WPCNR NEWS AND COMMENT. By John F. Bailey. February 7, 2017:
The New York State Senate voted yesterday to approve Uber and Lyft to provide their essentially “gypsy cab” services statewide, with a 2.2% tax on each ride and Uber subject to regulation by the Department of Motor Vehicles There is one item that troubles me.
Taxi organizations point out that no fingerprint background checks are required to be a Uber-Lyft driver.
Depending on how thorough Uber is in vetting their drivers, you are at the mercy of the driver’s honesty or lack thereof (as with any corporate or business application).
The law the NY Senate passed,55-5, does not require fingerprint background checks of drivers.
I referee high school soccer and softball as a New York State approved official in both sports. I had to undergo fingerprint background checks for both sports before I could referee an inning or a minute of a high school sport.
Consider that the persons who use Uber and Lyft are very trustful and naive. You do not know who is driving a Uber cab. You do not know if they are former sex offenders, muggers, drug dealers, or mentally disturbed, and you do not know if they have been convicted of a crime, because there are no fingerprint background checks.
I have never taken a ride in a Uber cab or a Lyft cab for that reason.
The New York Senate Republicans who voted this bill, obviously are not aware that the new President is concerned about vetting immigrants coming into this country and has concerns about personal safety of Americans.
Calling up one of these “gypsy cabs,” is like hitch-hiking, you never know how good these drivers are, what they’ve been doing before they come and pick you up. Have they been drinking?Do they have a DWI conviction, is their drivers’ license valid, suspended, whatever? I assume Uber checks those. They better.
So far I know of no crimes committed by Uber or Lyft drivers against passengers. Obviously if a person is registered with Uber and a person they are riding is a victim of a crime, they’d be questioned. But, if the victim is dead. Well, no witness.
If referees in high school sports have to undergon fingerprint background checks. Persons who drive the public should, too.
As I recall the “gypsy cab” era in New York City, which is essentially what Uber/Lyft are, some of the gypsy cabs were unsafe, some of the drivers were not safe and the city cracked down on them for that reason.
So the Assembly when they undertake this bill must make applicants and present Uber and Lyft drivers subject to fingerprint background checks retroactively, too. The first person killed by an Uber or Lyft driver due to an traffic accident, a crime committed by a Uber/Lyft driver or their accomplice will result in lawsuit against the state you would not believe.
Could we have some common sense in the New York State Senate, please, and the assembly? Fingerprint background checks, please. What were they thinking of?