Lyft leaving?

Sorry it’s not working out for you. Best of luck in your future endeavors.


Less than a week before new city regulations take effect, one of two app-based, paid-ride companies is preparing to end its local business rather than use a city-required procedure to conduct background checks.

“We’ve made the very difficult decision that if Houston doesn’t amend its process, we’ve decided we have no choice but to pause operations,” David Estrada, vice president of government operations for Lyft, said Wednesday.

Estrada said the company will ask the city to delay implementing the rules. If it does not do so, he said, Lyft will cease operations in Houston until the process can be streamlined.

“Houston is one market, but our goal is ride-sharing across America,” Estrada said. “We want to be in every market, but we have come to the decision we want to take a stand.” This is the first time Lyft has announced it would leave a market based on local rules.


The rules set to go into effect Tuesday include requirements that drivers present their vehicle for inspection, submit a warrant check and personal information to the city and undergo drug screening.

The companies already take many of these steps, but their procedures are not exactly the same. While the companies use online background checks, Houston requires applicants to use the state’s fingerprint-based background check company. This was a sticking point for Lyft.

“We have found a more efficient way to do these things,” said David Mack, Lyft’s director of public affairs.

The drivers would face expensive drug tests and permits just to do something many consider a hobby or side job. Estrada said drivers consider the process onerous. “It treats them like a criminal first,” Estrada said.

The city-required method would cost drivers about $62. Lyft covers the cost of its procedures when it approves drivers.

I’ve said before that I didn’t quite understand the fuss over this. Seems like a pretty extreme position for Lyft to take, especially given that Uber is apparently prepared to live with it, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. I’ve also said that I’d like to see the rules get reviewed again in a year or so, so maybe they’ll get another crack at this later. The Highwayman, Hair Balls, and Texpatriate have more.

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