San Francisco city authorities are beginning to push for sweeping changes to the ridesharing industry that would affect not just Uber and Lyft, but any similar entity operating within the city. Some of those proposed changes include implementing a 20 cent fee for each ride that would pay back into public services, including roads, for the city, as well as requiring business licenses for drivers. Regulatory issues have not been the only trouble that the city has had with ridesharing services. Mayor Ed Lee, for example, has stated that city authorities are receiving far more reports of inconvenient or unlawful behaviors by drivers than he would prefer. City supervisor Jane Kim shares the mayor’s sentiment.
This news ties into a previous subpoena for company records from Uber and Lyft that was filed by the city’s attorney, Dennis Herrera. Herrera wants to look over the information to see whether the two companies are complying with applicable transportation and business laws. The company had also been forced to take its self-driving fleet off of San Francisco’s roads at one point, though the city eventually allowed the autonomous test vehicles to return. Lyft, on the other hand, has not faced much trouble from the city authorities, beyond being subpoenaed for records under the same pretenses as Uber. Still, the city’s issues affect ridesharing as an industry, and Lyft is the second largest player.
While Lyft is under relatively little stress and is working with Waymo on self-driving technology, this extra pressure from the city of San Francisco comes at a tumultuous time for Uber. The CEO, Travis Kalanick, has taken a leave of absence from the company, and the senior vice president, Emil Michael, has left the company entirely. Issues with the company culture that have apparently been present for some time recently came to light and proved quite problematic in doing so, sparking an investigation and list of suggestions from US Attorney General Eric Holder. Meanwhile, Uber is locked in an ongoing legal battle with Waymo over trade secrets concerning self-driving technology. That battle has cost them key engineer and former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowsky, who has been barred from working on Lidar technology in the future no matter who his employer is.