The San Antonio Transportation Advisory Board tonight is expected to consider proposals to integrate the 'ride sharing' services Uber and Lyft into the city's taxi system, if the new Internet driven companies meet several key city requirements, Newsradio 1200 WOAI's Michael Board has learned.
The recommendation would still have to be approved by City Council, and that is by far not a sure thing. Taxi drivers are expected to express their opposition to any incorporation of the ride sharing services as accepted vehicle for hire firms.
The new rules would govern safety, including background checks and mandatory inspections.
Richard Perez, the President of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and a former member of City Council, says that city oversight is essential for the services to work.
"I am so hopeful that they can come to the table and incorporate some of those rules into their operating procedures," Perez said.
San Antonio Police have been staging undercover 'stings' to stop the firms from operating. Until and unless City Council takes action, those 'stings' are expected to continue.
"They have to have certain checks for their vehicles," Perez said. "They have to have certain levels of insurance, and they have to have background checks for their drivers."
The firms operate on the bases that they are 'a friend with a car.' They work similarly to the relationship you would have with a friend or a spouse, if you car is in the shop, he or she would give you a ride in exchange for 'gas money.' Uber and Lyft summon cabs by the use of a smart phone app, and rather than a 'fare,' the users make a 'donation' to the driver, a 'donation' which has been agreed upon in advance.
A federal lawsuit is currently in the works that seeks to have Lyft and Uber declared in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yellow Cab drivers are required, at their own expense, to install wheelchair lifts on their cabs so they can handle disabled customers. Since Uber and Lyft drivers use their own personal vehicles, they generally do not have equipment to help the disabled.
Cab drivers also say Uber and Lyft illegally discriminate agaisnt customers because they generally serve only the north side and downtown, and do not provide service to parts of town where lower income people live. They are also concerned that Uber and Lyft require a smart phone and a debit card to operate, excluding potential customers, again generally low income people,' who don't have those items.