San Antonio City Council to discuss “rogue” taxi apps

Smart phone apps causing headaches for cab companies nationwide

Author: Cory Smith, Reporter, csmith@ksat.com
Published On: Mar 20 2013 10:44:56 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 21 2013 02:17:03 AM CDT
SAN ANTONIO -

Licensed cab companies across the country are facing competition from companies that use “rogue apps” to book customer reservations.

“Rogue apps” allow companies to bypass a city’s regulatory requirements and send unlicensed cars, known as “gypsy cabs”, and unpermitted drivers to pick up passengers.

At their Thursday meeting, San Antonio City Council members will discuss changes to current city code that would prevent “rogue apps” from operating within the city.

Star Cab driver Cruz Chivara is concerned that, without proper enforcement, the apps could take business away from cab companies that play by the rules.

“If you let a gypsy operation grow because you're not paying adequate attention to it, you're not enforcing, you’re not on the lookout for that kind of thing, then it'll flourish,” Chivara said.

The changes would include language that prevents unapproved applications from operating.

Council members will also explore strengthening penalties and stepping up enforcement to deter the promotion and dispatching of unlicensed cabs.

“Rogue apps” could also impact limousine services because the unlicensed drivers can charge whatever rate they wish.

Lonestar Limo driver Clayton Laughlan said the apps create unfair competition in the industry.

“If they (customers) call somebody randomly that's on their smart phone and they get offered to be picked up for $35, that raises a red flag,” Laughlan said. “It seems a little bit too cheap. There's either something wrong with the vehicle or they’re not registered with the city.”

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