San Antonio Police warned today that those on line car sharing apps like 'Lyft' and 'Uber' are illegal, and drivers who pick up passengers for cash risk being arrested.
"You might be one of these drivers who is summoned for a ride, and you won't know who summoned you," McManus warned. "It could be a police officer, and you'll be in trouble."
1200 WOAI news was first to report earlier this week that Lyft, which bills itself as 'your friend with a car,' is looking for drivers in San Antonio.
McManus said he sent Lyft a 'strongly worded cease and desist letter' today, warning them not to set up operations in San Antonio unless they conform to taxi regulations.
"I want to warn anybody in the city who may be tempted to use this service to be very very careful."
Lyft says it is no different from a friend giving another friend a ride. The passenger doesn't pay a fare, he or she gives a 'donation' to the driver.
But McManus says no matter how you cut it, taking anybody anyplace on city streets for cash is a violation of the city's strict taxi ordinances.
"The problem with this is, the public is put in danger," he said. "You don't know who is going to show up, you don't know what the condition is that the car is in that you're going to get into."
He says taxi drivers are registered with the city, and their vehicles are inspected by the city. He says Lyft vehicles are not, the passenger doesn't know about the driver's history, and the drivers are not required to demonstrate any knowledge of San Antonio geography, as taxi drivers have to do.
"They are not regulated, and there is no advantage to getting into one of these cars, where you get into one of these cars and you don't know what their background is. The public is put in danger."
McManus also warned that most Texas auto insurance policies do not cover people who carry passengers 'for hire.'
"They are in direct violation of our city ordinances," he said. “There are very strict rules as to who is issued a taxi drivers permit, and these people do not follow under our requirements.”
He said city taxi drivers are also drug tested, and if there is a dispute over the fare, which is regulated, customers can turn to the city, something which is not the case with 'Lyft.'