Introduction and purpose

Chapter 1

Following the rapid rise of ride- hailing and other private mobility services, San Francisco transportation agencies adopted 10 Guiding Principles to serve as a framework for evaluating emerging mobility services and technologies and promote their deployment toward the achievement of city goals, including San Francisco’s Transit-First and Vision Zero policies, and climate and equity objectives. Key among these is the principle of Accountability:

“Emerging Mobility Services and Technologies providers must share relevant data so that the City and the public can effectively evaluate the services’ benefits to and impacts on the transportation system and determine whether the services reflect the goals of San Francisco.”

Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft began providing on-demand, app-based transportation ride-hail services in California in 2009. In 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) began formally regulating TNCs in the state. The CPUC develops regulations through public rulemaking proceedings, and implements regulations through its Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division (CPED).

Since 2014, TNCs operating in California have been required to submit annual reports to the CPUC. These TNC Annual Reports contain information about a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to, trip requests and completions, collisions and incidents, assaults and harassment, and miles and hours driven.

This information is of great interest to cities like San Francisco where TNCs operate. While TNCs can argue for confidential treatment of specific data required to be submitted in their Annual Reports, the CPUC has designated the TNC Annual Reports from 2020 onward as presumptively public, and a proposed decision would make all past reports public.

In February 2022, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (”Transportation Authority”) requested the 2020 public TNC Annual Reports for Uber and Lyft from the CPUC.1 The CPUC treated the request as a Public Records Act (PRA) request, and provided the reports later that month. These reports cover the period from September 2019 to August 2020 and are highly redacted. Subsequently, in October 2022, the CPUC published substantially redacted versions of the 2021 public TNC Annual Reports.2 Of these reports, only Uber’s 2020 public TNC Annual Reports satisfy the CPUC’s reporting requirements, while the others were redacted to remove public data. When the CPUC releases the 2021 public TNC Annual Reports consistent with its confidentiality determinations, the Transportation Authority will produce a follow-up report documenting findings.

The CPUC also regulates the nascent autonomous vehicle (AV) passenger service industry. The CPUC develops AV regulations in the very same proceedings as TNC regulations, and likewise implements them through the CPeD. AV passenger services are like TNCs in more ways than not, but with the important distinction that they plan to, and in some cases already do, use self-driving cars without any human safety driver. AV passenger service companies submit quarterly reports which, by contrast, are routinely published by the CPUC, but similar to the public TNC Annual Reports, are heavily redacted.

The purpose of this document is to provide information on TNC activity in San Francisco and throughout California as summarized from the CPUC’s 2020 public TNC Annual Reports. The report is intended to inform the Transportation Authority Board, as well as state and local policy-makers in other arenas, and the general public, on general characteristics of the TNC market (how many, when, and where are trips happening?), and on performance of TNCs in terms of public safety, labor, environment, and accessibility.

This document examines the 2020 public TNC Annual Reports to present findings organized into topic areas:

  • Reporting Compliance and Integrity
  • General Characteristics
  • Public Safety
  • Labor
  • Environment
  • Accessibility

Each section describes the public interest in TNC activities in that area, the CPUC’s role in providing oversight, and what the 2020 public TNC Annual Reports tell us about TNCs. Note that Lyft’s 2020 public Annual Reports are substantially incomplete, which is discussed in detail in Section 2.

In 2019, San Francisco voters approved Proposition D, which imposes a tax on all ride-hail trips originating in San Francisco, revenue from which started to be collected in 2020. The Prop D revenue trends have been highly variable prompting the Transportation Authority to explore ways to validate Prop D revenues, including by analyzing the CPUC’s public TNC Annual Reports.

What are TNCs?

TNCs are companies that provide on-demand passenger service through a web-enabled platform. Uber and Lyft are the most well-known TNCs and collectively provide almost all TNC service in California. These services provide taxi-like point-to-point transportation, which is primarily provided in TNC drivers’ personal vehicles. TNCs rapidly grew into a popular transportation option likely due to the conveniences that TNCs initially provided including point-to-point service, ease of booking and paying for rides, shorter wait times, generally lower fares (relative to taxis), and real-time communication with drivers. However, due to their widespread adoption in urban areas, TNCs have been shown to increase congestion and emissions by shifting trips from walking, biking, and transit to private vehicles, by adding zero-occupancy “deadheading” mileage in between passenger trips, and by blocking travel lanes for pickups and drop-offs.3 They have also been shown to decrease transit ridership in these areas.4

Who regulates TNCs in California?

In California, TNCs are generally regulated by the CPUC, pursuant to the Passenger Charter-party Carriers’ Act, PU Code § 5351. TNCs operate under different regulatory constraints, oversight, and enforcement than taxis, which are regulated at the local level and are often subject to limits on fleet size and pricing, safety requirements, and are required to serve all types of passengers. TNCs are required to comply with insurance requirements, regulations on the transportation of minors, and to conduct criminal background checks on drivers. TNCs are required to have a driver training program, an accessibility plan, a zero-tolerance policy, and a plan for avoiding a divide between able and disabled communities. TNCs are required to submit annual reports to the CPUC, and the CPUC may require additional reports or plans to be filed at its discretion. Reporting requirements are discussed in detail in the following section.

What are the 2020 TNC reporting requirements?

The 2020 TNC Annual Reports are a collection of individual reports submitted to the CPUC by each TNC operating in California. The 2020 public TNC Annual Reports are the portions of the full 2020 TNC Annual Reports that the CPUC designates public. Table 1 lists the required 2020 TNC Annual Reports and identifies whether they are confidential, public, or partly public. There are 20 individual reports, of which the CPUC has designated 19 either completely or partially public (some items within the reports are confidential and may be redacted). Two reports include “Confidential” in their name for legacy reasons but are, in fact, public. The document Driver Names & IDs is the sole report designated entirely confidential as it contains personal information of drivers.

Table 1: Confidentiality Determination of the 2020 TNC Annual Reports
Report NameConfidentiality Determination
Driver Names & IDsConfidential
Accessibility Report (Confidential)Public
Accessibility Report (Public)Public
Accessibility Complaints (Confidential)Partially public
Accessibility Complaints (Public)Public
Accidents & IncidentsPartially public
Assaults & HarassmentsPartially public
50,000+ MilesPartially public
Number of HoursPartially public
Number of MilesPartially public
Driver TrainingPublic
Law Enforcement CitationsPartially public
Off-platform SolicitationPartially public
Aggregated Requests AcceptedPublic
Requests AcceptedPartially public
Aggregated Requests Not AcceptedPublic
Requests Not AcceptedPartially public
Suspended DriversPartially public
Total Violations & IncidentsPublic
Zero TolerancePartially public

How did the CPUC arrive at these reporting requirements?

The CPUC develops TNC regulations through a quasi-legislative public rulemaking proceeding. The CPUC’s Rulemaking R12-12-011 is the primary TNC proceeding and is charged with developing regulations in the areas of safety, ride sharing between multiple passengers, transportation access (including access to public highways and to transportation services using public highways), and insurance.5 Major decisions related to data reporting, confidential treatment of data, and public sharing of data are summarized in Appendix A. Annual reporting requirements were first established by Decision 13-09-045 (D. 13-09-045) in 2013, which include:

  • Detailed trip data
  • Public safety incidents
  • Driver mileage
  • Driver hours

D. 13-09-045 also required TNCs to submit plans to ensure accessible TNC service to disabled communities. Decision 16-04-041, issued in 2016, expanded the annual data reporting to include:

  • a report on vehicles that were driven over 50,000 miles in a year
  • a report on incidents arising from fare-splitting (or “pooling”)6 services
  • a report on how fare-splitting operations have impacted the environment
  • a report on the effect of fare-splitting operations on traffic-related injuries
  • a report documenting drivers suspended for public safety reasons, including violation of zero-tolerance policy, assaulting a passenger or member of the public, harassing a passenger or member of the public, or soliciting business without the TNC app platform

The 2016 decision also imposed several one-time reporting requirements that TNCs must submit:

  • waybills to document the calculation of fares for fare-splitting services
  • a plan for studying the impacts of fare-splitting services on traffic safety
  • a plan for studying the impacts of fare-splitting services on the environment
  • a plan for studying the impacts of TNC vehicles on traffic congestion and VMT

The CPUC has not shared the annual reports required by D. 13-09-045 and D. 16-04- 041 publicly to date, with the exception of the incomplete and heavily redacted 2020 public TNC Annual Reports released to the Transportation Authority in response to our request, and the even further redacted 2021 public TNC Annual Reports. The record indicates Uber submitted documentation of their fare-splitting calculations, but not any other one-time requirements, pursuant to D. 16-04-041. The record does not indicate that other companies submitted any of the D. 16-04-041 one-time requirements.

While the rulemaking track identifies the categories of data required of TNC Annual Reports, CPUC CPeD staff develop report templates and reporting guidance. CPeD staff have revised report templates and guidance over time both with and without general public noticing.

How did the CPUC determine what is confidential vs public data?

The CPUC rulemaking R12-12-011 also establishes what data is confidential and what data is public. D. 13-09-045 established a presumption of confidentiality, which was reversed by D. 20-03-014. Reports filed before 2020 were presumed confidential, while reports filed in 2020 and after are presumed public. Under D. 20-03-014, a TNC must request confidential treatment of certain data items in their annual reports, and substantiate their requests with "granular specificity".

Both Uber and Lyft submitted motions with sweeping requests for confidential treatment of their 2020 TNC Annual Reports. The CPUC’s Administrative Law Judge has ruled in favor of public disclosure of the reports, while respecting the need to prevent the disclosure of potentially personally identifiable information.78 The 2020 Confidentiality Ruling granted confidential treatment to data items relating to driver information, precise latitude and longitude, certain information about assaults and harassments, and information that is sealed under a court order or protected through a confidentiality agreement, but rejected confidential treatment of the majority of data items, finding no merit in the claims of disclosure of personal information or of trade secrets.9 The Commission also found “significant difficulties and delays in obtaining TNCs’ annual report data based upon broad-brush-style or rushed confidentiality claims,” and that “TNCs’ failures to timely comply with the annual reporting requirements have delayed the expeditious review of TNC data and the production of nonconfidential data to the public.”10

The CPUC has twice upheld its 2020 Confidentiality Ruling directing the public release of the 2020 public TNC Annual Reports in response to repeated appeals by Lyft.1112 However, the CPUC has yet to release any TNC Public Annual Reports that fully comply with the Administrative Law Judge’s confidentiality rulings (i.e. reports which fully provide the data categories deemed public by the Commission and which only redact categories of data deemed confidential). The Commission’s latest decision denying Lyft’s appeal of the 2020 Confidentiality Ruling directed Lyft to submit to the CPUC a full public version of their 2020 Annual Report before the end of March 2023. The Transportation Authority has not yet received the re-submitted version of the Lyft’s 2020 Public TNC Annual Report. It’s possible that data missing or redacted from Lyft’s 2020 Public TNC Report was removed pending final dispensation of Lyft’s confidentiality challenges.

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  1. As detailed below in Chapter 1, Section V, the CPUC has granted confidential treatment over limited data required to be submitted in the TNC’s Annual Reports. Use of the term “public TNC Annual Report” is meant to refer to the portions of the full TNC Annual Reports that the CPUC has deemed to be public and not subject to confidentiality redactions. ↩︎

  2. CPUC. ↩︎

  3. Erhardt. Do TNCs Decrease or Increase Congestion? Science Advances. Vol 5, Issue 5. May 8, 2019. ↩︎

  4. Graehler. Understanding the Recent Transit Ridership Decline in Major US Cities: Service Cuts or Emerging Modes? 2019. 98th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board.; Erhardt. Transportation Network Companies Increase or Decrease Transit Ridership? Empirical evidence from San Francisco. 2021. ↩︎

  5. Order Instituting Rulemaking on Regulations Relating to Passenger Carriers, Ridesharing, and New Online-Enabled Transportation Services, R.12-12-011, issued December 27, 2012. ↩︎

  6. “Fare-slitting” and “pooling” are synonyms which refer to passengers that agree to share all or part of their trip with another paying customer who has also agreed to the same, regardless of whether the separate paying passengers are ultimately matched together resulting in a shared ride. ↩︎

  7. Motion of Uber Technologies, Inc. for Leave to File Confidential Information Under Seal; [Proposed] Order. CPUC Rulemaking R12-12-011. Filed 6/22/2020. ↩︎

  8. Motion of Lyft, Inc. for Confidential Treatment of Certain Information in Its 2020 Annual Report. CPUC Rulemaking R12-12-011. Filed 6/22/2020. ↩︎

  9. "2020 Confidentiality Ruling". Assigned Administrative Law Judge’s Ruling on Uber Technologies, Inc.’s and Lyft’s Motion for Confidential Treatment of Certain Information in Their 2020 Annual Reports. CPUC Rulemaking R12-12-011. 12/21/2020. ↩︎

  10. Decision 21-06-023, page 26. CPUC Rulemaking R12-12-011. 6/3/2021. ↩︎

  11. Decision 22-05-003. CPUC Rulemaking R12-12-011. 5/5/2022. ↩︎

  12. Decision 23-02-041. CPUC Rulemaking R12-12-011. 2/23/2023. ↩︎