By Ethan Baron The Mercury News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The San Francisco city attorney has obtained subpoenas to compel Uber and Lyft to produce records detailing miles and hours logged by drivers. At issue are questions that include whether the companies offer incentives encouraging drivers to commute long distances before starting shifts of up to 16 hours, potentially becoming so tired they endanger the public.
Lyft good, Uber bad.
So says San Francisco's city attorney, who's accusing Uber of getting up to its old tricks amid a probe into the San Francisco operations of the two ride-hailing firms headquartered in the city.
"For a company that is supposedly changing its culture, thumbing your nose at the law is a funny way of showing that you're now a good corporate citizen," city attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement Wednesday.
Uber on Wednesday disputed Herrera's characterization of its actions, saying it cooperates with regulators to comply with the law.
Herrera launched his public attack after purported stonewalling by Uber as the city attorney's office seeks company data going back to 2013 for an investigation into whether Uber and Lyft have been obeying state and local laws.
At issue are questions that include whether the companies offer incentives encouraging drivers to commute long distances before starting shifts of up to 16 hours, potentially becoming so tired they endanger the public; whether double parking by ride-hail drivers is causing traffic troubles; whether some vehicles are inaccessible to people with disabilities; whether the sheer number of drivers' vehicles is adding to pollution; whether drivers are behaving badly on the roads; and whether company algorithms "disfavor" certain neighborhoods, Herrera's office said in June.
To get to the bottom of it all, the city attorney obtained subpoenas to compel Uber and Lyft to produce records detailing "miles and hours logged by drivers, incentives that encourage drivers to 'commute' to San Francisco from the Central Valley and Los Angeles, driver guidance and training, accessible vehicle information, and the routes taken by these drivers in San Francisco," Herrera's office said Wednesday.
While Lyft initially resisted allowing some of its records to be examined by experts from city government outside the attorney's office, it has now agreed to permit that, Herrera said.
"This is a reasonable agreement that preserves Lyft's trade secrets while advancing our investigation into whether these companies violated the rights of ordinary San Franciscans," Herrera said.
"The new agreement gives relevant experts in areas like traffic safety and law enforcement access to that data." Herrera applauded Lyft for "being sensible" and "ultimately doing the right thing." But he offered choice words for Uber, a company that suffered a series of scandals leading to the ouster of Travis Kalanick as CEO and his replacement by former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who has said the company would operate by the mantra of, "We do the right thing. Period."
Uber, Herrera alleged, has not been doing the right thing.
"Uber has fought us at every turn, but the law is on our side. Uber should follow Lyft's lead _ and the law." Uber, like Lyft, had challenged Herrera's subpoenas in court.
"After fighting every step of the way in and out of court, Uber has produced very few documents, and very little data, in response to any of the eight categories in the City's subpoenas," Herrera claimed.
"It has refused to disclose its annual reports to the (California Public Utilities Commission), or any of the contents thereof. A San Francisco Superior Court judge ordered Uber to turn over that information to the City, but Uber appealed."
Uber said it shares all required data with regulators in California, to ensure its compliance with the law.
"We will continue working with the City of San Francisco on a pilot project to share Uber trip data," an Uber spokesperson said.
The company this week announced it would require its most frequent drivers to take six-hour breaks after driving for 12 hours and that the company's app would give drivers warnings as they approached the 12 hour limit.