City Promotes ‘Safer Ridesharing’ With Background Check Video

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A screenshot of the verification number (T number) on the Uber and Lyft apps.

The City of San Antonio has released an animated, one-minute video that encourages Uber and Lyft customers to choose drivers who have undergone San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) fingerprint background checks. The video is part of the City’s campaign to educate the public about “safer ridesharing.”

Uber has been back up and running in San Antonio since Oct. 13 and Lyft is expected to begin its services in time for the holiday season.

City Council approved a nine-month operating agreement for a rideshare pilot program in August that requires ride-booking application companies to provide drivers with the option of taking a fingerprint background check and identifying this additional certification to riders. Under the operating agreement, rideshare drivers are not required to undergo the City’s background checks, but Lyft and Uber require third-party background checks of all drivers before picking up fares, which includes local and state databases.

City Council approved an ordinance in March that, among other things, requires all rideshare drivers to take an SAPD fingerprint background check. Lyft and Uber closed up shop when the ordinance took effect in April, claiming that process was too onerous for its riders and that third-party background checks are sufficient.

“It is important for our residents and visitors to know they can select a driver who has been screened by the San Antonio Police Department,” Mayor Ivy Taylor stated in a news release. “Our innovative program provides customers with a new and useful data point about their driver that will help them make an informed choice when traveling throughout our city.”

The video teaches the viewer how to detect whether or not his or her driver has taken the additional steps. The agreement does not change a driver’s profile, it simply adds a verification number next to the driver’s name. Users have the option to cancel the ride and choose another driver if they prefer a driver that has taken a fingerprint background check.

The meaning of the verification number is not explained in the app itself as the pilot operating agreement does not require rideshare companies to do so. It’s up to the City to tell the public what it all means.

The short video also provides instruction for drivers who want to receive the free fingerprint and background checks. Drivers can download an app from the City’s website and send their photos and fingerprints to SAPD, which will then run the information through an FBI database.

“Ridesharers and drivers are tech-savvy people,” stated Jeff Coyle, director of government and public affairs for the City. “We are reaching them in the places they go to make sure they understand that they have a choice when requesting a ride.”

 

*Top image: A screenshot of the verification number on the Uber and Lyft apps. 

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