SACRAMENTO—San Francisco’s city attorney on Monday stepped up his scrutiny of ride-hailing operations, issuing administrative subpoenas to Lyft Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. for records on driver practices and the services the companies offer to disabled riders.
Dennis Herrera also asked the Public Utilities Commission, the agency that oversees ride-hailing businesses in California, for data on how ride-hailing companies affect traffic, cyclist and pedestrian safety, pollution and parking.
The convenience of ride-hailing “evaporates when you’re stuck in traffic behind a double-parked Uber or Lyft, or when you can’t get a ride because the vehicle isn’t accessible to someone with a disability or because the algorithm disfavors the neighborhood where you live,” Herrera said in a prepared statement. “The status quo is not working.”
A Lyft spokeswoman, Chelsea Harrison, said the company was reviewing the subpoena, which was delivered to the company’s legal department. Harrison said nearly 30 percent of rides in San Francisco take place in “underserved neighborhoods” and 20 percent begin or end at a public transit station.
“Lyft has always been focused on improving transportation access for people across all cities in which we operate,” Harrison said.
Representatives of Uber and the PUC did not return messages seeking comment Monday.
Although Uber and Lyft have headquarters in San Francisco, city officials have not shied away from challenging the companies’ business practices.
Uber has been a particular target. Last year, Uber agreed to pay up to $25 million to settle litigation brought by San Francisco and Los Angeles for making misleading claims about its driver background checks. (Lyft settled the suit in 2014 for $500,000.) Last month, Herrera sued Uber for refusing to provide information showing whether its drivers are complying with San Francisco’s business and tax regulations. A hearing is scheduled for later this month in San Francisco Superior Court.
Nearly 45,000 vehicles drive in San Francisco under the Uber and Lyft logos, according to the city attorney’s office.
The rise of ride-hailing companies has boosted concerns about congestion in major cities. New York transportation regulators are reportedly looking at that impact.
Ed Reiskin, director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said officials need the subpoenaed data to understand the effects that many drivers are having on the city.
“We are hearing a growing number of complaints from residents, businesses, and our own traffic enforcement staff and Muni operators about the behavior of these drivers and the congestion and pollution caused by the sheer volume of these vehicles on our city’s streets,” Reiskin said in a prepared statement.
The Public Utilities Commission does collect data from Uber and Lyft on services they provide, such as how often a disabled rider can connect with an accessible vehicle and whether residents in some neighborhoods can find rides more easily than those living elsewhere. The agency fined Uber $7.6 million and held the company last year in contempt for failing to turn over that data by a PUC-set deadline.
The commission has not provided the public with the companies’ information, despite San Francisco officials’ “long-standing request that it do so,” Herrera said.