Atlanta looks to New Jersey as it weighs Uber airport plan

Atlanta leaders are studying Newark, New Jersey's deal with Uber as they consider a plan for the ride-booking service to pick up passengers at Atlanta's airport.

Atlanta's city council is considering a plan proposed by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport that would allow Uber and other ride-booking services to operate at the world's busiest airport under certain conditions.

Criminal background checks have been a point of contention in Atlanta, with Uber objecting to the type of fingerprint checks being proposed. Uber maintains that its own background checks are sufficient.

Others, including many law enforcement experts, say background checks without fingerprints are far less effective.

In Houston, where city officials insisted on fingerprint checks for Uber drivers, they found that background checks without fingerprints allowed people who have been charged with murder, sexual assault and other crimes to evade detection in a variety of ways.

In Newark, officials say Uber will pay the city $10 million over 10 years for the right to pick up Newark-Liberty Airport passengers. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport, has raised questions about whether the city has the authority to strike such a deal.

After a delegation of city and airport officials from Atlanta visited Newark to learn about its agreement, Atlanta officials are putting new regulations on hold for now, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported ( ).

Newark's plan includes background checks, but will not require government-run fingerprint-based checks, the newspaper reported.

"What we learned is that there's actually additional due diligence in Newark's contract . that actually yields more information than a fingerprinting would," said Katrina Taylor Parks, who is Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's deputy chief of staff.

Fingerprinting "does not give you everything all of the time," Taylor Parks told the newspaper. "So what Newark did was they added layers. ... That it made more comprehensive."

Hartsfield-Jackson General Manager Miguel Southwell has said that he hoped to legalize Uber X and Lyft pickups at the airport by July 1. Now, it's "difficult to say" whether that will still happen by July 1, Southwell told the newspaper.

Melissa Mullinax, a senior adviser to Atlanta's mayor, said she expects to see movement on the measure "in the next four or five weeks."