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Will San Antonio City Council Consider Easing Taxi Cab Regulations?


San Antonio City Council votes Thursday on whether to kick Lyft and Uber out of the Alamo City, um, we mean, votes on proposed regulations for the ride-share companies. - ALEXA GARCIA-DITTA
  • Alexa Garcia-Ditta
  • San Antonio City Council votes Thursday on whether to kick Lyft and Uber out of the Alamo City, um, we mean, votes on proposed regulations for the ride-share companies.

The traditional vehicle-for-hire industry is facing fierce competition from transportation network companies all across Texas.

San Antonio is no different, but it is the only large city in the Lone Star State that has found a regulatory middle ground with companies like Lyft, Uber and Get Me.

Right now, the City has held one round table for public feedback on the 9-month pilot program the transportation network companies agreed to, and will hold another on Wednesday, June 1, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at TriPoint YMCA Grantham Hall (3233 N. St. Mary's St.). In June, after public input and San Antonio Police Department ride-share data are combined and presented to City Council during a B session, the pilot program is expected to go to a vote before the full council. 

However, while all eyes are on ride-share, there could be changes for Uber and Lyft's staunchest competition in San Antonio: taxi cabs.

Councilman Roberto Treviño, who has spearheaded the ride-share compromise in San Antonio, confirmed via email that adjusting taxi cab regulations is on the table.

"I believe taxi regulations like many other regulations should have a lifespan and must be adjusted to respond to changing times and technology," Treviño said. "We are working on this next step for the the entire transportation code."

He's not the only one talking about this either.

In an opinion column published in the Austin American-Statesman, Austin City Councilwoman Ellen Troxclair says the city, which both Uber and Lyft stopped operating in when voters declined to ease regulations on the company, should work to bring back transportation network companies as quickly as possible. She says San Antonio is the model Austin City Council should look to for guidance. But she also says the City should ease regulatory burdens on taxis, as well.

After Austinites voted down Proposition 1 last month, which was supported by Uber and Lyft, who spent millions on that campaign, Republican Senator Charles Schwertner, of Georgetown, said he will file a bill during the 2017 Legislature to regulate transportation network companies on the state level, removing local control.

He also agrees that easing regulations on the traditional vehicle-for-hire industry should be on the table.

"We’re going to look at it all," he said. "I think it’s high time that we do so."

House Rep. Diego Bernal, who represents a strip of San Antonio from the Downtown area to Castle Hills and sits on the House Urban Affairs Committee, also believes it's time to talk about taxi cab regulations.

"The idea that cities get to decide how many taxis are on the road ... [that a] company only gets so many, that seems so archaic to me," Bernal said. "I think that putting the power in consumers is really the way to go."

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