State may require rideshare companies to own fleet of wheelchair accessible cars

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfbg – excerpt

As cabbies flee the taxi industry to drive for so-called rideshare companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, specially made taxis for the disabled are left sitting idle in their garages.

At a hearing last week, SFMTA Taxi Director Christiane Hayashi said the city is in a disability community transit crisis. But the Guardian has learned that the California Public Utilities Commission is considering requiring rideshare companies to provide their own vehicle fleet for the disabled community.

“We could require these companies to own their own fleet,…a fleet that’s accessible to the disabled community,” Marzia Zafar, the director of policy and planning division at the CPUC, told the Guardian. “We can certainly do that when we have the information, if we see that divide.”

The plan could be implemented as early as September, she said… (more)


“It’s really starting to be a free-for-all out there”: SF Supes Hear Harsh Words At Ridesharing Hearing

by – excerpt

“It’s really starting to be a free-for-all out there”: SF Supes Hear Harsh Words At Ridesharing Hearing

Ridesharing companies that are growing in popularity in San Francisco have had unintended consequences and need to be better regulated, city supervisors were told today at a committee meeting on the issue.

Supervisor Eric Mar called for today’s hearing on businesses like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, which match riders to private cars via GPS-based smartphone apps and are defined by the California Public Utilities Commission as “transportation network companies.”

The companies have drawn increased attention from the city after an Uber driver struck and killed 6-year-old Sofia Liu on Polk Street on New Year’s Eve. They have also been sharply criticized by taxi drivers for operating under looser regulations than those required for cab companies and.

Christiane Hayashi, director of taxis and accessibility services for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said the TNCs require less comprehensive background checks than those for taxi drivers and do not provide cities with the number of cars they have out on the streets.

“It’s really starting to be a free-for-all out there,” Hayashi said. “So many vehicles are competing for business that it’s beginning to get quite dangerous.”… (more)

Public Comment on Uber, etc. at CPUC

By Mark Gruberg – excerpt

Thursday’s meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has on its agenda the approval of a rulemaking proceeding involving Uber, Lyft and SideCar.  This “rulemaking” (as it’s called) is of critical importance, since it will determine whether those services will be legalized, and under what conditions.

The meeting is at 9 a.m. in the auditorium of the CPUC building at 505 Van Ness (McAllister and Van Ness).  Public comment is allowed, but if you want the full 3 minutes of speaking time, you must register in advance.  Otherwise you may only speak for one minute.

You can register in advance of the meeting at the CPUC’s Public Advisor’s Office, but the easiest way to do it is online.  Here’s a link to sign up to speak (courtesy of Barry Korengold):
Click on “You can sign up to speak at a Commission meeting online”, fill in the form, and you’re signed up.
SideCar and Lyft provide service through private drivers using their own non-commercial, uninspected vehicles.  There is no telling what kind of insurance they carry.  Uber uses state-licensed vehicles, but the company itself is unlicensed — and now it is parasitically feeding off the taxi infrastructure to expand its service into city-regulated territory.  These services are accountable to no one.  They pretend they’re not transportation services at all, and deny responsibility for anything that might go wrong.  Is this in the public interest?
It’s really important that we get the message across that these services are unlawfully and unfairly competing with taxis.
– Mark Gruberg

Cabdrivers file class-action lawsuit against Uber ride service

By: Will Reisman : sfexaminer – excerpt

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Uber demanding that the transportation service company stop operating and pay taxi drivers damages for lost wages.
Filed on behalf of cabdrivers Leonid Goncharov and Mohammed Eddine, the suit claims Uber creates unfair business competition by operating without regulation from state and local authorities.
Uber connects drivers with passengers looking for rides by using smartphone technology to locate and dispatch taxis, limousines and town cars.
While taxi drivers must have operating permits issued by The City, Uber employees do not, the suit claims. As a result, Uber is affecting the business of competing cabdrivers.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, state regulator the California Public Utilities Commission issued $20,000 citations for illegal operations to Uber and fellow ride-service companies Lyft and Sidecar. The citation cites a lack of proper insurance and workers’ compensation benefits, as well as a failure to enroll operators in mandatory driving classes. Previously, the CPUC had issued a cease-and-desist order against Uber, which has continued to operate… (more)