San Francisco just upped the stakes to legally wrangle driver data from Uber and Lyft.
The City Attorney’s Office Friday morning filed a court order in San Francisco Superior Court to compel Uber and Lyft to comply with subpoenas filed against the companies early last month.
Those administrative subpoenas, filed on June 5, would require the ride-hail companies to hand over four years of records, including miles and hours logged by drivers, incentives that encourage drivers to travel to San Francisco from far-flung cities like Los Angeles, driver guidance and training, accessible vehicle information and driver routes within San Francisco.
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”Both Uber and Lyft were given ample opportunity to follow the law,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. “They chose not to, so now we’re in court.”
That data has long been sought by San Francisco transit officials, including San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director of Transit Ed Reiskin.
Reiskin, The City’s top-transit official, told the San Francisco Examiner previously that he was “frustrated” by the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates ride-hail companies and would not disclose the driving data it possesses to San Francisco despite 26 legal attempts to request it.
The concern is over the more than 5,000 daily ride-hail vehicles roaming San Francisco streets and their impact on traffic and safety, a number only obtained by data-scraping efforts by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Still, much of Uber’s and Lyft’s data is under lock and key.
“There’s no question that Uber and Lyft offer convenience,” Herrera said. “But convenience for some cannot trump the rights of every San Francisco resident and visitor, including the safe enjoyment of our roads and bike lanes.”
After Herrera’s office issued the subpoenas, Lyft contacted the City Attorney’s Office, the company said in a statement, and worked with The City to try to craft a confidentiality agreement that complies with the subpoena and with public records law, while also protecting trade secrets from public disclosure.
The City Attorney’s Office said Lyft ultimately was unwilling to move forward with an agreement, “demanding unreasonable provisions.”
Though Lyft’s effort to reach out fizzled, by contrast, Uber has dragged its feet.
Uber objected to the subpoenas and refused to produce documents, according to the City Attorney’s Office, and sent a letter to The City stating the company declined to produce the information but would be available to “meet and confer regarding Uber’s concerns.”
The City Attorney’s Office said Uber representatives were “slow to meet, late to respond and then non-committal.”
“Uber was stalling,” Herrera said.