San Antonio City Council is slated to vote in March on a more diverse focus and membership for the City’s Transportation Advisory Board (TAB), which currently concentrates only on issues related to the private, for-hire transportation industry.
If approved as proposed, the new TAB would have a broad directive to consider transportation and mobility issues across the city – from micromobility such as scooters and bicycles to mass transportation.
City staff proposed these changes to that committee on Thursday and its members were receptive.
“I feel like [transportation] is one of our top priorities for our Council and would like to see [the citizen board have] a larger role,” said Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5), who chairs the Transportation and Mobility Committee.
Since the board was created in 1984, the San Antonio Police Department has handled its discussions, which initially centered on the licensing and regulatory review of transportation services licensed by the City: taxicabs, limousines, tour buses, and horse carriages. The board’s scope has been expanded to include pedicabs, group cycles, and ride-hailing companies such as Lyft and Uber.
A new purview would come with new oversight of the TAB, said Art Reinhardt, interim deputy director of the City’s Transportation and Capital Improvements (TCI) department. The TAB would provide feedback to a variety of different department staff as they develop projects, policies, and initiatives.
It also should have the ability to make recommendations to Council’s Transportation and Mobility Committee as well as the Council as a whole, Gonzales said.
Currently, the TAB is made up of 11 at-large voting members from the vehicle-for-hire industry and three “transportation consumers” as well as five nonvoting members representing City departments and the tourism industry.
The new TAB would also have 11 at-large voting members but represent a wider range of perspectives and expertise.
No more than two members could represent each category: vehicle for hire industry, transport of goods/freight industry, transportation professional (engineer, architect, planner), active transportation user (bike, pedestrian), public transportation user, transportation dependent (disabled, elderly), transportation justice and racial equity, environmental/sustainability, development/real estate professional, innovation/technology professional, health professional, community champion (non-expert, passionate about transportation).
Councilman Clayton Perry (D10) asked for more details on what qualifies a person for these categories.
“Sometimes when we get into specifics … that’s where we start getting into trouble of finding the right people to fill those positions,” Perry said.
Reinhardt said that because the members will be at-large, meaning they don’t have to come from a specific geographical boundary, membership should be easier to find.
The TAB, which typically meets monthly, met roughly six times last year, Reinhardt said. Some meetings were canceled because not enough voting members showed up.
Representatives from the TCI, SAPD, Center City Development and Operations Department, and Planning Department would hold nonvoting positions, as would the City’s offices of Equity, Innovation, and Sustainability and VIA Metropolitan Transit.
Joint Base San Antonio has also been invited to provide a nonvoting member, Reinhardt said.
With unanimous support from the Transportation and Mobility Committee, the TAB restructuring will be reviewed by the Council’s Governance Committee in February before City Council’s vote in March.