Uber, Lyft Lose Shield on Safety Reports as California Regulator Rescinds Secrecy Rule

March 13, 2020

San Francisco Public Press
By Seth Rosenfeld

Uber and Lyft can no longer keep their safety reports quite so secret.

Reversing a long-standing policy of extraordinary secrecy, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously voted Thursday to rescind an obscure footnote that granted sweeping confidentiality to safety reports that must be filed by Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies about accidents and assaults connected with their services across the state.

Commission President Marybel Batjer declared that the decision would promote transparency not only in an industry that plays an increasingly outsized role in the lives of Californians, but also in the commission’s own often-criticized regulation of it.

“It is time that the TNCs are subject to the same obligations as other utilities that the commission regulates,” she said, referring to transportation network companies, as the ride-hailing firms are technically known.

Batjer said that transparency “into our operations, while maintaining the privacy of individual users, is essential for the state and local governments and the public to ensure that the TNCs are operating with the highest safety standards, and to mitigate impacts on traffic congestion, transportation systems and greenhouse gas emissions.”

The commission’s 5-0 decision removes the secrecy footnote for all future annual reports that each ride-hailing firm must file. The reports cover subjects including the total number and location of trips, instances in which drivers are allegedly under the influence of alcohol or drugs, alleged assaults involving the services and traffic accidents.