Baker-Polito Administration Reaches Agreement with Transportation Network Companies to Begin Implementation of Nation's Most Comprehensive State Background Checks
Voluntary agreements with Uber and Lyft begins implementation of public safety requirements of new TNC law one year ahead of schedule
BOSTON – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that the two largest Transportation Network Companies (TNC) in Massachusetts have entered into agreements with the state, ensuring the immediate implementation of the most stringent ride-for-hire background check system of any state in the country.
The agreements were executed individually between the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) and Uber and Lyft. The agreements require the companies to begin background checks for all TNC drivers operating within the Commonwealth by January 6, 2017, and guarantees that every TNC driver in the Commonwealth will have passed the state background check no later than April 3, 2017.
“The safety and security of the riding public is our top priority, and I am pleased this agreement will set a national standard for the most comprehensive state background checks for TNC drivers in the country,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “With the signing of these agreements, consumers who take advantage of the innovative technology services provided by Transportation Network Companies can have confidence that the driver has undergone a thorough background check that includes both criminal and driving records.”
Background checks will begin a year ahead of schedule, highlighting the administration’s commitment to prioritizing the safety of consumers utilizing transportation network services in accordance with An Act Regulating Transportation Network Companies.
“It is incredibly important that drivers employed with Transportation Network Companies are fully vetted before transporting people, along with their families, to their destinations,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “By taking proactive steps with Uber and Lyft, our Administration is underscoring our dedication to safe travel options for all.”
Under the voluntary agreements, background checks will be conducted by the DPU’s newly created Transportation Network Company Division. Drivers employed by Uber and Lyft will undergo a full state Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) background check, including confirmation that the driver is not a registered sex offender. Additionally, drivers will be subjected to a bi-annual national commercial background check conducted by the TNC companies. Drivers who do not meet the suitability standards set forth in the agreements will not be permitted to operate in Massachusetts.
“Transportation network companies have driven a tremendous amount of change in this industry, and with that change comes a responsibility to make sure that passengers using these services are as safe as they can be,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett. “I am pleased that the leading transportation network companies have agreed to have their drivers undergo a full state Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) background check.”
In August, Governor Charlie Baker signed bipartisan legislation that created a modern statewide regulatory framework for TNCs within Massachusetts. The legislation, H. 4570, includes several components for the protection of consumers including support for transparent pricing, properly marked and inspected vehicles, clear insurance standards, authorization of service at Boston Logan International Airport and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC), and the strongest state background check requirements in the nation.
“Public safety is the highest priority of the Department of Public Utilities’ Transportation Network Company Division,” said Department of Public Utilities Chairman Angela O’Connor. “By entering into these agreements, the TNC Division can immediately implement a comprehensive background check system that will protect consumers and enhance public safety, while allowing cutting edge technology companies to succeed here in the Commonwealth.”
As public safety aspects are implemented under these agreements, the DPU will continue to prepare draft regulations for public review and comment in 2017, ensuring that all remaining aspects of the TNC law are implemented on schedule.