LINCOLN, Neb. — Taxi company owners say people who drive for ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft should be required to undergo the same background checks and physicals that taxi drivers must complete to work in Lincoln.

The City Council is considering an ordinance that would eliminate city requirements for Uber and Lyft drivers, but continue the requirements for traditional taxi drivers. State law requires rideshare companies to perform background checks, but that information does not have to be reported to the Nebraska Public Service Commission, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Owners of local taxi companies spoke against the proposal Monday. They argued that the local requirements are good for everyone who offers ride services to the public.

“This ordinance is an important tool, reinforcing the company’s belief that public safety is paramount,” said Andy Pollock, attorney for Happy Cab and Yellow Cab.

City licensing requirements include a background check conducted by Lincoln police, a test assuring drivers know the city, and a physical.

Leisure Cab President Jim Joneson said he’s seen drivers who have previously failed Lincoln police’s background checks who are now driving for Uber or Lyft.

“I do not in any way want the city’s requirements to go away,” Joneson said. “This is a realm of professionalism, and I want it to remain.”

Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister supported ending city requirements for rideshare drivers, partly because of the extra work required for handling hundreds more background checks. Bliemeister said checking a new driver takes nearly an hour.

The City Council won’t decide on the proposed ordinance until Oct. 16.

Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,

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