AUSTIN, Texas— Thursday's ride-sharing discussion at the Austin City Council meeting was just one of the steps in a process that may result in a final ordinance approval in November or December -- that's according to Council Member Ann Kitchen, chair of the Mobility Committee.
"We directed our staff to bring us back an ordinance with fingerprints in it. But we also said to them, 'Bring us back more information' so we can make sure we are understanding what the best public safety approach is," Kitchen said.
She's talking about proposals to require fingerprint background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers -- plus requiring those companies to pay fees to the city.
On Thursday, Uber's General Manager of the Austin market, Marco Mccottry expressed his concern.
"We're disappointed that we're here today talking about Council Member Ann Kitchen's proposal that would end ride sharing in Austin as we know it," Mccottry said.
Mccottry says it's taking a step backward because Uber already has a nationwide background check process that's extensive. He says fingerprinting is a discriminatory process.
Kyle Hoskins drives for Lyft in his spare time.
"I think the fingerprint background check regarding ground transportation is not the gold standard as city council keeps referencing to them as," Hoskins said.
Using data from sexual assault reports on transportation network company drivers over the past 3 years, Hoskins did his own research to try and see how many cases fingerprint background checks would have prevented.
"I found that they would have only have prevented one case in the last three years across the entire United States. To me, that's woefully inadequate as the standard for safety," Hoskins said.
According to Travis County court paperwork, there have been two sexual assault cases since August in which the victims thought they were getting into an Uber car. But they weren't. Kitchen is hoping council will discuss how to prevent that.
"So there's an issue about, is there anything else that we could do from a public safety standpoint to help with marking the cars?'' Kitchen said.
"As soon as that trip is matched, you see a picture of your driver, you see the make and color of their car, as well as their license plate," Uber's Mccottry said.
Both Uber and Lyft have reminded city officials that in other markets where rules like this have gone into effect, they've had to leave.
Kitchen says she doesn't want them to leave.
"If we're talking about a process that's not burdensome for the drivers, I can't imagine why there wouldn't be some company that wanted to be here," Kitchen said.
Uber is encouraging their users to tweet Mayor Adler with the hashtag #whyiride
Twitter users have started using the hashtag– like A. Lynn, who wrote, "It allows my filmmaking husband to supplement his income. Many local artists depend on it."