Westchester ride-share drivers can opt to be fingerprinted

This spring, New York passed regulations allowing Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing companies to operate throughout the state starting Thursday. Many Westchester County leaders expressed concern the law failed to require sufficient screening of drivers, leading to a compromise.

County Executive Rob Astorino stood with representatives of Uber and Lyft Tuesday afternoon and announced an optional fingerprinting program for Westchester's ride-sharing drivers.

"We will issue a decal that will go on their car, basically giving the thumbs up that they have been fingerprinted," Astorino said. "The program is called Thumbs Up."

Interested drivers pay $90 for the Taxi and Limousine Commission to fingerprint them. Once they pass a background check, they receive the Thumbs Up window decal for their windshield to alert passengers their driver's submitted to a background check.

"I fear this is not enough. New York State has passed a terribly flawed TNC bill that compromises the safety of Westchester County residents," County Board Chairman Mike Kaplowitz said. He called an optional fingerprinting program insufficient and pointed out that New York City makes background checks mandatory for ride-sharing drivers.

"Their problems are our problems," Astorino said.

The Uber and Lyft representatives present praised the county for reaching an agreement so quickly. The Lyft exec said the company looks forward to "continuing the dialogue."

"It is clear that their profit margin is more important to them than being a good corporate citizen," Kaplowitz said.

Because its population exceeds 100,000 people, Yonkers can decide to opt in or out of ride-sharing regardless of Westchester County's decision.