SAN ANTONIO – The city is working on a long-term agreement with rideshare companies that does not include mandatory fingerprint background checks. Instead, the city will continue to offer free voluntary fingerprint screenings for drivers, conducted by San Antonio police.
During a briefing for City Council members Wednesday on the highlights of the proposed agreement, several workers in the taxicab industry stood holding signs that read “mandatory background checks” and “stop sexual assault.”
“Women need to be protected. Our daughters need to be protected,” Robert Gonzales said.
Many taxicab companies require fingerprint background checks.
“The issue is not that one company is doing the background checks and the other isn't,” said Roberto Trevino, District 1 city councilman. “It's that they're separate methodologies. So instead of debating which one is a better option, we're simply saying let's put it to the consumer.”
As of Oct. 6, 248 drivers have volunteered for and passed the San Antonio Police Department background check. But the city does not have records on how many ridesharing drivers are operating in San Antonio.
“I think we can do better. We have to do better,” said District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran, who wants to see fingerprinting made mandatory. “I think we need to make it across the board so everybody feels safe.”
If you request a ride from Uber, Lyft or Get Me, you will be able to see in the app whether a driver has passed the voluntary SAPD background check.
Meanwhile, the city is also lessening restrictions on taxicab companies to help make them more viable in a market that is now infiltrated with ridesharing options. That includes reducing operating fees and lowering vehicle inspection requirements to match what's required by the state.
“It's not a deregulation. It's a movement of the ordinances to revise them to give us more perspective and a deeper opportunity to be competitive,” said John Bouloubasis, president of Texas Taxi.
Beginning in August 2015, the city entered into temporary agreements with Uber, Lyft and Get Me.
The City Council is expected to vote on the final long-term agreement with rideshare companies in November.