In the recent rideshare discussions, City Council had one goal –– to consider the public safety interests of our residents and to welcome innovation and technology to San Antonio. Public safety is always a top priority for City Councilmembers, and it was at the forefront of every discussion regarding rideshare in San Antonio. We also know that as a global city, we must remain competitive by welcoming innovators. As the councilmember representing our downtown where these rideshare companies thrive and where the demand for transportation options is high, my priority was to find a solution that would work effectively for our city when Mayor Taylor asked me to lead the negotiations.
Over many months of negotiations, we took a collaborative approach through outreach to our constituents, TechBloc, representatives from rideshare companies, the San Antonio Police Department and the offices of the City Manager and Mayor. With input from these sources, we hammered out a solution between the rideshare companies and the city, and a pilot program was created to allow the return of rideshare to San Antonio and provide for the well-being of our residents. The collective goal of creating a viable solution drove all parties to cooperate, and we now have a driver background-verification agreement that balances all our priorities.
The pilot program allows for consumer choice through optional, free background checks for rideshare drivers. Those drivers who elect to be fingerprinted will receive a special alphanumeric code next to their name in the app. Riders then have a choice: they can choose drivers who have been verified by SAPD or opt to ride with a driver who is not. The control is in the hands of the rideshare user, and we think that’s the way it should be.
San Antonio is a “City by Design” – a place where we thoughtfully look at all of our options to find the best solutions for all stakeholders. Our methodology must be careful, considered and thorough, so we can create long-term remedies, not just short-term fixes. One important aspect of this process is hearing and including the thoughts and concerns of our constituents each step of the way. Rideshare discussions engage many people because this is an issue that is important to them. So to those who spoke out about rideshare: please stay interested and involved! We need our tech industry activists to keep sharing their unique abilities to solve important issues. Our private transportation service providers should evaluate their rules and regulations.
We all need to be together at the table, using our knowledge and experiences to advance dialogue and make progress as a city. We can use rideshare as a framework for discussions about other major issues San Antonio faces. The rideshare discussions in San Antonio served as a catalyst to address many transportation-related issues in our city, and we look forward to continuing them with you.
For more information on the San Antonio Police Department’s free rideshare driver verification program, visit sanantonio.gov/sapd/ProgramsandServices/rideshare.aspx.