This time last year, Uber and Lyft had left San Antonio. At Tech Bloc, we took it upon ourselves to get involved. We approached the problem in three ways:
1) Listen – The ride share companies have a specific approach and process to operate profitably. Our city officials have a responsibility to our citizens for safety. There were numerous other perspectives and every one has value. We began by listening and understanding.
2) Meet – People are always different when you meet in person. Our job was to facilitate a meeting and discussion to find common ground. Face to face, with all the stakeholders, progress was made. Perspectives are like a saltshaker, they look different from top to bottom. In person it’s easier to understand someone else’s perspective.
3) Innovate – The compromise that was reached was about as innovative as they come. Dozens of other major cities around the country have had similar discussions without resolution. We found common ground that led to an innovative solution.
Ride share companies are important to cities like San Antonio for many reasons. These include safety, enhanced livability, reduction in traffic, cost savings, jobs and even infrastructure efficiencies. But one key reason ride share is important to San Antonio is the significance to the tech community. For San Antonio to become a tech hub and grow our jobs base, we must embrace technology companies.
I wanted to thank our Mayor, City Council and ride share leadership for solving a problem together. The issue was a tough one to tackle. Implementing the pilot program was a big step forward. It is clear to us now that it was the right plan at the right time. Since the ride share pilot program launched, we have been pleased with the results. There are four aspects that are especially encouraging for us:
- No incidents – During the trial period, there have been no incidents for either Uber or Lyft. Add to this the safety record for the taxi companies during this time and we should be encouraged that safe transportation options are available to our citizens. The value of this is immeasurable considering the value of a safe dependable ride on demand, especially for those who should not be driving after drinking.
- The “San Antonio Solution” – The “consumer choice” approach that was adopted works and has been recognized as an innovation. Both Uber and Lyft are now considering this for other markets. Not only have we developed a fair approach to resolve a rideshare controversy, we have established San Antonio as a leader in tackling rideshare regulation. Cities around the country and world (and even up I-35!) are looking at us as creative problem solvers. This is great for our community and brand.
3. Open feedback – The overall feedback, especially from independent citizens, was very positive towards the pilot program. The Town Hall meetings were lively and candid. Our leadership has given choice to our residents and their feedback has been overwhelmingly favorable.
4. The Community wins – Our community is benefitting from transportation options unavailable in other cities. We have allowed many folks to participate as drivers for the ride share companies making money to pay bills, save for school or take care of debt. The community ecosystem is flourishing.
We look forward to a favorable vote to make this innovative and successful pilot a permanent solution for our city.