Most people call on Uber or Lyft if they've had too much to drink or need a ride, and now the city is pushing rideshare drivers to make those rides even safer.
Daniel Hill is a former military man who lives in New Braunfels working his first week as an Uber driver. He’s passed Uber's background check, but he hasn’t taken a free, 10-fingerprint optional background check by the San Antonio Police Department.
“I don't live in San Antonio, and it just doesn't really pertain to me,” Hill said.
Taxi drivers in San Antonio have to take the 10-fingerprint background check, but for Uber and Lyft drivers, the city leaves gives them an option. Drivers who take the background check will have an SAPD verified checkmark and a t-number listed next to their name on the rideshare app if they do it.
During a press conference, the city announced a new incentive for drivers who do it: a $25 gas gift card. Hill says he would consider it.
“Sure, you don't want any crazies out there driving” he said.
The city says that, in all, 446 rideshare drivers have applied for the city’s secondary background check since last year. Only 332 drivers were actually approved for it.
KENS 5 asked Uber and Lyft how many total driver they have, but both companies refused to tell us. KENS 5 has no way of knowing what percentage of total drivers have actually applied for the city's more stringent background check.
Still, the architect of the city's rideshare plan, Councilman Robert Trevino, says that making city background checks an option is the reason why San Antonio has rideshare, and cities like Austin don't.
“We're not just another city,” Councilman Trevino said. “We're one of the largest cities in the United States, and we're recognized worldwide, so we feel very proud of what we did here in San Antonio.”
At Tuesday’s city event, some 50 rideshare drivers signed up for the secondary background check. The next 600 drivers who complete the free background check will receive a $25 Valero gas card, driver identification card, and promotional window cling to differentiate their vehicles as “drivers of choice,” according to the city.
SAPD is also working to streamline the approval process. Drivers will only have to appear twice: once to present themselves for fingerprinting and a second time to obtain their city-issued ID and $25 gas card.