Guest editorial: Park City, Summit County should require for-hire drivers to pass background checks
June 6, 2018
With the death of an Uber Passenger by their Uber Driver last week in Denver, calls for improved background checks by Uber and Lyft have once again gained momentum. Many Passengers are now seeking out alternatives to Uber and Lyft, as a result of their "sub-par" background check process by CHECKR, which only uses a Driver's Name and their Social Security Number. Neither Uber nor Lyft perform a fingerprint background check on their Drivers.
As an alternative to these popular apps, many people are seeking out local "For Hire" companies for their transportation needs, as their assumption is that since the City regulates the industry that it must be safer. Sadly, nothing could be farther from the truth.
As the owner of three local "For Hire" transportation companies and a member of the recently formed "Taxi Stakeholder" group, I have spoken at both the Park City Council and the Summit County Council meetings to ask for changes to the existing "For Hire" regulations to further protect the Public. Unfortunately, neither the City nor the County seems to want to accept responsibility and ensure the safety of the public.
As it pertains to Summit County, there are currently no rules or regulations for the "For Hire" industry. This means anyone can put a "taxi" sign on top of their car and pick up a Passenger at Maxwell's, Whole Foods, the Tanger Outlets, or the Canyons Village. It is time for the County to step up and start protecting the public … before someone is hurt, attacked, or worse case, killed.
While Park City's Municipal Code (4-8-5) mentions the requirements for a background check, the City has chosen to ignore this requirement and does not even require a "For Hire" Company to provide the City with proof that a background check has been performed. As a result, there are currently Drivers operating within City Limits that have been convicted of disqualifying events, such as assault, rape, robbery, felonies, reckless driving, and Class A Misdemeanors.
The Public expects and deserves to be safe when they get into ANY "For Hire" vehicle, whether that is an Uber, a Lyft, or a local "For Hire" vehicle. While neither the City or County can do anything to further protect the public from the sub-par background checks of Uber and Lyft, due to a State Bill, my hope with this Guest Editorial is that the public will share these same beliefs and encourage the City and County to come together to create a Countywide set of Codes that will be enforced and will ensure that the public is safe.
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Many of the local "For Hire" companies have lobbied, with no success to the City, asking that all drivers for a local "For Hire" company to obtain (and properly display) what is commonly referred to as an "Airport Badge" through Salt Lake City — which requires a fingerprint background check with the FBI and TSA. In addition, all "For Hire" vehicles should be required obtain a "Black Square" decal, also issued by Salt Lake City, which ensures that the vehicle has received two safety inspections (as the current State Law says that "Safety Inspections" are no longer required). In fact, during one of the "Taxi Stakeholder" meetings I suggested inviting a member of the Salt Lake City Ground Transportation Authority to attend and discuss their rules and regulations … but I was informed by member of the City that "that was not necessary."
The only way I would ever get into a "For Hire" vehicle is if that Driver can show me they have an "Airport Badge" and if their vehicle has BOTH a "White Circle" Park City decal and a "Black Square" decal from Salt Lake City … otherwise the Passenger is putting their own safety at risk each time they receive a ride.
It's time for change.
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