Calling the incidents “inevitable,” Madison Mayor Paul Soglin responded to sexual assault allegations Tuesday involving drivers employed by the privately owned rideshare service Uber.
“[Uber] is taking time and resources, unnecessarily, because of [their] attitude [as a] billion dollar international corporation which does not respect the law,” Soglin said during a press conference.
In his remarks on the importance of private transport safety in Madison, Soglin articulated a desire for increased industry regulations of private transportation companies by local government.
“[Uber] has stonewalled us [by] saying, which is their right, that they will not provide us with information about the driver without a search warrant or subpoena,” Soglin said, speaking on the company’s handling of the sexual assault allegations.
However, the Uber website says the company requires an intensive background check process for their drivers. Uber uses records dating back seven years in accordance with national regulatory legislation. Their website specifically highlights employing drivers with “no sexual offenses.”
“The three-step screening [Uber has] developed across the United States, which includes county, federal and multi-state checks, has set a new standard,” according to the Uber website.
Eleven Dane County representatives echoed Soglin’s concerns by writing a letter Tuesday to Gov. Scott Walker, urging him to veto a proposed bill about transportation network companies that fail to provide information on driver and vehicle identity.
The proposed bill aims to expand companies like Uber by restricting municipalities from regulating them.
In comparison, state standards for licensed taxi companies require the state to know the identity of the driver, have background checks of the driver, vehicle registration and the driver’s home address.
“Had this incident occurred in a licensed taxicab, driver information would have been immediately available,” the Dane County legislators wrote.
Soglin stressed the importance of local government cooperation with the state level in hopes of Walker doing “the right thing” and vetoing the bill.