By Morgan Montalvo
The city and San Antonio Police Department are upping their game in hopes of convincing area ride-share drivers to sign up for official screening and background checks.
At Tuesday evening's ride-share rally at Paramour, police and municipal officials kicked off an "incentivizing" program that speeds up driver validation, offers gas gift cards for participation, and will hold drawings for bigger prizes in the coming weeks.
Steven Baum, SAPD Assistant Director in charge of ride-share compliance, says so far 444 drivers have applied for the enhanced background screenings.
"We've had just over 300 that have completed it," Baum said. "I'd like to get up to 600 before Fiesta starts, and then a thousand before the end of the summer."
Baum says Fiesta would be a good time for San Antonians who have not tried ride-sharing as an alternative to driving to do so.
Also at Tuesday's validation kick-off, new start-up DRIV announced its entry into the local ride-share market. Co-founder Larry Garza said DRIV will differ from established operators by not engaging in the industry pricing practice known as "surging" - hiking rider fees at peak periods that include bar closings and the end of sports contests.
"If it costs you $40 to go to a Spurs game using ride-share, it would be really nice to know it's going to cost you $40 to go home," Garza said.
Garza says his company will ensure that all of its drivers undergo fingerprinting, background checks and drug screening. DRIV is now accepting rider applications and will launch its rider phone app in about 10 days, he said.