|Photo courtesy of @MrGaryCooper|
Thank you, Public Safety Committee, for listening to our concerns today.
My name is Thea Setterbo and I’m not from here. I’m the young professional the city and organizations like the 80/20 Foundation, SA2020 and LOOP San Antonio are working so hard to attract and retain. After graduating from Texas State University, I saw moving here as a pit stop on my way to Austin. Three years later, I know San Antonio is my forever home.
The reason I stay here is because we are a city on the rise. In Austin and New York and Los Angeles, you can walk onto the street and be in the middle of something cool that was there before you moved in. In San Antonio, you have the ability to throw a rock a watch the ripples grow, transforming our landscape with like-minded, forward-thinking people.
We need the innovation of companies like Lyft and Uber to keep the young professional demographic interested in San Antonio’s propensity for change.
Michael, Lakysha, Jacob and Kevin provided safe and pleasant rides to and from several destinations the weekend of March 21, when Lyft officially took off in San Antonio.
Each driver was more than willing to answer my questions about the application process, liability insurance and background checks required for employment with the company. To be completely honest, as a young, single female traveling alone, I have never felt safe in a taxi in any city. Driving up 281 on my way to work every morning can prove to anyone that city regulations don’t prevent vehicles-for-hire from speeding or driving dangerously.
With an influx of people due to flood downtown this month for the world-renown Fiesta celebration, having convenient, alternative transportation options is incredibly important to the livelihood and safety of our residents.
April is historically the most dangerous month on the road in our area. The launch of both Lyft and Uber marked a new triumph for the city in its fight against drunk and impaired driving, a costly act that saw more than 25,000 alcohol-related car accidents in Texas last year.
I hope the City of San Antonio, San Antonio Police Department and Department of Transportation can reexamine the existing city ordinance that prohibits safe, reliable, donation-based transportation companies from operating. A great compromise in advance of Fiesta would be to allow both Lyft and Uber to operate on a probationary status while they provide free rides to “pioneer users” and the city reviews the ordinance.
Google Ventures recently invested more than $250 million into Uber, the ridesharing service that launched in San Antonio last weekend. The San Antonio City Council just approved a contract with Google last month to be considered as a market for Google Fiber, the high-speed, fiber-optic network that will inevitably bring San Antonio to the top of major tech lists. How can we expect Google Fiber to select us if we are going to shut out one of their most lauded investments?
If ridesharing can function safely and effectively alongside taxi companies in cities like Washington D.C., Seattle, Chicago and L.A., it can do so in San Antonio. We already join those cities on top lists for amazing technology, food and job growth. As a young professional with a vested interest in this city’s success, it is my hope that our leadership will pave the way for San Antonio to be recognized as a top city for startups, entrepreneurship and innovation. Allowing companies like Lyft and Uber to fully operate can be the first stepping stone in that direction.