The 2020 public TNC Annual Reports reveal numerous issues related to basic compliance with data reporting requirements, and the integrity of the data itself. At the most basic level, Lyft’s 2020 Public Annual Reports are incomplete according to the rules adopted by the CPUC: 8 of their 19 public reports are missing required data fields, and 64% of all Lyft’s required public data items are missing. By contrast, Uber’s 2020 Public Annual Reports contain all but one of the required public fields. This suggests that reporting rules are applied or enforced inconsistently.
The data contained within the 2020 TNC Public Annual Reports is often self-contradictory and internally inconsistent. For example, Uber’s total number of trips differs by more than 9 million from one report to the next, while Lyft’s differs by nearly 50 million trips. In some cases, the data submitted is erroneous or unreasonable: Lyft’s reports indicate that it accepted 100% of trip requests received across vast swaths of California.
While there is improvement in the consistency of some 2021 reports, the 2021 reports are more highly redacted, and their consistencies cannot be fully evaluated. These issues are exacerbated by, if not directly caused by, data reporting requirements that are, at times, unclear; lack of quality assurance or enforcement of quality standards; and application of confidentiality standards that are not consistent with the CPUC’s orders. The lack of accurate, timely and transparent data has left localities without sufficient information to support a basic understanding of TNC operations in their jurisdictions or their potential impacts. Timely and accurate data is fundamental to developing sensible public policy and to identify where it is appropriate to seek improved oversight. The pervasive data quality issues suggests the need for quality control, greater adherence to Commission direction regarding disclosure of data, and enforcement of reporting requirements.
TNCs operate almost exclusively in dense urban areas and during the busiest times of day, where they have been shown to exacerbate congestion and reduce transit ridership. As the reports show, there may be public safety risks, environmental harm, and issues of equitable access to TNC services. California cities, which have limited regulatory authority over TNCs, rely on the CPUC to manage impacts, enforce regulations, and provide relevant, timely, thorough, and quality data to support the effective development of informed public policy. Cities face similar regulatory reliance on CPUC regarding AV passenger services. CPUC’s public AV reports are following a similar pattern to the public TNC reports of redacted data. Timely, thorough, quality data reporting is essential to effective research and policy-making for both TNC and AV ride-hail passenger services, and effective regulation is critical as these new services become more widely available.