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Uber returns to San Antonio

They’re back.


The ink had barely dried on the signed operating agreement when ride-hailing firm Uber restarted operations in San Antonio Tuesday, ahead of competitor Lyft, which agreed to a deal in August but has yet to implement services here.

The Uber smart-phone application went live Tuesday at about 3:30 p.m., just as the company and the city of San Antonio sent out separate media releases.

“I am pleased to announce that Uber is returning to San Antonio,” Mayor Taylor said in a prepared statement.

Taylor said the “city of San Antonio is committed to providing safe transportation options, and we are excited to welcome Uber, a company facilitating more than one million safe rides a day, back to town. This operating agreement provides consumer choice when it comes to personal safety and allows for innovative transportation options to move around San Antonio.”

She also lauded the service for creating a way for people to earn extra income on their own schedules.

Uber and Lyft ceased operations here on April 1, when a local ordinance took effect that required drivers to first pass a fingerprint background check conducted by the city. The two companies maintain that their third-party criminal checks, based on drivers’ Social Security numbers, are superior to the fingerprint background check used by the city.

Under the operating agreement reached with the city — a nine-month pilot program — drivers must pass their company’s background check. But they can also opt to voluntarily do the city’s check, and then note that they’ve passed it in their driver profiles. Consumers can then decide whether they want their drivers to have gone the extra mile.

See here, here, and here for the background. As the story notes, Uber had been operating in the suburbs (unlike Lyft), so it was easy for them to turn on service in San Antonio proper again. Lyft is also returning to San Antonio, though there’s no timetable for that as yet. Removing the mandatory fingerprint requirement for drivers to get a permit has been both companies’ goal; Uber operates in Houston despite that requirement, while Lyft does not. I’ve been asking the Mayoral candidates whether they think Houston should revisit its vehicles for hire ordinance in the interviews I’ve been doing, so be sure to listen to them to hear what they think. The city of Austin is in the process of finalizing its rideshare requirements, so we’ll see if they follow the Houston model or the San Antonio model. The Rivard Report and the Current have more.

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