By Pilar Arias
San Antonio’s Public Safety Committee considered deregulating taxicabs and limos Tuesday, only to leave the city ordinances in regards to the vehicles for hire as is.
A two and a half hour discussion included public comment from drivers for and against creating a single owner/operator permit and removing the taxicab permit cap, which currently stands at one per every 1,700 residents.
City law requires taxicabs to be owned by a company that has at least seven permits. However, individual taxicab owners can be in cooperatives of seven or more taxicabs. The city ordinance has been in place since the late 1990s, according to a presentation given by San Antonio Police Department Assistant Director Steven Baum.
There are currently 886 active taxicab permits in the city.
“I’d rather do nothing and leave a functioning organization working well, as opposed to doing damage as a government,” District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse said after the unanimous vote to leave two of three portions of the city’s Chapter 33 as is. The Public Safety Committee did agree to remove the Transportation Network Company (TNC) related portions of Chapter 33, because ridesharing companies are now regulated by the state.
Hector Garcia said he was the man leading the effort to allow taxicab drivers to be their own bosses, in hopes of lowering operating costs and giving drivers more flexible schedules.
“I’m going to fight until the end. I’m a warrior. All taxicab companies, most of them are dying,” Garcia said. “We don’t want those companies to carry those drivers that are with them.”
The city’s Transportation Advisory Board was not in favor of changing taxicab regulations.
In terms of limousine companies, the following regulations were left in place:
– Stretch limo required
– Minimum hourly rate of $67.50
– Must be prearranged one hour in advance
“As the industry is growing, as the city grows and as technology grows, this is always going to be a problem,” Brockhouse said. During the meeting he suggested taxicab drivers not turn against each other, but rather figure out how to compete with ridesharing companies.