The Taxi Paratransit Association of California (TPAC),the trade group representing the major cab companies of California, has filed appeals to the California Supreme Court and the California Court of Appeals over the faulty decisions of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) which has allowed an unlimited number of personal vehicles to provide virtually unregulated taxi service under the guise of “Transportation Network Companies” or “TNCs”. The few regulations they do have are not enforceable by the CPUC or only require self-enforcement by the Transportation Network Companies themselves. These are the same companies that came into existence by breaking countless transportation laws and spreading false claims.
TPAC’s Supreme Court Petition is based on the fact that the CPUC failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which requires an environmental impact study before a local or state agency enacts an order or decision that will have a reasonably foreseeable impact on the environment. Although the CPUC claims its Decisions 13-09-045 and 14-04-022 were “mostly paper” and did not have a foreseeable impact on the environment, these erroneous decisions authorized thousands of unregulated or inspected vehicles onto the roadways for up to 12 or more hours at a time. This number of vehicles continues to grow and has no end in sight.
With exception for Paratransit vehicles, SF taxis are required to be either hybrids or use alternative fuel. San Francisco has the cleanest taxi fleet in the nation with 97% of its approximately 1,900 taxicabs being alternative fuel or hybrids. Since January 2013, when the CPUC rescinded its cease and desist orders against Uber and Lyft, the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association has collected over 7,000 unique license plate numbers to date of personal vehicles providing this unregulated taxi service. Our database confirms more than 3,500 active “TNCs” during the past 45 days. These figures only reflect the plates we’ve been able to collect, as we know there are many more. Our photo database even includes a
In TPAC’s filing with the California Court of Appeals, it asserts “that the Commission’s decisions (1) are not supported by adequate findings (2) are in excess of Commission jurisdiction and unlawfully intrude on the exclusive jurisdiction of California cities and counties: and (3) violate TPAC members’ state and federal constitutional rights to equal protection of the laws.
We at the SFCDA wholeheartedly agree with this reality and thank TPAC for standing up to this Alice In Wonderland mindset, where “on demand” is “prearranged”, and “prearranged” does not include “advanced orders“. Where “price gouging” is “surge pricing” and “surge pricing” is sometimes “Prime Time Tipping”. Where “triple the price” is a “200% tip” (Lyft). “Personal vehicles” are vehicles that are used mostly for commercial purposes, without incurring common industry costs such as commercial livery insurance, permit fees or business taxes. Nor are they required to follow existing transportation laws as long as they simply use a smartphone app to get orders.
Having been a participant from the beginning, I have witnessed first hand the skewed nature of the CPUC’s rulemaking proceeding R.12-12-011, and how the workshops were conducted. (See SFCDA’s Initial Final Comments) This proceeding was obviously predetermined from its onset, as evidenced by the CPUC’s lifting of its cease and desist orders against these unlicensed and unregulated taxi services, creating a Wild West “anything goes” taxi war on the streets of San Francisco. Only legal taxicabs are required to follow any rules, have proper insurance or regulated, metered pricing.
The CPUC’s decisions violate state and federal equal protection laws by creating a preferential category of people who provide the same service to the same customers as another already existing, “similarly situated” group of people, by not requiring them to follow the same rules or pay the same costs of doing business.
We support TPAC’s efforts for truth and justice, and hope that law and order returns to the streets.