Boston police commissioner: Fingerprint Uber, Lyft drivers

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans speaks during a January news conference in Boston. Charles Krupa / AP

BOSTON (AP) — Boston Police Commissioner William Evans is faulting Massachusetts lawmakers for failing to require the fingerprinting of drivers for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.

The House and Senate approved regulations for the services Sunday night, but the bill does not require fingerprinting.

Evans said Monday that the goal of fingerprinting is to identify drivers with histories of violent crimes and sexual assaults. Police already fingerprint cab drivers.

“I’m concerned with public safety and making sure that people who hop into a vehicle know the driver and know that he’s been vetted,” Evans said. “We’re looking for violent offenders who have sexual histories or violent histories. That’s all we want to wean out here.”


Ride-hailing companies have fought similar fingerprinting efforts in other cities, arguing their own background checks suffice.

Uber and Lyft, both based in San Francisco, have made good on threats to vacate cities that impose fingerprint checks, such as Austin, Texas. The companies spent $9 million in a failed bid to overturn fingerprint requirements there.

The bill passed Sunday by Massachusetts lawmakers requires a two-tiered system of background checks for all drivers for the app-based ride services, one conducted by the company and another by the state. It does not require fingerprints checks for drivers.

The bill now heads to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.

Baker told reporters Monday that he hasn’t had a chance to take a “deep dive” into the bill and didn’t say if he would sign it.

Baker said that “it’s critically important that there be a substantial and ongoing background check process.” He added: “There’s a lot of debate about the best way to get that done.”

Lyft spokesman Adrian Durbin said the bill “sets high safety standards while keeping modern transportation options like Lyft available across the Bay State.”

“This bill expands consumer choice and encourages innovation, and we urge Governor Charlie Baker to sign it into law when it reaches his desk,” Durbin said in a written statement.


The bill also mandates minimum insurance requirements for each vehicle, and a 20-cent per ride fee that will be paid by the companies.

Five cents from the fee will go to a fund to help taxi drivers who have been hurt by competition from the app-based ride services