San Francisco Police Say Uber and Lyft Drivers Are Guilty of a Majority of Congestion Traffic Violations

Nearly two-thirds of the city's traffic citations are issued to Uber and Lyft drivers.

AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File

We may complain about taxi or bus drivers, but the San Francisco Police Department says that Uber and Lyft drivers are to blame for nearly two-thirds of all congestion-related traffic violations in the city, the San Francisco Examiner reports.

SFPD Commander Robert O’Sullivan heard "anecdotally" that a "significant number of the violators" were drivers for the ride-hailing companies. O'Sullivan directed a sergeant to tabulate some hard numbers to validate this claim, which he presented at a Board of Supervisors Land Use and Transportation committee hearing Monday.

Between April 1 and June 30, 1,144 out of 1,715 citations for illegally driving in transit-only lanes were issued to Uber and Lyft drivers. 

"In San Francisco, only transit vehicles and other buses, taxis, and emergency vehicles are allowed to use the transit lanes. Other vehicles are prohibited," a San Francisco County Transportation Authority survey explains. Despite providing a similar service to buses and taxis, ride-hailing drivers are not included. The assumption that they are included, or perhaps their disregard of the law, may explain why they get so many of these citations.

Improper use of transit lanes is far from their only violation. O'Sullivan's report also mentions that Uber and Lyft drivers received 183 out of 239 tickets issued for drivers obstructing a lane of traffic or a bike lane, and 42 tickets out of 57 for making U-turns in a business district.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin told the San Francisco Examiner that the number was dramatic enough to spur a potential lawsuit against Uber and Lyft. 

“I’m going to talk to City Attorney [Dennis] Herrera about this right now,” he said, and added he’d like to ask the State Attorney General’s Office to join a potential action.

In a written statement to the San Francisco Examiner, Lyft wrote, "We are supportive of holistic efforts to address congestion and have been in conversations with city officials for months to engage collaboratively on a pilot program to do just that." 

Yet this is not a concrete statement about exactly what Lyft intends to do about the problem. Perhaps its proposed self-driving ride-hailing program will help, particularly with Ford's assistance.