Taxicabs and app-based ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are regulated differently in most U.S. cities and states, with taxicabs often facing stricter rules.
New York, which has more than 13,000 yellow cabs and over 14,000 Uber cars, has similar regulations for both, including fingerprint background checks for drivers.
But in most cities, cabbies are required to have fingerprint checks, while Uber and Lyft have successfully fought against them. Instead, their drivers undergo checks by name and Social Security number. Many experts say the company background checks aren’t as effective. Uber and Lyft disagree, and say fingerprint checks would slow their efforts to recruit drivers.
Here are the differences in driver requirements in Rhode Island, which last week passed new ride-hailing regulations that are similar to others around the country. For now, the state does not require fingerprint checks:
TAXIS: Drivers must get background checks through the state before they can get a hackney operators permit with their pictures. They don’t have to be fingerprinted but must appear in person three times: at the Attorney General’s office, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the state division that regulates motor carriers. A separate measure backed by the taxi industry lifted a fee that has cost big taxi companies thousands of dollars a year.
RIDE-HAILING: Drivers must complete company background checks but do not have to go through state background checks. They also are not required to appear in person and do not need a hackney operators permit. Ride-hailing companies with more than 200 drivers have to pay a $30,000 annual fee. Smaller companies pay less. The app companies will also now be required to pay sales taxes, just like taxis.