SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— UberX, Lyft and Side Car are all on notice now that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors are looking at ways to clamp down on the ride sharing companies.
The head of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) said at one time that this was an industry that grew out of the inability of public transit and cabs to serve the people.
It’s been an interesting issue to watch inside San Francisco and for others as well. It brings on the debate of whether or not private companies should be allowed to fill the void when government-regulated services aren’t up to standard or simply aren’t working well enough for people to use them.
In this instance, we have a tech-driven alternative, which is always fuel for an already hot-button issue, in the city.
The taxi cabs have been criticized as being inefficient and for only serving tourists downtown. They weren’t entering neighborhoods like the Sunset District at night and you simply couldn’t find a cab: Enter the ride share services.
The car services started out pretty informally, but smartphones have made them pretty sophisticated operations. Part of the problem is they’re giving the regulated taxi cab companies not only a run for their money, but cabbies are saying they could be driven out of business.
San Francisco’s Supervisors held a committee hearing Thursday night and pondered whether or not the companies should be regulated by the city or state and what types of impacts that would make.
Supervisor John Avalos expressed his frustration with the city’s inability to do much of anything.
“We don’t have jurisdiction, but I think we’ve gotten to almost a crisis mode where we actually do have to discuss how we can weigh in,” he said.
Supervisor Mar called it the “Wild West” and was working on a resolution urging the CPUC to level the playing field for cab drivers struggling to keep up with the competition.
The State has been in charge of regulation and has been for six months. The California Public Utilities Commission defines these companies as Transportation Network Companies. The CPUC has already adopted its own regulations for the companies, which includes; driver background checks, car inspections and a $1 million-per-incident insurance policy for drivers using their own vehicles to transport passengers.
The insurance issue is very important when one considers when the driver is ‘on duty’ and when they’re not. You probably recall the death in the Tenderloin on New Year’s when an Uber driver ran over a 6-year-old girl, but the driver did not have a passenger in his car at the time.
Other issues discussed were the rates that the ride shares are charging as well as whether or not they’re providing services for the disabled like cabs do.