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Editor’s note: Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff sent an open letter to Mayor Ivy Taylor and all 10 City Council members on Monday. The letter comes just days after the rideshare service, Uber, has announced plans to leave San Antonio if an ordinance, which critics call a “barrier to business” and is supported by the traditional taxi industry, is not repealed or modified to be more rideshare friendly. Uber’s main competitor, Lyft, will likely do the same. Read more on the Rivard Report here.
Dear Mayor Taylor,
Thank you for meeting with me this morning regarding Uber and Lyft. I appreciate the fact that you are willing to consider reaching a compromise.
As you know, I previously supported welcoming Uber and Lyft to San Antonio and envisioned an ordinance that is similar to Austin or Dallas where they currently operate with no issue. Unfortunately, it appears we have enacted an ordinance that is quite different from other Texas cities and one that Uber and Lyft cannot operate under.
Last week I met with Henry Carr, General Manager of Uber San Antonio, and I will relay to him your concern that they have not stated clearly what their position is on an ordinance.
I have three principal concerns about Uber and Lyft terminating service in our community. First and foremost, I am concerned about the high number of DWI cases Bexar County faces and the fact that many of these incidents might not occur if our citizens had access to an easier and inexpensive transportation alternative, such as Uber and Lyft. With 8,519 DWI charges in Bexar County in 2014; all public officials should prioritize reducing the number of DWIs in Bexar County for both safety and fiscal reasons.
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Second, I am concerned about the 400,000 citizens in unincorporated Bexar County and the thousands of citizens in the other 26 suburban cities. These are my constituents, and they deserve the transportation option and economic opportunities that Uber and Lyft provide.
Third, we both have made significant investments in attracting Millennials and young professionals to our City and County. Since transportation alternatives, such as Uber and Lyft, are a major issue for them, it would be viewed as a negative mark on our City to not have these services available. I join Graham Weston, the developers of the urban core, and the many other business leaders that believe this transportation option is key to attracting young citizens to our City.
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I strongly encourage the City of San Antonio to work with Uber and Lyft to develop an ordinance that is both safe and fair. Austin and Dallas provide models to emulate in the interim period, giving time for the City to evaluate final regulations that reflect the evolving nature of this technology-based transportation option. Let’s work together to find an option that allows Uber and Lyft to operate in San Antonio and Bexar County.
Nelson W. Wolff
*Featured/top image: Rideshare advocates (right) and taxi industry defenders (left) chant opposing slogans in front of City Council Chambers before City Council approved the rideshare ordinance in December 2014. Photo by Iris Dimmick.