Some Oklahomans Concerned With Safety Of 'Tech Taxi' Companies

Tuesday, April 8th 2014, 10:37 pm
By: News On 6

Uber, a technological take on the traditional taxi, came to Tulsa in March. Now, a second company, just like Uber, is thinking about coming to Tulsa. But some are saying you're taking a gamble when you get in their cars.

The ridesharing service Lyft, and their signature pink mustaches, is considering coming to Tulsa. Companies like Lyft and Uber both do their own driver background checks and aren't regulated, that scares some riders.

3/27/2014 Related Story: 'Tech Taxi' Service Makes Its Way To Tulsa

Chad Becker regulates taxis in Tulsa, but he won't be inspecting any Uber or Lyft cabs.

"They specify that they do background checks, that they do inspections," Becker said.

Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are classified as tech companies, not cab companies.

Cab companies in Tulsa have to have at least 10 cabs, get inspected yearly and have insurance. Their drivers have to get a physical, a background check through the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, with fingerprinting, and must pass an Oklahoma geography test.

If Uber and Lyft were classified as taxi companies, Becker said they could technically be operating illegally.

The Who's Driving You campaign also has some concerns, stating, "Uber and Lyft use cheaper third-party background checks. They're not conducted by law enforcement and don't involve fingerprinting."

Now, a bill is before the Oklahoma House Transportation Committee. It would require Uber and Lyft to register with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, ensuring that they're performing background checks and have insurance.

"That they're meeting the minimum basic safety standards that any other public transportation company or vehicle would be held to," said Becker.

There's still time for the bill to pass before Lyft cars take Tulsa streets.

A Lyft spokesperson said, "We're testing ads in more than 20 cities. While Tulsa would be a great city for Lyft, we haven't made any plans to launch there at this time."

There are also some insurance issues that have come up with companies like Uber, where it's on the driver to have personal car insurance.