Mayor Ivy Taylor's statement on rideshare insurance requirements
SAN ANTONIO – New smart phone applications make people's lives easier and more convenient. Many San Antonio residents have embraced the options offered by Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). However, regulation of TNCs is a hotly-debated topic across the United States and the globe, reflecting the rapid growth of new technologies allowing real-time information sharing and the difficulty in applying codes crafted before such technologies existed. Because the TNCs' business models are so new, the treatment of these companies differs greatly from state to state and even from city to city within the same state. The Texas legislature is expected to take up TNC regulation during the 2015 session.
Last year San Antonio City Council adopted regulations addressing TNC operation. While my City Council colleagues and I want to facilitate the economic development and transportation opportunities offered by TNCs, we remain committed to public safety first. Passengers, TNCs, operators and other drivers will all benefit from the assurance that a driver and vehicle are safe.
City Council was fully aware of the challenges of regulating an emerging industry—and of anticipating the response of another major industry, the insurance sector—and directed staff to conduct a review of the ordinance after six months and again after one year of implementation. Given the concern from the general public, TNC drivers and the TNC companies, we have expedited the initial review and are conducting it now. As part of the review process, city staff and elected officials and their staff are meeting regularly with TNC representatives.
At this time, it is not feasible to implement the insurance standards specified in the existing ordinance because products that provide drivers with the required "gap" coverage are not yet available in Texas. I will ask my City Council colleagues to revisit the insurance requirements and delay the applicability of the gap coverage requirement until a conforming insurance product is available or the legislature takes action to set a statewide standard, whichever comes first. We are exploring the following options, among others, to ease the regulatory burden of the existing ordinance:
· Stating that in-person application requirement is satisfied by the provision that applicants obtain a ten-point fingerprint check;
· Allowing random drug-testing as an acceptable alternative to pre-employment screening;
· Clarifying that TNCs can determine the level of English-language proficiency required for the safe and effective use of their platform;
· Considering alternative fee and payment processes and structures; and
· Clarifying access to and use of TNC data.