Photo By Siana Hristova/The ChronicleRide-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are growing in popularity across the country, as people use the apps to line up rides.SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio City Council members have been put on notice — if they don’t wholly repeal, or significantly relax regulations for transportation-network companies, Uber will shut down operations here on March 1.
Chris Nakutis, Uber’s general manager for Texas, wrote a letter Wednesday to Council woman Rebecca Viagran, chairwoman of the council’s Public Safety Committee, informing her and the entire council that the technology firm has comprehensively reviewed San Antonio’s ordinance and cannot work within it.
“We have spent the past month examining how these pending regulations will impact our ability to do business in San Antonio when they are implemented on March 1. After much consideration, it is clear that these regulations will cripple Uber’s ability to serve drivers and riders in San Antonio,” Nakutis wrote. “A vote in support of these regulations was a vote against ride-sharing, and if the rules remain unchanged, Uber will have no choice but to leave San Antonio.”
Neither Viagran nor Mayor Ivy Taylor immediately returned calls seeking comment.
The council adopted an ordinance in December that is set to take effect March 1. Critics have deemed it far too restrictive and innovation-stifling, while some council members who oppose the regulations have said those rules are significant obstacles to new competition in the marketplace masquerading as public-safety protections.
Nakutis said San Antonio’s ordinance is “anti-innovation” and “one of the worst (ordinances) in the nation.” The requirements for drivers, the need to share certain data with the city and over-burdensome insurance requirements are major issues that would need to be completely overhauled, he said.
“I’ve heard the City Council say they welcome ride-sharing and innovation, but this ordinance says the opposite,” he said.
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