San Francisco has issued subpoenas to Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc, claiming the ride-services firms fail to adequately serve poor neighborhoods and the disabled and their double-parked cars clog city traffic.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera said on Monday he was seeking a large scope of records from the companies, including hours and miles logged by drivers, traffic infractions, access for disabled passengers and whether certain neighborhoods are underserved.
San Francisco and Uber are already engaged in a fight over the city's demands for drivers' names and addresses, and come at a time when Uber is beset by a host of other legal problems.
Herrera said the subpoenas sought four years of records from the companies, which are based in San Francisco and have an estimated 45,000 total drivers in the city.
"No one disputes the convenience of the ride-hailing industry, but that convenience evaporates when you're stuck in traffic behind a double-parked Uber or Lyft, or when you can't get a ride because the vehicle isn't accessible to someone with a disability or because the algorithm disfavors the neighborhood where you live," Herrera said.
The city is taking the unusual approach of investigating whether Uber and Lyft are a public nuisance. An influx of cars driving for the two companies often clog San Francisco streets and block bicycle lanes and double-park while they wait for passengers, according to the city.
Such concerns reflect how large the two companies have grown in their hometown.
Herrera said the "long-distance" Uber and Lyft drivers travel hours from the Central Valley and other small communities to find rides in San Francisco and are a potential "threat" to public safety. They are on the road for such long shifts that they become drowsy, making the streets unsafe, according to Herrera.
Herrera also requested four years' of documents and data submitted by Uber and Lyft to the California Public Utilities Commission, the state agency that regulates ride-services companies. Previously, the CPUC declined to release the documents, saying that they amounted to trade secrets.
Uber, Lyft and the CPUC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Herrera sued Uber last month to compel the company to comply with a subpoena for drivers' names and addresses. Uber has called the city's demands an invasion of driver privacy.
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