Uber in Philadelphia: New rider verification promotes driver safety

Uber is launching a new rider verification pilot program, and Philadelphia is one of the first cities to test it out starting Thursday.

The new program is aimed to help Uber drivers confirm riders' identities, giving them more "peace of mind" before the ride begins.

"Drivers consistently tell Uber they want to know more about who is getting in their vehicle," the rideshare company said.

Uber says many customers will be automatically verified based on their name and number which the company will cross-check with a third party. However, if, for some reason, a customer is not automatically verified, they will have to follow the following steps to receive that blue safety measure check mark.  

Rider Verification Process:

  • Names and phone numbers in Uber accounts will be cross-checked with a trusted third-party database.
  • Most riders will be verified using account details, with no additional action needed.
  • Riders can also upload government-issued identification, such as a driver's license, passport, or other official documentation.

Drivers will then be able to see a rider's "verified" badge when deciding if they want to accept a trip.

However, Uber says riders' last names and phone numbers will never be shared with drivers.

"Drivers will only see a rider’s first name, star rating, trip details, and now, a verified rider badge."

FOX 29’s Greg Payne went to 30th Street Station to get reactions from both Uber riders and drivers.

"It makes sense to me, I think we are living in crazy times, hard times and I think having a little extra safety and precaution for the drivers who are doing a service makes sense," said Gabriel Lawrence, Uber rider. 

"Okay that’s good, that's a good idea actually for both of us the riders and the drivers," said Mohimed Meakour, an Uber driver with over 22,000 trips completed. 

Alix Vallery who drives for Uber off and on, believes the program will only work in some cases. 

"You might verify the person who owns the account is but the person who is still getting in your car can still be somebody else," said Vallery. 

Since people can still order rides for others and riders don’t have to get verified in order to use the service, it leaves some wondering if unverified riders will get overlooked. 

"It’s also going to create probably more classes like some Uber drivers will consider themselves like, oh, I’m only going to pick up a person that has that type of status," said Christopher-Lloyd Simon, Uber rider. 

Uber officials say only time will tell if that happens and hope it doesn’t as they say ther is only one class of passengers they are aiming to exclude.

"Criminals want to remain anonymous, they don’t want us to know who they are because they don’t want to be caught and so this program hopes to send a clear message to would-be criminals if you are looking to do harm, Uber is not the place to do it," said Heather Childs, Uber's Chief Trust & Security Officer.