WDY blog

Uber, Lyft, Oversight And Traffic Congestion

It may not seem like that big a deal that Uber and Lyft have spent millions on lobbyists to move their regulatory agency from the city to the state level.

Boring or procedural maybe.

Until you realize how this regulatory change enables Uber and Lyft to disrupt local communities without fear of consequence.

A new study by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority estimates that Uber and Lyft account for 15 percent of all vehicle trips in San Francisco.

Fifteen percent of all trips.

San Franciscans—from bicyclists to business leaders—are complaining about intensifying traffic. Despite Uber and Lyft’s obvious-to-everyone impact on SF traffic, city officials can’t get the companies to share their data to somehow begin the process of better quantifying this impact. Or eventually fixing the situation.

Uber and Lyft just won’t do it.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has petitioned San Francisco Superior Court to order Uber and Lyft to “surrender” internal documents. This comes while SF is investigating whether the companies constitute “public nuisances.”

The risk is that Uber and Lyft are dramatically worsening the level of congestion, air quality and quality of life in the city. But San Francisco can’t do anything about it.

SF officials have had to beg, cajole and threaten to get this far. Which is nowhere yet.

This is the real problem with Uber and Lyft spending millions on lobbyists to relocate their regulatory oversight agency from the city to the state level.

The cities and their people bear the brunt, but local leaders are seemingly powerless to manage the ever-increasing cars.


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