After she pointed to millions of dollars in uncollected fees for public services and alleged serious mismanagement problems, the executive director of California’s utility regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission, was fired. Commissioners said Alice Stebbins had misled the public about missing funds and accused her of favoritism in hiring. But an investigation by the Bay City News Foundation and ProPublica looked into the dismissal, and found the director had been right about the missing money.
In January, the San Francisco Public Press published an investigation showing just how much we don’t know about the safety record of the ride-hailing industry. The Public Press recently hosted an event at which journalist Seth Rosenfeld offered the latest developments in the story
In a dramatic reversal, the agency that regulates the state’s massive ride-hailing industry has proposed that annual safety reports filed by Uber and Lyft should be presumed public. A San Francisco Public Press investigation published Jan. 7 found that the California Public Utilities Commission, the primary regulator of the state’s ride-hailing industry, has permitted the firms to file the reports confidentially on the basis of a single sentence inserted into the regulations as footnote 42, without prior public notice amid heavy industry lobbying.
The California Public Utilities Commission says it expects to decide by the end of March whether to revise or throw out an obscure footnote that it has used to justify keeping data about thousands of ride-hailing accidents across the state under wraps. “We anticipate issuing a decision on the matter in the first quarter of 2020,” commission President Marybel Batjer said in a letter dated Jan. 27 to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. The agency also “has established a team dedicated to investigating potential TNC misconduct.”
The San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance has joined several legislators in calling for the California Public Utilities Commission to allow at least some public access to ride-hailing safety information.
Seth Rosenfeld, the reporter who broke the story that ride-hailing safety data has been kept hidden from the public with the help of the industry’s chief regulator, offers an update.
Two state legislators and the chairman of San Francisco’s transportation board say the California Public Utilities Commission should release secret safety records on thousands of ride-hailing accidents. Their comments came in response to a San Francisco Public Press investigation that found the agency has been keeping confidential reports on accidents involving Uber, Lyft and other app-based transportation firms for more than six years.
Audio interview: When investigative reporter Seth Rosenfeld couldn’t find published data on Lyft and Uber’s safety records in California, he set out to find that information for himself
San Francisco-based ride-hailing giant Uber has advertised that it is “embarking on a new chapter of transparency, connectivity and community right here in the city we call home.” But the report does not include thousands of accidents involving the Uber app that the firm knows about.
After an evening of socializing in Santa Barbara, Margaret Schimmel and her brother, Joseph, hailed an Uber to take them home, but the ride turned into a nightmare, according to a lawsuit they filed against Uber and the driver in San Francisco Superior Court. The case illustrates Uber’s use of secrecy in responding to lawsuits that accuse it and its drivers of injuring people — and the hurdles that accident victims can face in trying to hold the nation’s largest ride-hailing firm accountable.
As PG&E undergoes a reorganization after declaring bankruptcy, cities around Northern California are working to figure out how to take over the distribution of electricity, hoping to better serve residents.