BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Maryland Public Service Commission has approved an alternative background check process for Transportation Network Companies Rasier, a subsidiary of Uber Technologies, Inc. and Lyft, Inc., with an alternative for the fingerprinting-based background check.
Both companies had applied for a waiver of the fingerprint requirement for their drivers, arguing that the commercial background checks they use are more comprehensive and accurate.
The Commission said that neither fingerprinting-based nor commercial background checks are completely comprehensive and accurate.
The Commission said that Rasier and Lyft’s background checks involve extensive efforts to identify criminal history, are supplemented by ongoing safety protocols and updates, and include unique and emerging methods of authenticating the identity of drivers.
In the battle between traditional taxis and ridesharing companies, Uber and Lyft came out on top Thursday.
Even though every cab driver in the state is required to Dwight Kines’ company operates cabs in Maryland. He says this is a matter of safety.
“There is no question about the fact that a finger print-based FBI background check is more comprehensive than one you can pull online,” says Kines, Baltimore Yellow and Checkered Cabs.
And there have been complaints, as earlier this year in College Park, a passenger said her Uber driver allegedly kidnapped her. But the commission said Uber and Lyft proved their background check systems are sufficient. Still, the companies will have to follow additional requirements.
The additional requirements include:
- TNCs must rerun background checks on all drivers annually;
- Any background check provider used by a TNC must be audited and accredited by the Background Screening Credentialing Council of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners;
- If a TNC plans to contract with a different background check provider or makes significant changes to its background check process it must provide notice in writing 60 days in advance to the Commission;
- With each driver application submitted to the Commission, the TNC must provide written certification that the TNC has verified the identity of an applicant;
- TNCs must require drivers to agree to report arrests and convictions to the TNCs within three business days. The TNCs must then promptly report to the Commission any deactivations that result;
- TNCs must look back through the entire adult history of its applicants for convictions in Maryland and, where possible, convictions in other jurisdictions;
- The Commission may order TNCs to revisit a background check of any driver the Commission believes may need to have their criminal history reexamined;
- TNCs must require drivers to agree to return the company’s trade dress (car decals, etc.) if they become permanently deactivated;
- Annual reports to the Commission, Commission Staff and the Office of People’s Counsel, on the TNCs operations under the alternative background check, including information on safety-related complaints, changes to internal background check processes, driver deactivations and the total number of active drivers.
Uber had actually threatened to pull out of the state of Maryland altogether if their drivers were forced to adhere to these stricter guidelines. For people who depend on the ridesharing companies, they are happy they are here to stay.
“I love Uber. I am a big Uber fan. I use it, it’s very convenient,” says Len Travers, a regular Uber customer.
“I use uber all the time,” says Abby Barbara, who also uses Uber.
As it stands now, taxi and ridesharing drivers will have to keep sharing the road.
“Well, I didn’t have anything to hide anyway and they have my social like they do pretty much with everybody else,” says Corey Scale , who drives for Lyft.
Uber and Lyft will have 10 days to agree to the requirments, if they don’t, their requests will be denied.
However, this is a big win for the ridesharing companies, so all indication show that they will agree.
Uber officials thanked state officials for “Carefuly considering public safety protections uber has put in place to ensure Marylanders have access to a safe, reliable ride throughout the state.”