Adler speaks on ride-hailing, taco rivalry at Tejas Club

Albert Zhao

A tradition of frank disclosures at Tejas Club, such as when Coach Tom Herman revealed his admiration for Justin Bieber’s singing, continued Thursday to include Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s disdain for San Antonio breakfast tacos.

“We’re at war with San Antonio,” Adler said.

In addition to the breakfast taco rivalry, Adler addressed residual discontent about ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft leaving Austin to students in the Tejas House living room.

Adler said he did not want Uber and Lyft to leave and tried to cooperate as much as possible with their demands, decreasing fingerprint costs per driver from $150 to $35 and having the scanners personally visit drivers to document them.

“Uber and Lyft said no, and not only did they say no, they said, ‘We don’t even want to discuss it with you,’” Adler said. “I said, ‘Don’t do that, keep talking to me.’”

Uber and Lyft left Austin almost a year ago not because the city was beholden to the taxi lobbyists, but because they failed to innovate along with the city, Adler said. He said he maintains great faith in Austin’s ability to innovate and offered an example of one idea no other city has tried: creating voluntary IDs that would increase the safety of people in the sharing economy.

“You go on Airbnb and you decided to rent a sofa in someone’s living room,” Adler said. “Wouldn’t it be nice to know they’re not an axe murderer in your living room?”

Tejas President McKay Proctor said Adler is special in that he accommodates both Austin’s business environment and its residents.

“He has done a really good job of balancing the corporate and civic interests of the city,” said Proctor, an English and supply chain management senior. “He sort of understands that Austin as a business environment and Austin as a living environment don’t have to be in tension all the time.”

Although she is not very familiar with Austin’s politics, Selby Olson, biology and anthropology sophomore, said she is impressed with Adler’s willingness to take time to meet students.

“Him coming to meet with students just to hear what we have to ask him, answer our questions … it’s a really good thing that he’s taking time to talk to students,” Olson said.