Aug 18, 2023 - Transit

San Francisco city officials want to halt robotaxi expansion

A Waymo autonomous vehicle in San Francisco. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

San Francisco city officials want the state regulatory agency that approved Waymo and Cruise's expansion in the city to reconsider its decision.

Why it matters: Both Cruise and Waymo's operations have been the subject of controversy, as they've disrupted traffic, interfered with emergency vehicles or have just gotten stuck.

Driving the news: Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission granted permits to allow both Cruise and Waymo to charge for rides around the clock throughout San Francisco.

  • Now, San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin plans to appeal the decision within the coming days, he told Axios on Wednesday.
  • Meanwhile, on Wednesday, San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu filed motions with the CPUC asking it to temporarily suspend those latest permits until the city submits an official request for a rehearing, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

What they're saying: "The ideal outcome is that they adopt the sensible, reasonable conditions that we were requesting," Peskin said. "For an incremental expansion approach based on meeting performance benchmarks that proves that they have made progress on addressing the safety concerns that we've been experiencing."

  • The city also wants more transparency from Cruise and Waymo around immobilized cars in the city.

By the numbers: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) reported nearly 600 known incidents involving driverless vehicles in San Francisco since June 2022.

  • These incidents include a variety of driving behaviors, like stopping unexpectedly, collisions and more.

The other side: Cruise spokesperson Drew Pusateri said in a statement to The Chronicle that the CPUC's decision had input from a variety of groups and that it's "unfortunate to see the city use public resources to bypass that decision and restrict a technology with an excellent safety record used by tens of thousands of San Francisco residents."

  • Waymo declined to comment for this story and the CPUC wasn't immediately available for comment.

What to watch: If the CPUC denies the city's request for a re-hearing, San Francisco could file litigation in court, but that's not something officials have decided on yet, Peskin said.


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