San Antonio’s mayor and City Council will once again take up the issue of rideshare regulation on Thursday. We – the CEOs of Rackspace, Broadway Bank, Nustar Energy, CST Brands, Frost Bank, Argo Group, and Santikos Theatres and the chairman emeritus of AT&T – strongly encourage the council to join the more than 200 communities in America who have drafted regulations that meet the safety needs of their communities while meeting the needs of rideshare companies Uber and Lyft and their customers. We have countless models across the country to follow. A resolution is on the table and now is the time to get it done. Our businesses and the city need rideshare to compete as the 21st century unfolds.
Our companies — and our city — are in a war for talent. The simple truth is San Antonio is behind in providing many of the urban elements expected by the next generation of talent. We have work to do on our general livability and cultural attractions. But, the absence of Uber and Lyft, while new to most, is inexplicable to this generation of talent. They have come to rely on it and view it as an essential service of any city. We need to get past this issue and start tackling the bigger, harder challenges.
The lack of rideshare in San Antonio hurts our businesses and city in multiple ways. First, our current employees rely on these services in all sorts of ways that go way beyond the traditional concept of the taxi. Whether forgoing a rental while their car is in the shop or skipping parking at the Spurs game or making Saturday night safe for everyone, users have made Uber and Lyft part of life in our community when they were operating here. These new services change how their users think about transportation and will open up whole new models of car ownership and citizen mobility.
Second, rideshare has an impact on those we hope to win over to our companies. Whether it is a recruit coming to town or a partner we hope to attract to do business in our city, we constantly hear how frustrating it is to be here without these service. And, don’t think this is just confined to the recruits and partners of tech companies like Rackspace. All of us feel it. In fact, it was just reported that Uber alone now exceeds taxi use nationwide for business travelers. It is no fun to start these important meetings with apologies about how hard it was to get to us.
Finally, not having rideshare available in San Antonio sends an unfortunate message about the trajectory of our city. Communities across the U.S. realize that rideshare brings reduced DUIs and traffic deaths along with new employment opportunities for their citizens. The benefits to our city for this type of technology are tremendous and sustaining. Embracing them signals our willingness to lean in to innovation and embrace new disruptive ways of building and growing our city.
Uber and Lyft are not perfect companies and they need some oversight. But, over 200 cities, including all the other cities in Bexar County, have embraced these services and had successful results. Last year in San Antonio, Uber and Lyft were delivering almost 15,000 rides a week — without one 911 complaint. We applaud the Mayor Ivy Taylor and City Council’s work over the past few months to get Uber and Lyft to agree to revised operating agreements. We encourage the city council to embrace these modifications and get these valuable services back online to benefit both the citizens and our overall economy.
*Featured/top image: San Antonio’s downtown skyline, looking southeast from the top of the Weston Centre. Photo by Kara Gomez.