The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has released a detailed review of the driver background check process used in Pennsylvania by Lyft, Inc. (Lyft) – recommending a series of actions to strengthen Lyft’s background check process in the future and raising concerns about Lyft’s failure to provide data and documented policies.
The Commission voted 4-0 to release the PUC’s background check process review – performed by the audit staff of the PUC’s Bureau of Audits – along with an implementation plan from Lyft addressing issues raised by the PUC.
The PUC examination was intended to assess the effectiveness of Lyft’s driver onboarding, background check, and driver quality assurance programs. Activities reviewed included:
- Driver sign-up process, including required information, timelines and evaluations;
- Driver background check policies, procedures and processes;
- Driver performance evaluation and methods to reevaluate qualifications;
- The complaint process and its connection to user safety;
- Methods to ensure compliance with Pennsylvania laws and regulations; and,
- Future changes or initiatives.
Findings & Recommendations
The PUC report includes seven major recommendations for improvements related to background checks and rider safety. In several of these areas, auditors noted Lyft’s inability to, or refusal to, provide specific data.
The PUC report includes the following findings:
- Lyft did not provide documented policies and procedures related to background checks and its onboarding process.
- The background check process and the continuous criminal monitoring functions for Pennsylvania drivers could be enhanced.
- Safety related driver terminations/deactivations are not shared by companies within the vehicle-for-hire industry.
- Lyft did not provide PA specific performance metrics or goals to measure its operational performance.
- Lyft is unable to reach a conclusion in many complaint investigations due to incomplete or insufficient information provided and/or acquired.
- Lyft’s mobile app features could be improved to enhance safety.
- Lyft did not provide driver and rider deactivations for its most serious cases.
In response to those findings, the PUC report makes the following recommendations for improvement by Lyft:
- Document detailed operating policies and procedures.
- Strengthen the background check process and the continuous criminal monitoring function.
- Develop a partnership with transportation industry participants to build a database to readily identify/flag users that have been terminated/deactivated due to serious safety issues.
- Create and track performance metrics and establish goals for each.
- Leverage technology to reduce the level of insufficient information in the complaint investigation process.
- Implement, redesign, and /or improve safety related features of the mobile app.
- Track the cause of all driver and rider deactivations and maintain a database of such deactivations.
Lyft’s implementation plan, which was submitted after completion of the review, partially accepts all the PUC recommendations and details how those matters will be addressed moving forward.