Ridesharing Under Heavy Regulation in San Antonio

imgres-7Ridesharing is in the hotseat in San Antonio.

Last Thursday, the San Antonio City Council passed changes to its code to allow services like Lyft and Uber to operate legally in the city.

But Uber and Lyft call the city’s regulations too costly and cumbersome. Uber reported it might leave the city altogether if the regulations passed. Uber even posted an online petition which has garnered 10,877 signatures, to oppose the regulations.

“The proposed ordinance creates extensive, unnecessary requirements for part-time drivers, creates barriers to entry for drivers and significantly deviates from the standards set by every other Texas municipality that has enacted TNC regulations,” according to a letter Uber wrote to the city council.

The new regulations require “transportation network companies,” also known to most people as ride-sharing companies, to train and vet their drivers and require vehicle inspections and insurance.

Uber already complies with the insurance requirements; mandating drivers carry $1 million in automobile liability coverage. It’s the other requirements that would require Uber drivers to pay up to $300 a year to comply with the regulations, according to Uber’s letter. Those regulations would require drivers to get a full physical and eye exam before driving, take a pre-scheduled drug test, complete a defensive driving course, and “have the vehicle subject to expensive, random checks even though they would also be required to have a third-party inspection by an ASE certified mechanic.”

The city leaders think the regulations will make ridesharing safer, according to its statement. But Uber reports that cases of DWI go down in cities in which it operates.

“I am pleased to welcome Lyft, Uber, and other TNCs to San Antonio. We look forward to the convenience and economic benefits this will bring to San Antonio and its residents,” Mayor Ivy R. Taylor said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Lyft told Reuters that the San Antonio regulations were some of the most burdensome they had encountered. Lyft, founded in 2012, currently operates in 65 cities.

The San Antonio Express News’ Brian Chasnoff wrote a column about taxicab contributions to city council members suggesting money from the incumbent industry influenced the vote.

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