San Francisco's mayor demands data from Uber and Lyft to help cut traffic jams

Key Points
  • San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee says he will hold Uber and Lyft 'accountable' for traffic congestion
  • City is asking for more info, could force companies to change where they pick up
  • The city was flooded with 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers in 2016 and now has some of the worst traffic in the world
A Lyft customer gets into a car on January 21, 2014 in San Francisco.
Getty Images

Add San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to the growing list of people who want more information about how Uber and Lyft run their businesses.

After years of pursuing a mostly hands-off regulatory policy toward the two ride-service companies -- both based in the city -- the mayor is now considering pressuring them to change some of their practices.

For starters, he's asking them for details on when and where their drivers pick up passengers in the city. Lee says he wants to use the data in an effort to try and reduce congestion, which in the last few years has made traffic here among the worst in the world.

"I'm not at all afraid of telling (the ride services) 'You've got to change your practices,'" he told the San Francisco Examiner. "And if you don't, we're going to hold you accountable."

The effort could include restricting passenger pickups and drop-offs to specific streets and corridors.

Lee's tougher stance comes a week after the San Francisco City Attorney's Office said it sued Uber to force it to share driver information.

Uber also faces a criminal investigation from the U.S. Department of Justice for its practice of using software to evade public officials in Portland, Oregon, and other cities attempting to regulate it.

Getting more info out of either Lyft or Uber won't be easy, however.

The two companies closely guard their driver data as trade secrets, sharing it only with the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the state's taxi industry.

Last year, data compiled by the city's Treasurer's Office showed there were 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers operating in the city.

In a statement, Lyft said looks forward to further discussions with the mayor's office. Uber did not immediately respond.

Read the full report from the San Francisco Examiner here.