BOSTON (WWLP) — Taxi drivers filled the State House in Boston Tuesday, demanding tighter background and fingerprint checks for Uber drivers.
Requesting an Uber takes just seconds with the app, but regulating ride-hailing companies has been a long and difficult process on Beacon Hill. On Wednesday, the state Senate plans to vote on a set of regulations to require Uber drivers to undergo background checks, and carry insurance coverage for at least $1-million-dollars.
“The bill has a very common sense focus on public safety, so it includes background checks for TNC (Transportation Networking Companies), but it would be done by the TNC companies,” said state Senate Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton).
Taxi drivers rallied at the State House ahead of Wednesday’s debate, calling on ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to use commercial license plates and 24-hour commercial insurance, as well as require all their drivers to undergo fingerprint checks.
Scott Solombrino, a spokesman for the Ride Safe Coalition of Massachusetts, told 22News, “In New York City, you’re required to have an FBI background check by the city, by the government and to have fingerprints to make sure you’re not a convicted felon. We think this is a very basic, simple thing.”
Uber argues that fingerprint checks could dig up records of arrests that never led to a conviction. The goal is to allow taxi operators to compete with this new industry on a level playing field.
“It goes back to the – same service, same rules. You know, we do the exact same thing, but they hide under the technology umbrella. The thing is that you can’t make up the rules, you have to follow them,” said Cheryl Horan, owner of the Green and Yellow Cab of Somerville.
The House passed a ride-hailing bill in March. The Senate plans to begin the debate on Wednesday at 11:00 AM.