90ºF

Council approves ride-share laws

Changes go into effect April 1

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio City Council members approved Thursday a series of proposed changes to new policies created to regulate the local ride-share industry.

If the new rules go into effect April 1, Uber officials said the ride-share company would abandon operations in San Antonio.

"You have thousands of drivers in San Antonio and with a press of 11 buttons, they've just killed thousands of jobs in San Antonio," said Uber Texas General Manager Chris Nakutis.

The vote was 8-2, with council members Ray Lopez and Rebecca Viagran voting against the proposals.

"This will not be the best ordinance for any of the industries involved, but this will be the best ordinance for the people of San Antonio," said District 2 Councilman Alan Warrick, who voted on the issue for the first time since joining the council.

Warrick and District 1 Councilman Robert Trevino lead the effort to bring Uber and Lyft back to the table after they threatened to abandon operations in San Antonio after a December vote approving new ride-share laws.

Though the two sides were able to reach a compromise on several issues, Uber officials said the city requiring a 10-fingerprint background check, in addition to Uber's background check, is unnecessary. They also took issue with new permitting fees that would cost up to $25,000 to operate in San Antonio.

"They killed a means for (drivers) to make money," said Nakutis. "They've regressed on the insurance and on the driver requirements. It's not a function of how far we've come, but where we ultimately end up. This is one of the worst (TNC ordinances)."

Uber drivers like Charles Bray showed up at City Hall to make a final plea to council members.

"This is how I can provide for my family," he said. "If Uber was to leave San Antonio, then that would leave me without any reliable means to support my family until I can find another job."

But cab drivers like Debra Davis also showed up in force in hopes that the council will make transportation network companies play by the same set of regulations as cab companies do.

"All we ask is that the TNCs abide by the rules," Davis said. "We're not asking them to do anything strenuous. We're not asking them to go out and make their own living, making an income without caring about what they do and what they do it do."

Click here to read a statement from Mayor Ivy Taylor on Wednesday's vote.

Lyft issued the following statement following the City Council's ruling:

"While we appreciate the City Council's efforts, the ordinance passed today still includes burdensome requirements that make it nearly impossible for ridesharing to operate in the city. In contrast to states and major cities across the country, San Antonio's ride-sharing rules create a bureaucratic burden for casual drivers while delivering no new benefits to the public. Lyft has pioneered rigorous safety processes and consumers are embracing this new service. Without significant revisions to the ordinance before implementation, we will be forced to make the difficult decision to pause Lyft's operations in San Antonio."

City Council plans to review the impact of the changes in September.

The following is a list of changes made to the ordinance Thursday, courtesy of the City of San Antonio:

Insurance Requirements

•      Period One (logged on to the app, not matched with a passenger):

o      $50K/$100K/$20K primary liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage

•      Period Two (logged on to the app, matched with, or transporting, a passenger):

             o      $1,000,000 primary commercial liability coverage

Public Safety

•     Drivers to be provisionally permitted upon passing the TNC's background check. Drivers will be issued a full permit if they submit to the City reviewed background check within 14 days.

•     Audited random drug testing.

Driver/Vehicle Requirements

•   Allow TNCs to attest that all driver requirements have been met (subject to City audit); eliminating the need for every TNC driver to bring their vehicle(s) and all accompanying documentation to City staff, in person.

•    No English proficiency requirement for TNC drivers.

•    No requirement for TNC drivers to carry a fire extinguisher in their vehicle.

Fees
•      Establish the following preliminary fee schedule for TNCs, based on the number of drivers each company has registered on their platform, in order to adequately fund enforcement of the ordinance:

Drivers

Annual Fee

1-10

$

625

11-50

$

3,125

51-100

$

6,250

101-300

$

18,750

More than 300

$

25,000


About the Authors: