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Ride-Share Services Remain Illegal As City Works To Include Them In Ordinance

Ryan Loyd
TPR News

Lyft drivers across the city are picking up riders and dropping them off. The mobile app is one indication of the company still operating illegally in San Antonio, where a cease-and-desist order remains in place.

This week, the city council's public safety committee upheld the city's stance on the company and decided to form a task force that will make recommendations on how to implement Transportation Network Companies (TNC) so they will fit into the current Chapter 33 vehicle-for-hire ordinance.

A panel of interested parties, including a representative from the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the automobile insurance industry, will study the issue and present findings to the public safety committee in November.

San Antonio police said nothing has changed, and as of now officers will continue to enforce the ordinance.

This week, citizens again filled the city council chambers to make their case before the committee. In the end, those with concerns, like Yellow Cab employee Mary Jane Ortiz, won the committee members over.

"They can't follow the law or the ordinance or respect of your instructions of not operating their business for now, ladies and gentlemen of the board, what makes you think they will follow any ordinance?" Ortiz said.

George Alva chairs the Transportation Advisory Board.

"These companies force local governments to respond to them. Do you honestly feel that rewarding them with their own personal set of biased unfair and unbalanced laws is the proper response to their invasion? I think not," he said.

Patricia, a Lyft driver, also spoke before the committee. She said she drives overnights for a purpose.

She told the story of her son who, after a party, tried climbing into one vehicle but it was too crowded. He opted for a second vehicle. Patricia said the first vehicle ended up in an accident that killed the driver.

She now is on a mission to drive those who otherwise may drink and drive.

"I understand that drinking and driving is a big problem in all of our cities in Texas," she told the committee. " In everything that I do with Lyft is to help prevent that. So driving those hours, about 90% of the people have driven home safely have been out drinking and that is one of the pluses of working for Lyft."

District 9 Councilman Joe Krier, who sits on the public safety committee, said he's disappointed the companies have continued to operate. But he is optimistic cab drivers and Lyft can find a common ground.

He said Lyft should be a part of the conversation to decide how the issue moves forward.

Despite the setback, a Lyft spokesperson also remained upbeat.

"We appreciate the city of San Antonio's desire to work collaboratively and we look forward to starting conversations with the task force about Lyft's peer-to-peer model and commitment to safety," said Chelsea Wilson in an email. "While there is still work to be done, progress thus far has been positive and we look forward to seeing Lyft's peer-to-peer model recognized in San Antonio soon."

The task force will attempt to form recommendations that transportation leaders close to the issue already tried doing. An early November date has been set for the results to be delivered. This time, though, it will put the matter officially in the hands of council members to decide how to move forward.