Yellow Cab of San Antonio, Inc. says it will continue to fight the operations of the ‘ride sharing’ services ‘Lyft’ and ‘Uber’ in San Antonio, despite a federal court decision against issuing an order declaring the firms to be a ‘continuing criminal enterprise’ and blocking their operations, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Yellow Cab President John Bouloubasis, who filed the lawsuit to block the firms, says they violate city tax ordinances, and that is black letter law that must be obeyed. He says there is no middle ground.
“We are not going to create a special session to them and bow down to them because they think they have something new,” Bouloubasis said. “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.”
The cab industry says the ‘ride sharing’ firms skirt established city laws by failing to pay fees to the city, not having the vehicles they used inspected and certified, by not vetting who is at the wheel of those vehicles, and, most importantly, by only picking up and transporting people who have a smart phone and a debit card. Cabbies say that is discriminatory and racist, and say the fact that Lyft vehicles don’t generally have wheelchair systems violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The cabbies say the companies threaten to skim off the easiest and most lucrative customers from their routes, leaving them with less financially profitable customers.
“We can make example after example that other industries have rules and regulations, and you have to follow those rules and regulations to enter them,” he said.
Cabbies claimed that Lyft and Uber coming into San Antonio and presuming to transport passengers like a taxi company would be like somebody coming in from another city with a box full of badges and ‘designating’ people to be San Antonio Police Officers, without any training, background check, or other diligence done.
But the firms have big time and deep pocketed supporter. Rackspace co-founder Graham Weston is heading a petition drive on the web site ‘change.org’ urging City Council to allow the firms to operate freely and openly in the city. Supporters say the younger, downtown-living tech workers who the firms cater to are the heart of the ‘brainpower economy’ that the city has successfully fought to acquire, and not being open to ‘new solutions’ will damage that industry.
Police Chief William McManus has also issued a ‘cease and desist order’ agaisnt the firms, and warned that their drivers may be arrested.
Lyft calls itself ‘your friend with a car,’ and operated on the principle of being similar to somebody taking a friend to the store and then collecting for gas money. Drivers use their own vehicles and customers don’t pay fares but make ‘donations’ to pay for the service.