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Technology & Entrepreneurship

Mayor Taylor To Uber/Lyft Fans: 'Make Your Voices Heard'

Speaking to a crowd of two to three hundred Tuesday night at the Burleson Yard Beer Garden, Mayor Ivy Taylor, wearing a "Keep Ride Share SA" tee-shirt, gave fans of Uber and Lyft their marching orders, 

"Send an email, place a phone call to your council member. Make your voices heard," she said.

The Mayor urged action less than two weeks from a vote that could determine the future of the two companies in San Antonio. The vote is on whether to extend a pilot-program that made fingerprint background checks optional, something current ordinances mandate for Taxi drivers. The companies, which conduct their own background check for employment, suspended operation in San Antonio once for a similar regulation and other rules the companies said were burdensome. 

Tech Bloc, a San Antonio technology advocacy organization, along with the Mothers Against Drunk Driving sponsored the event and pointed to the drop in alcohol-related crashes and arrests since the Uber and Lyft returned.  They called this the real public-safety threat.

Mayor Taylor said data from the pilot program told her consumers aren't as concerned with the additional background check, "From the statistics I've seen I do not believe that the riders are as concerned with drivers having fingerprints as some of us elected officials have been," Taylor said.

Traditional taxi companies have called the disparity in regulations unfair, and cited several assault allegations against Uber and Lyft drivers across the country as reasons to make fingerprint background checks mandatory.

According to an October 12 presentation to Council, one sexual assault was alleged and was still under investigation. Four other less serious incidents were alleged most without criminal proceedings. No criminal convictions arose. It is currently unclear whether fingerprint background checks would have had an impact.

City staff and San Antonio Police will again present recommendations on continuing the current framework to City Council on Wednesday.