The 80/20 Foundation, the private foundation of Rackspace Co-founder and Chairman and interim CEO Graham Weston, has launched a petition on Change.org calling for Mayor Julián Castro’s support of rideshare in San Antonio.
“The City of San Antonio should embrace policies in support of entrepreneurship, ridesharing and welcome these apps to San Antonio to combat drunk driving, reduce road congestion, make a positive impact on the environment and improve public safety and transportation options for our community,” states the petition, 775 people have digitally signed it as of 4:23 p.m. Wednesday.
The petition was created by 80/20 Foundation Executive Director Lorenzo Gomez and his team and includes this video (embedded above, please refresh your browser window if video does not appear).
The mobile applications operated by Lyft and Uber, both based in San Francisco and establishing service in major cities nationwide and in some foreign countries, allow riders to hire nearby company-certified drivers, who operate their own vehicles, and sidestep traditional taxicab dispatch centers, commercial drivers licenses and municipal regulations/processes regarding “vehicles for hire.” The result is faster, friendlier and, in some cases, less expensive rides. Instead of criminal background checks and vehicle inspections carried out by traditional authorities, Lyft and Uber hire private companies/employees to do so.
[Read more: Idled for Now, ‘Rideshare’ Apps Offer Free Rides]
The petition comes a week after San Antonio and Houston taxicab companies filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. district court in Houston against Lyft and Uber.
“Essentially, RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) involves an intentional and repeated pattern and practice of violating laws in furtherance of a criminal enterprise,” stated Martyn B. Hill, the filing attorney with Pagel, Davis & Hill in a press release. “The suit is seeking an injunction to stop Uber and Lyft from operating illegally in the cities of Houston and San Antonio.”
Lyft and Uber continue to operate in San Antonio on a free, promotional basis to avoid citation from local authorities and to technically comply with San Antonio Police Department Chief William McManus’ cease and desist letter issued shortly after the rideshare companies arrived in March 2014.
According to the Houston Chronicle, “26 citations (have been issued) in Houston; 15 were issued to drivers and the rest to the companies.”
San Antonio’s City Council Public Safety Committee is set to meet on May 7 to hear the results of McManus’ and his team’s research and inquiry into how to deal with Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Lyft and Uber.
It’s possible that accommodating ordinances/regulation could be created as the California Public Utilities Commission did in September 2013 – but it’s also possible that they’ll recommend to limit or outlaw rideshare operations.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Uber and Lyft are Greater Houston Transportation Co.; Fiesta Cab Co.; Houston Transportation Services LLC; National Cab Company Inc.; Pasadena Taxi Company Inc.; American Mementum Group LLC; Atlas Limousine LLC; CTI Transportation LLC; Liban Inc.; Avanti International Transportation Ltd.; First Priority Transportation LLC; Lone Star Executive Limousine LLC; Dawit Sahle; Mohamed Samater;Mersha Ayele; Moses A. Tesfay; Melaku Shumie; Abraham Tarkegne; Kidane Ghebreslassie; Mohamed Didi; Champion Cab Co.; Greater San Antonio Transportation Co.; Enterprise Transportation Inc.
*Featured/top image: From left: Lorenzo Gomez III, Julie Campbell, Lyft Launch Director Will Farino, Kara Gomez and Ryan Salts welcome Lyft to Geekdom. Photo courtesy of Geekdom.