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Metro Cars, the familiar car service at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, is turning to rival Uber’s model for hailing rides to and from the airport.

The company announced Thursday it’s launched a new mobile app and Chauffeur Direct service, which lets passengers book a ride directly. Prior to the app, customers had to call a number or book their reservation online.

The new service provides the driver’s photo and cellphone number up to an hour before pickup. During the trip, the service lets passengers and anyone they designate track the car’s location in real time.

Although not created in response to the February shooting spree near Kalamazoo by an Uber driver, Metro Cars says the move will help ensure passenger safety.

“Metro Cars has long been an industry leader in ensuring passenger safety,” Metro Cars CEO Daniel Ret said in a statement. “This service is a natural continuation of our commitment to putting the customer’s safety first.”

The company’s fleet includes sedans, stretch limousines, limousine coaches, executive vans, shuttles and luxury motor coaches. Metro Cars says it serves more than a million passengers a year.

The Metro Cars app can be downloaded at the iTunes App Store and at Google Play

Uber, and other phone-based ride-hailing services like Lyft, have exploded in popularity recently and have drawn the ire of traditional taxi companies who argue Uber drivers don’t face the same licensing processes taxi drivers do.

And in the wake of the Michigan shooting, critics have complained the company should do more to screen drivers and guard passengers’ safety.

While Uber says it screens drivers and conducts background checks, critics say it uses private screening services that don’t have access to as much information as local police can obtain when they check fingerprint records.

San Francisco’s district attorney is spearheading a lawsuit that alleges Uber misled passengers into believing its driver background checks are the most comprehensive available.

In their lawsuit, San Francisco prosecutors detailed how police there and in Los Angeles found 25 Uber drivers who had serious criminal histories that were not flagged during the background check or may have been disregarded by Uber.

Uber has countered by saying that in 2014, at least 600 active taxi drivers who also applied to Uber in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco failed its background check for problems such as violent crimes.

mmartinez@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2401

Twitter.com/MikeMartinez_DN

The Associated Press contributed.

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