Mayor Seeks Ride-Hailing Location Data To Address Congestion, Safety

To address congestion created by ride-hailing, Mayor Ed Lee is proposing a program to streamline pick-ups and drop-offs and promote traffic safety that would first require companies to share more specific data about where their drivers operate.

Although the idea is in its infancy, it would help the city address issues like double-parked cars, blocked bike lanes and other pain points associated with ride-hailing companies, the Examiner reports.

Mayor Lee’s suggestion that companies like Lyft and Uber share location data with the city demonstrates how large of a role the companies play in the city’s transportation mix. Last year, there were more than 45,000 active Lyft and Uber drivers in San Francisco, according to data from the Treasurer’s Office.

Currently, city officials don’t know how often ride-hail drivers cause traffic collisions or where and when these cars congest streets because their GPS data are safeguarded against perceived competition by the companies themselves, and by the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees them.

Lee reportedly reached out to Lyft leadership last week and is planning to contact Uber this week.

Uber has gone on the record as saying its platform reduces both car use and traffic and that the company provides governments with a heat map that shows where its vehicles operate. However, Lee said he wants more specific data which can be used at the neighborhood or corridor level.

If companies comply, the mayor has a couple of pilot program ideas, including offering driver-training programs and legally permitting ride hail drivers to pick up and drop off riders along painted city curb space, which is currently prohibited.

But if Lyft and Uber continue to withhold information on their drivers’ comings and goings, Lee said he'll have to take another approach.

“I’m not at all afraid of telling the [ride-hails] or Chariots, ‘You’ve got to change your practices,’” he told the Examiner. “And if you don’t, we’re going to hold you accountable.”

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Mayor seeks ride hailing location data to address congestion safety