrating, the city isn't. The bill, HB 100, would override the state's 20-plus local ordinances and require ride-sharing companies to conduct criminal background and sex offender checks for drivers -- but allow them to use ones they prefer. Uber's internal checks have failed to discover criminal records before, and when Massachusetts enacted tougher background research rules last month, over 8,000 current drivers were rejected for violent/sexual crimes or drunk or reckless driving. Doubtless these enhanced checks aim to weed out predatory chauffeurs -- like Uber drivers who have sexually assault passengers, which the company has tried wiggling out of legal responsibility for.
Once Lyft and Uber activate their drivers, both ride-sharing titans will have to compete with local operators that sprung up in the interim. Companies like Fare and Fasten along with the nonprofit ride-hailing service RideAustin complied with Austin's rules, which were passed by the city to raise the standards of ride-sharing drivers to match taxi drivers (who are required to submit fingerprints and pass background checks). Whether the homegrown services retain their lead once the industry-dominating Lyft and Uber return depends on the passengers -- and how they'll vote with their wallet.