What is billed as a 'compromise' which would allow the so called Transportation Network Companies Uber and Lyft to operate in San Antonio alongside traditional taxi cab firms will be presented to the City Council Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, Newsradio 1200 WOAI's Stephanie Narvaez has learned.
This compromise is similar to proposals which have allowed the services to operate in other cities, most notably a deal reached in Houston last week.
The proposal which the Council committee will consider will require that the 'ride share' firms which allow traditional commuters to use their vehicles to pick up fares who summon them on a smart phone app, meet the same standards which Yellow Cab drivers currently have to meet.
Among the requirements, to carry a minimum of $1 million in bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage insurance, to undergo a full criminal background check, complete with a 'ten finger' fingerprint test, and pay the standard taxicab licensing fee of $160 per year.
In addition, Uber and Lyft, and any other TNC's which plan to enter the market, will not be 'permitted to utilize cab stands, loading zones, solicit passengers, accept 'street hails,' accept cash or checks as payment, and the companies may not under any circumstances 'own lease or finance' the vehicles that the drivers will use.'
They also must submit vehicle inspection documents on demand.
But John Bouloubasis, the President of Yellow Cab of San Antonio, says there is no 'compromising' the safety and security of passengers, or the city's vital tourism industry, and he will not accept the proposal.
"It is not a compromise," he said. "Any time you have any rules that are different, you are playing with public safety."
The cab drivers have long contended that the entry of the TNC's into the market will place the city’s valuable tourism industry at risk. Yellow Cabs currently carry about 2 million passengers per year, many of them either business or recreational tourists whose first, last, and sometimes their most enduring experience of San Antonio is the taxi ride they receive.
"I don't know why we need to change our standards or lower our standards just because they want to enter the market," Bouloubasis said. "Why don't they raise their standards? We're just asking for fair competition."