Yesterday we reported on the musings of one particular taxi cab driver in Tampa, discussing the differences in scrutiny of drivers between Hillsborough County and Pinellas. While the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission has been severely criticized in recent years for a variety of transgressions, supporters say that their ability to scrutinize drivers is more efficient than in other counties in Florida.
That has become an issue with ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft, specifically with their insurance and background check policies. And apparently Uber realizes that it's vulnerable on that front, since Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has announced on the company's blog that the company has hired Rudy Giuliani and his security team at Giuliani Partners to review Uber’s driver background check process and related systems.
"The result will be a checkup on existing processes and a series of recommendations for potential improvement — which Mayor Giuliani will work with us to implement — as we continue to build and scale strong, industry-leading safety systems," Kalanick wrote.
Last week the Washington Post reported on the New York-based CEO named Ryan Simonetti who says he was kidnapped by an Uber driver in D.C., held against his will, and involved in a high-speed chase across state lines with the police. There was also the case last month of a UberX driver in San Francisco who already had a felony conviction and was accused of assaulting a passenger.
In his blog post Kalanick repeats what we've heard from Uber officials before — that the S.F.-based company has a screening process that includes three levels of screening: county, multi-state and federal, in addition to regulatory agency background checks required for licensed livery partners.
“Uber’s leadership is not only open to, but eager to identify avenues for improved safety and security for its customers," says Giuliani. "As Uber moves into its next phase of growth, they are poised to elevate the safety experience for the entire transportation industry.”
Kalanick says that "Mayor Giuliani’s review will be rigorous and span months, and we are confident he will bring his renowned toughness to this review."
That would be a good thing — certainly for Uber, which faces a number of challenges with regulatory agencies and cities across the country — though it doesn't seem to be stopping the company's momentum nationally or globally.