Prototypes of the Thumbs Up! Austin validation stations will be set up in the City Hall lobby for demonstration purposes tomorrow during the City Council meeting. Drivers and passengers alike are invited to stop by and give feedback on the experience overall. Eventually Thumbs Up! could be available throughout the city in local grocery stores, fire stations, and libraries.
At the same time, the City of Austin via the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will provide Transportation Network Company (TNC) drivers the opportunity to get their fingerprints taken, and a criminal background check run. This service will be provided free-of-charge to everyone and is in no way mandatory. Data from these checks will be eligible for the Thumbs Up! Program when it goes live. On Thursday, Jan. 28, Council will consider incentives for those TNC drivers who have completed a voluntary fingerprint background check. Such a badge, called Thumbs Up! Austin, would be provided by a new, third party nonprofit or B-corporation, and the City would provide incentives to badge holders. These incentives are yet to be determined, but they could include access to areas into which TNC drivers are currently not allowed, as well as financial incentives.
“Austin is best served with widely available rideshare options in which passengers have a meaningful choice of selecting a validated driver,” said Mayor Steve Adler. “I want Uber, Lyft, GetMe and other rideshare companies to stay in Austin, and I also want people who feel safer with a fingerprinted option to have a widely available, meaningful choice. I believe Thumbs Up! Austin is the best way to fulfill our responsibility without mandatory fingerprinting to ensure safety, but success depends upon drivers volunteering to take advantage of incentives to be validated.”
“Austin is creative city, able to find innovative ways to address our public safety needs,” said District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen, chair of the council’s Mobility Committee. “Our willingness to see how we can rather than why we can’t will allow residents and visitors the safe transportation of their choice.”
“I want to make sure that people in Austin have a choice to pick a ride with a driver whose identity has been verified with fingerprinting,” said District 10 City Councilmember Sheri Gallo. “We’re asking drivers on Thursday to volunteer to get fingerprinted and five us feedback on Thumbs Up! in the process. We need to ensure that Austin continues to have a meaningful choice for a validated driver.”
TNC drivers or anyone interested wishing to experience Thumbs Up! Austin or complete a free fingerprint background check should come to Austin City Hall (301 W. 2nd Street, 78702) on Thursday, Jan. 28.
Thumbs Up! Will be demonstrating from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Free DPS fingerprinting will be available between the hours of 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the First Floor Press Room. Please note than in order to complete the fingerprinting process, drivers must bring their valid, not-expired State or Federal-issued photo I.D.