By a 6-5 vote, San Antonio City Council approved a nine-month pilot program today to bring Lyft back.
Lyft and its competitor Uber pulled out of San Antonio in March after squabbling with the city over background checks. City Council approved stricter background check requirements, which the TNCs deemed too onerous.
“Sometimes public policy moves by three yards and a cloud of dust. This agreement with Lyft is one small step, but it is one I am glad we have finally made," Councilman Ron Nirenberg, who voted for the pilot program, said in a news release. "This issue has always been about consumer choice and a level playing field. That’s why I have voted to reduce barriers to market entry every time this has come before council. Lack of transportation options causes congestion, costs jobs, and makes San Antonio roads more dangerous."
Mayor Ivy Taylor supported the pilot program, as did council members Alan Warrick, Joe Krier, Nirenberg, Roberto Trevino and Rey Saldana. The five council members to oppose the program were Mike Gallagher, Rebecca Viagran, Cris Medina, Shirley Gonzales and Ray Lopez.
Lyft will pay San Antonio $18,750 to operate during the nine-month period. And there are plenty of other strings attached. Here’s how the great Mark Reagan broke them down earlier this week:
• Drivers can voluntarily submit to a 10-point fingerprint identity verification criminal background check. Riders will have an option to choose drivers that agreed to the additional background check and drivers that are veterans.
• The pilot-program is designed so the city can gather performance data on ride-share company operations in San Antonio, with intent to inform any additional changes to the city's vehicle-for-hire ordinance.
• Requires ride-share companies to conduct initial and annual third-party criminal background and driver history checks.
• Drivers must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and receive related training.
• There's a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, any kind of harassment and for discrimination, as outlined in the city's non-discrimination ordinance.
• Ride-share companies, drivers, or both must meet new state insurance requirementsbefore participating in the pilot program.
• Requires an inspection before a vehicle begins operating.
• Lets the city conduct random visual inspections of active drivers and vehicles.
• The ride-share companies will provide certain operations data to city staff each quarter.
• And they'll have to pay $1 for trips originating at the airport.
• Both parties may terminate the agreement with 30 days notice.
The new agreement does not include Uber, which still does not operate in San Antonio. Although city officials have met recently with Uber representatives, it's unclear when a new deal will come.
Read the city's operating agreement with Lyft below: