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Science & Technology

Ride-Booking Company Lyft May Return To San Antonio

lyft_program_140407.jpg
Ryan Loyd
/
TPR News

Lyft may be coming back to San Antonio as soon as next week. The San Antonio City Council will vote Thursday on a new operating agreement with the ride-sharing company. 

The agreement would give Lyft and other transportation network company (TNC) drivers the option to undergo a more stringent city background check instead of making it mandatory. Lyft conducts its own seven-year background check.

If an individual driver passes the city’s check, the driver can advertise that on Lyft 's digital app.  Drivers can also use the app to tell riders they're military veterans. The pilot program would last nine months.

You can view the city's agreement here.

Details include:

  • LYFT shall pay an operating fee of $18,750.00 to the CITY within sixty calendar days of relaunching in San Antonio that will represent the required operating fee for the entire nine-month term of this agreement.
  • For each trip originating at the San Antonio International Airport (the "Airport"), LYFT shall pay $1.00 to the CITY. LYFT shall make said payment to the CITY within ten business days following the end of any calendar month during the term of this contract and within ten business days of the effective date of the termination of this contract.
  • Prior to permitting a person to act as a LYFT operator on its digital network, and each year thereafter, LYFT shall obtain and review a driving history research report for such person. Any person with more than three moving violations or a single major violation in the three-year period before the date of the driving history report shall not be permitted to be a LYFT operator. 
  • LYFT shall provide a LYFT operator the option to identify whether the LYFT operator (1) has voluntarily undergone and passed a criminal background check as approved by the city; and (2) is a military veteran or active member of the military.
  • Prior to permitting a person to act as a LYFT operator on its digital network, and each year thereafter, LYFT shall obtain and review a criminal history research report for such person. The criminal background check shall be a national criminal background check, performed by a provider accredited by the National Association of Professional Screeners, which shall include a review of the national sex offender database. Any person who has been convicted, within the past seven years, of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who has been convicted at any time of homicide, kidnapping, any sexual offense, any assaultive offense, robbery, possession of a weapon in violation of Chapter 46 of the Texas Penal Code, violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act (Chapter 483 of the Texas Health and Safety Code), or the Controlled Substances Act (Chapter 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code) that is punishable as a felony, or an offense under the laws of another state if the offense contains elements that are substantially similar to the elements of the specified Texas provisions, or use of a motor vehicle to commit a felony, shall not be permitted to be a LYFT operator. LYFT will maintain electronic records of such criminal background checks for a period of two years.

Ride-booking companies stopped operation in San Antonio earlier this year following a revised ride-for-hire ordinance passed by the council in April. The companies at the time said the ordinance was unworkable. 
This summer, Mayor Ivy Taylor asked District 1 Councilman Robert Treviño to work with the companies to see if a new agreement could be reached by early August. 

“We are on our way – we have developed a great strategy within the business platform with flexibility that will allow additional TNCs to resume operations in San Antonio,” said Councilman Treviño. “This agreement is not exclusive to Lyft. We are open for any and all TNCs to operate in San Antonio and expand alternative transportation options in our community.”

So far, only Lyft has agreed to the arrangement.

Taylor praised the deal on Friday saying, “This has been a great week for innovation in San Antonio.”

“We have developed a ride-share business framework that meets the public safety considerations of the city, as well as requests from our residents to provide mobile transportation options in our community. The new agreement with Lyft provides San Antonians with the ability to make an informed mobile transportation choice,” she said.

Bringing back ride-booking companies is a major goal of TechBloc, a non-profit that represents the city’s tech industry. Tom Cuthbert, a board member, said the availability of ride-booking companies can sway people’s decisions on where to live. 

“Young people like to be able to be mobile.  They like to move around.  They like for safe options when they’re having fun at Fiesta, or having a drink at a bar to get home safely.  And ride-share is a great option for that,” Cuthbert said. “The other reason is that it’s a representation of a city being progressive, a city embracing technology.”

The agreement needs to be approved by the city council at its August 13 meeting.  There has been no mention of whether Uber, another ride-sharing company will return to San Antonio. Uber has not responded to Texas Public Radio's request for comment.