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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

San Francisco blaming Ridesharing for Traffic Problem

San Francisco is pointing the finger at ridesharing drivers for creating congestion in their city. There are a wide range of factors causing SF to turn into a parking garage. Ridesharing services are not solely to blame for backing up roads and blocking overall flow. For the most part, the traffic problem is much larger than car service drivers moving people around in a busy city.

Well before ridesharing launched in San Francisco, the ride community struggled to move around this sanctuary city. Most people relied on public transportation to reach work, go to airports, attend conventions, and travel between bars and restaurants. During these dark years, passengers never thought of convenience and quality service. On the flip side, taxis focused on completing a high number of trips to cover overhead costs. It's definitely expensive and tiring to work as a taxi driver. 

Another mode of travel within the city and between outside regions: BART. This train service operates under strict hours, complicating daily travel plans for those dependent on train services throughout the Bay Area. Moreover, munis and buses involved in accidents delay travel and disrupt travel schedules. Those people who rely on these transportation services are left in the dark on the status of their ride. People can't accept constant delays because their lives depend on timely service. For the most part, ridesharing services compensate for mishaps that ground SF city services.

It's no secret that BART employees have gone on strike numerous times. When these strikes happen, the traffic problem in San Francisco worsens. BART drivers make a bundle operating this Bay Area transit service. Ridesharing services make peanuts providing a popular service.

After expenses and commission, most ridesharing drivers make less than minimum wage workers. If we compare city transportation employees versus ridesharing service drivers, it's obvious who makes more and who makes less money. Who is being put down and who is being praised? Ridesharing drivers get a bad wrap for being available 24 hours a day. We can't rely on BART to transport people. They're unavailable during early Sunday hours. This is mainly the reason people choose ridesharing services to take early airport flights.    

Taxis developed a bad reputation with their passengers. On so many occasions, taxi drivers refused to drive passengers into the Sunset and Richmond districts. Furthermore, these taxi drivers yelled at passengers who desired to pay using a credit card. They even threatened passengers. Because there were limited car services available, cab drivers could push back passengers and not receive any punishment modeling this poor treatment.

We hear our passengers tell their taxi stories often. There's no reason for these riders to tell white lies. The taxi industry deserved their fate; they put so many of their passengers in tight positions. Fortunately, ridesharing drivers are accountable for their actions under a star rating and feedback system. Ride app services and the ride community are now pushing back against the taxi industry.

San Francisco recently criticized ridesharing drivers. They blame these app ride services for congestion within their city. They hide the real truth about their traffic congestion. Bad roads, construction, no left turns on Mission and Market, (only taxis and buses), one-way streets, designated red lanes (taxis and buses), no left between 7am-7pm and on some streets block these turns during commute times, limited parking, jaywalkers, bicycles, tourism, high number of daily workers commuting into city, sports games, concerts, conventions, and many additional factors block smooth flow. If SF wants to blame Uber and Lyft, they should also consider delivery drivers that must also double park to make pickups and deliveries.

It's a nightmare to locate ample parking in SF. When delivery drivers double-park, they face San Francisco Parking Enforcement officers issuing them citations. If SF would make additional loading zones available, this could resolve part of the traffic problem. However, SF would probably lose out on ticket revenue. They would refrain from compromising this revenue stream.

How can San Francisco resolve their traffic nightmare? They need to improve their road conditions. Deep potholes slow down traffic because drivers weave around these disastrous holes. Allow ridesharing drivers to make left turns like taxis and buses. Stop blocking access to parking, where there are "No Parking" or we'll tow you labels in perfect good spots. This action restricts parking spaces, forcing many drivers to double-park on busy streets. Give ridesharing drivers access to red lanes (only taxis and buses permitted). Nevertheless, jay-walkers walk out in heavy traffic and across crosswalks while lights are green. Police officers must issue citations to reduce jaywalking. Opening left turns on Mission and on Lombard Street could improve the flow of traffic. Performing road improvement at night would reduce traffic condition on busy streets such as Divisadero and Lombard. Lastly, timing lights better on busy streets, especially at night, could move traffic.

Horrible traffic conditions in San Francisco exist for many reasons beyond ridesharing services. Thankfully, the ride community now have access to reliable transportation services that won't let them down. San Francisco is also requiring all ridesharing drivers who work more than 7 days a year to obtain a business permit. The city waited until California courts designated drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, which Uber gladly agreed to pay out a hefty sum to settle this debate once and for all. It's a huge victory for Uber; however, drivers are losing out with having to pay for business permits. San Jose Airport is also requiring drivers to obtain business permits, as well.

San Francisco can't have their cake and eat it, too. Do you want millions in annual revenue from business permits? Or do you prefer to keep spreading fake news about ridesharing drivers creating traffic? Make the best decision to reduce your traffic problem. If you limit ridesharing, you'll ruin a quality service that most of your residents require daily. Point the fingers around, instead of using ridesharing drivers as a scapegoat for your poor decision-making abilities.