All across Texas, battles are raging between the fans and foes of ridesharing. Ridesharing mainstay Uber officially suspended  operations in Corpus Christi March 13 after the city passed burdensome new restrictions on the service. Over the past two years, Uber and/or Lyft similarly have withdrawn  from operating in Houston and San Antonio, and may withdraw from Austin, as well.
At issue in all of these cases is the sufficiency of background checks required of rideshare drivers. While Uber and Lyft both require background checks for their drivers, they have resisted mandatory fingerprint background checks, arguing that this would deter part-time drivers who make up the bulk of drivers who use their platform.
As I’ve written before , rideshare companies are right to be skeptical of fingerprint-based background checks. The FBI background check database, which is typically used to run the checks, is not a collection of information about convictions, but rather, about arrests. In fact, roughly half of all records in the FBI database do not indicate whether the arrest in question ultimately resulted in a conviction. Given that a third of arrests do not result in a conviction (and that minority groups are disproportionately likely to be arrested), mandatory fingerprinting ought to be treated with skepticism.
While controversies involving ridesharing have typically been hashed out in city council chambers, the fight is increasingly moving to the public at large. After the Austin City Council passed a mandatory fingerprint requirement late last year, a successful petition drive  managed to get the issue put on the ballot for the May election. It appears that a similar strategy is in play in Corpus Christi. On Tuesday, supporters of ridesharing filed  a letter of intent to seek a referendum on the issue with the city government.
Ridesharing tends to be popular and can inspire devotion among many users and drivers alike. Whether that support will translate into victory at the ballot box remains to be seen.
- “officially suspended”: http://www.kiiitv.com/story/31467225/uber-officially-pulls-service-from-corpus-christi
- “similarly have withdrawn”: http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/taxi-trouble-in-texas/
- “As I’ve written before”: http://www.rstreet.org/2016/01/11/fingerprint-background-checks-not-as-reliable-as-you-think/
- “successful petition drive”: https://www.texastribune.org/2016/01/19/austin-group-gathers-65103-signatures-overturn-ube/
- “filed”: http://www.kiiitv.com/story/31488726/cab-company-weighs-in-on-uber-drama