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Latimer to end Uber, Lyft background check program

County Executive George Latimer, a Democrat, said he will end a voluntary background check program for Uber and Lyft drivers in Westchester after a tepid response from employees of those ride-hailing services.

“I am doubtful of its value, and unless I can be persuaded in a short period of time that it’s worth the effort, I’ll expect to close it down,” said Latimer in a statement.

Fewer than 10 drivers have signed up since the program’s creation by former County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, in July of last year.

The program was conceived as a way to help notify customers whether their potential driver had undergone and passed a more stringent background check by displaying a thumbs up sticker on the car.

Under a state law passed in June of last year, ride-hailing contractors are required to pass a criminal background check, but county lawmakers lobbied for more thorough vetting for prospective contractors in Westchester amid a slew of allegations against Uber and its employees, including a class action suit claiming drivers had sexually assaulted customers.

Ultimately, the only concession lawmakers and Astorino were able to get from the major ride-hailing companies, Uber and Lyft, was an agreement to participate in the voluntary “Thumbs Up” program.

The state law passed last year allows Uber and Lyft to operate statewide and does not allow for counties to impose their own mandatory regulations, but does allow for them to opt out of the process entirely.

-Reporting by James Pero



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