Following three hours of discussion, the City Council of San Antonio on Thursday voted six to five in favor of a nine-month pilot agreement with Lyft.
It’s been a bumpy ride so far for ridesharing companies operating in San Antonio. Lyft originally launched in March of 2014. Uber launched shortly after that. Then in December the City announced a set of new regulations for the ridesharing companies, also known as Transportation Network Companies.
In March, Lyft and Uber threatened to move out of the city because of the new regulations, which required costly background checks for drivers, car inspections and more. They made good on that promise and ceased operations.
Now Lyft is back. It must pay the city $18,750 to operate for nine months. Its drivers also have the option of getting a 10-fingerprint FBI background check, but it is not required. Also, Lyft will include a picture and profile of its drivers on its app for customers.
April Mims, a spokeswoman with Lyft, told the city council the ridesharing company already does extensive background checks on its drivers and only 21 percent of applicants get accepted as Lyft drivers.
Lyft already provides GPS tracking, share your route tracking for customers, $1 million in commercial insurance and a two way rating system for all of its drivers, Mims said.
Lyft has riding sharing agreements already with 26 state legislatures and dozens of cities, Mims said.
Opponents of the agreement showed a video of a nationwide compilation of cases of Uber drivers allegedly accused of rape, sexual assault and kidnapping.
Several cab drivers also spoke to the council to oppose the agreement saying the agreement created an unfair playing field for the ridesharing companies that didn’t have to comply with the same regulations as cab companies. They also expressed concerns about safety.
Members of Techbloc, a new technology advocacy group in San Antonio, told city council ridesharing reduces drunk driving and provides more transportation options to citizens and it’s an option that helps attract and retain a tech-savvy workforce.