Pullman changes taxi requirements

FORREST HOLT, Evergreen news editor

The Pullman City Council repealed an ordinance requiring fingerprint-based background tests for taxi drivers at its meeting Tuesday.

The change came after a disagreement between Uber and the city over the fingerprinting. The ridesharing giant has a nationwide policy of background checking its drivers using their Social Security cards. After nine drivers got fingerprinted and passed background checks to earn their Taxicab Operator’s Licenses, Uber disabled its app in the Pullman area so they could not accept requests for rides.

Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins brought a proposal before the council to change the licensing requirements, allowing drivers to earn their licenses with Social Security Number and name-based background checks. In the proposal, Jenkins noted staff research showing neither test was more or less likely to disqualify a driver from getting their license.

Previously, the Pullman Police Department conducted the background checks and billed the taxicab companies for them. Now, the companies will contract with third parties for the checks.

According to the new ordinance, the police can audit drivers licensed in Pullman at random, to see if they are in compliance with the law.
The nine Uber drivers that already earned their licenses would be able to continue working as soon as the company submits paperwork proving they meet the qualifications.