Bexar County suburban cities to consider offering ride-share permits

Windcrest City Council approves Uber 5-0 Wednesday evening

Startups like Uber -- an app that lets people hail a taxi or car service from their mobile phone -- say they are facing unfair legal challenges from the established players.

SAN ANTONIO – The Windcrest City Council voted 5-0 Wednesday evening to approve a resolution to enter into an interim operating agreement with the ride-share company Uber that would provide drivers with operating permits.

"We welcome Uber and we think it is a valuable asset for any community to have," said Windcrest Mayor Alan Baxter during a joint press conference with mayors form Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, and Hollywood Park.

The permits would allow Uber drivers to pick up passengers in those suburban cities and drop them off in San Antonio. Drivers are still prohibited from picking passengers up within San Antonio city limits.

"What we feel is that if it originates in Windcrest or any city that signs one of these agreements, that they can go anywhere freely," Baxter said.

The move is part of an ongoing effort to keep Uber from abandoning operation in Bexar County. The transportation network company plans to cease operations in San Antonio on April 1 when new ride-share laws go into effect.

Uber officials believe the policies are a barrier to do business, but suburban mayors cite the companies' ability to reduce the number of drunken driving charges and offer residents more choice as reasons why they're open to providing permits.

"Any opportunity to allow people to make a better choice than to get into a car after an evening out (drinking) is one that's good for all communities," said Tim Maloney, president of the Windcrest Economic Development Corporation.

Uber officials crafted the agreement's language. By signing, the cities would rely solely on Uber's background checks, drug policy, vehicle inspection, and insurance requirements -- something the city of San Antonio was not comfortable doing.

The mayors said they still welcome taxis and limos into their communities, but feel residents will benefit from more competition.

Louis Cooper, mayor of Alamo Heights, chastised San Antonio city leaders for their inability to craft a framework suitable to Uber's operation.

"We think competition is good, but we want our citizens to have a choice," Cooper said. "We feel is very short-sighted of the city of San Antonio not to allow our citizens to have choice."

The resolution would only apply to Uber drivers. Windcrest was the first to vote on the agreement. The Alamo Heights, Hollywood Park, and Olmos Park city councils will take up the item during upcoming meetings.

To read the interim operating agreement click here.