Uber, the popular ridesharing company, has officially announced that it will cease operations in the City of San Antonio if the regulatory framework adopted by city council in December is allowed to go into effect on its scheduled date of March 1. Uber had already stated in a letter to city council shortly after the vote that the new regulations “would force transportation networking companies (TNCs) to abandon service in San Antonio.”
San Antonio already had some of the most restrictive regulations for TNC’s, according to free-market think-tank R Street Institute. It comes as little surprise then that the city would “welcome” Uber and Lyft with a regulatory framework that acts as a de-facto prohibition.
In the same letter, Texas General Manager Chris Nakutis cites Austin as an example of “sensible regulatory frameworks” and “smart regulations,” before going on to criticize San Antonio for doing exactly the opposite. Critics have decried the measures as blatant protectionism for the city’s established cab operation (who — shockingly — composed a majority of the support for adopting said framework).
According to Nakutis, the ordinance “applies insurance levels significantly higher than what is required of taxis in the city and creates unnecessary hurdles and costs for those who want to make a living using the Uber platform.”
Unlike government programs, Uber has to continually make a profit, both for its managers and drivers in order to maintain operations. It is a shame that the framework adopted by city council has reflected their consistent lack of concern for their citizens’ mobility options. Their heavy-handed protectionism may end up costing their citizens potential jobs.