Study: Lyft And Uber Rides Concentrated In SoMa, Downtown

According to a new report released today by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), ride-hail vehicles make more than 170,000 trips per average weekday within the city, 12 times the number of traditional taxi trips.

Rides were concentrated in downtown and SoMa, which had 20-26% of car trips during peak times. By comparison, less densely populated areas in the southern and western parts of the city only comprised of 2-4% of the total . 

The report, “TNCs Today: A Profile of San Francisco Transportation Network Company Activity," is the first comprehensive study to estimate the volume, frequency and coverage of intra-city ride-hail trips from the transit network companies (TNCs). 

The study found that Uber and Lyft had more than 5,700 vehicles operating on city streets during peak periods. On Fridays, the number of cars ballooned to 6,500. 

While the total number of ride-hail vehicles authorized to operate on city streets wasn't addressed in the study, last year, the San Francisco Examiner reported that nearly 45,000 individuals were considered active Uber or Lyft drivers based on information from the SF Treasurer's office. 

Lyft on Clarion Alley. | Photo: Karlis D./Flickr

Some San Francisco city officials have welcomed the study, arguing that without proper data, it's difficult to address concerns that some residents have about the proliferation of ride-hail cars on city streets.

While the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is charged with regulating TNCs and requires Uber and Lyft to supply regular trip data, the CPUC, Uber and Lyft have so far declined to hand that information over to San Francisco. 

“The data in this report confirms the widespread public perception that TNCs comprise a significant share of traffic on our city streets,” District 3 Supervisor and Chair of SFCTA Aaron Peskin said in a statement. “As a Transit First City, we have to evaluate the impact these gig economy vehicles are having on our public transit and our already congested streets."

District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim has been calling for tougher regulations and has voiced her concerns on the impact of the number of ride-hail vehicles. Most recently, she has suggested ride-hail companies pay a fee per trip to help further study their impact on San Francisco streets. 

Photo: Torbakhopper/Flickr

“Ride-sharing companies are logging more than a half million vehicle miles on our streets every day," Kim said in a statement. "This is having an effect on our quality of life as well as creating serious public safety concerns—no one wants the ambulance that might save their life to be stuck in a traffic jam.” 

After the release of the report, an Uber spokesperson responded by saying the company is willing to work with the city to "update its infrastructure to reflect its transportation goals."

“I welcome Uber’s statement that they want to work with the city to alleviate these problems," said Kim in a statement. "I urge them to act now by reaching a voluntary agreement to pay per ride fees that can be used to upgrade our infrastructure, invest in transit and reduce congestion."

According to the SFCTA, future studies will continue to be conducted to assess policies, best practices, and citywide goals on safety, ridership, and congestion. 

We've reached out to both Uber and Lyft for comment, and will update this article if they respond.

Want to take a look at how TNCs affect your neighborhood? Check out this interactive map, courtesy of the SFCTA. 

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Study lyft and uber rides concentrated in soma downtown