Fortunately for Alamo City residents, San Antonio City Council yesterday voted to extend a ridesharing-friendly regulatory framework which will allow companies such as Uber and Lyft to continue operating in the city.
Over the past few years the relationship between ridesharing companies and city hall has been tense, at best – with the two companies threatening to leave several times. In 2015, the two companies ceased operations when City Hall mandated a 10 fingerprint background check policy. The City later gave them a temporary pass.
Yesterday, council voted to extend that pass for another year.
Though the city is not mandating background checks, they still encourage drivers to get them. The city plans to incentivize the checks in the future by offering pre-paid gas cards to drivers who undergo the background checks.
The vote passed 9-2, with only councilmembers Ray Lopez (District 6) and Mike Gallagher (District 10) voting against it due to the flexible background check policy. Those that voted for the measure were adamant about data collection going forward for the purpose of public safety.
Such discretion is encouraging, especially given the clamoring by would-be regulators (mainly taxi-cab drivers and their associates) who would rather see their competition gone. Such was the case in Austin, where City Council (at the behest of the established cab lobby) pushed to regulate the companies out of town, ultimately choosing to dodge culpability by drafting a nebulously worded ballot proposition, which is currently the subject of an ongoing lawsuit.
Austin could learn a lot from San Antonio in this instance. While some regulation may be necessary, it is encouraging to see that the Alamo City is not pursuing such with the same self-interested fervor as their neighbor to the north.