San Antonio ordinance forces Uber and Lyft to reevaluate operations in city

Recent changes by the City Council of San Antonio raise the price for ride-share programs such as Lyft and Uber drivers to operate.  The new policy will require drivers to have extensive background checks, vehicle checks and personal insurance; additionally, the permit to become a driver will be raised to $175. The San Antonio City Council voted, passing the ordinance 7-2. The ordinance will take effect on March 1 of this year.

The raised prices to use Uber in San Antonio will make operating difficult according to the general manager of Uber Texas Chris Nakutis. Nakutis responded to the new ordinance by sending a letter to the San Antonio city council member Rebecca Viagran.

“We are continuing to make ourselves available to work with the city to protect these individuals’ access to the Uber platform” Nakutis said. “However, San Antonio will need to dramatically alter the pending regulations in order for us to continue to operate.”

Nakutis also notes in his letter the benefits of allowing ride-share programs to continue to operate within the city of San Antonio, such as preventing potential drunk driving accidents.

“A recent survey indicated that Uber’s presence in a city makes streets safer for everyone by reducing drunk driving,” Nakutis said. “Bexar County had a staggering 2,303 alcohol-related crashes last year, and we know that reducing the number of drunk drivers is a major priority for the city.”

“A recent survey indicated that Uber’s presence in a city makes streets safer for everyone by reducing drunk driving,” Nakutis said. “Bexar County had a staggering 2,303 alcohol-related crashes last year, and we know that reducing the number of drunk drivers is a major priority for the city.”

Along with Nakutis, the Uber general manager for San Antonio Henry Carr, sent out an email to all of the local drivers. Carr encouraged drivers to take action and speak to the local city council members.

“Contact your city council members and urge them to REPEAL AND REPLACE this ordinance. For driver partners like you, we aren’t giving up—so don’t give up either,” said Carr in his letter.

The legislation itself was made with the intention of creating a safer experience for both drivers and riders of ride-share companies. Carr and Nakutis both clearly stated Uber’s stand that if the ordinance is not repealed by May 1 they will discontinue operation in San Antonio.

“If this ordinance goes into effect on March 1, we will have no choice but to leave town,” Carr said.

Trinity students have also begun to voice their concerns regarding the potential loss of Uber, citing the risk of potential drunk driving accidents traveling to and from campus.

“There are three or four colleges in town and the amount of drunk driving that would happen if that changed would go up so much,” said first year Claire Poland.

Students prefer using the new ride-sharing system due to Uber’s efficiency and easy to use app. Along with the easy system, the prices remain lower than local taxis.

“Taxis are way more expensive than a Lyft or an Uber, in general. It’s super easy to call Lyft or Uber, it’s an app where you tap the screen,” Poland said.

Despite local protests by both taxi drivers to keep the ordinance and rideshare drivers to repeal it, the ordinance has remained and will go into effect starting the beginning of May.