SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Days after the California Public Utilities Commission approved a major expansion of driverless taxi service in San Francisco, city officials are now asking for a pause. On Wednesday, officials led by San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu filed an administrative motion with the CPUC seeking to stay the implementation of the CPUC’s Aug. 10 resolution that granted Cruise and Waymo permission to expand their commercial AV fleets in the city without restriction.
“San Francisco is seeking a stay while it pursues rehearing of the CPUC decision,” the city attorney’s office said in a press release.
The request for a pause comes on the heels of a series of mishaps and disruptive incidents involving robotaxis since the expansion was granted. On Wednesday, a driverless Cruise car drove past a “road closed” sign and a construction worker holding a “stop” sign and drove through a construction site before “bricking” with its hazards on.
On Friday, the day after the CPUC approval, at least five Cruise cars blocked traffic in North Beach. The company blamed the problems on “wireless connectivity issues,” stemming from the massive Outside Lands festival on the other side of the city in Golden Gate Park.
“Over the last year, there have been numerous reports of poor AV performance creating safety hazards and interfering with first responder operations, public transit, street construction workers, and the flow of traffic,” the city attorney’s office said. “Both Cruise and Waymo have publicly stated plans to dramatically increase the number of AVs available for commercial use following the CPUC’s decision. This uptick will inevitably lead to an increase in traffic congestion and the number of dangerous incidents.”
“When deploying powerful, new technology, safety should be a top priority,” said City Attorney Chiu. “We have seen that this technology is not yet safe, and poor AV performance has interfered with the life-saving operation of first responders. San Francisco will suffer serious harms from this unfettered expansion, which outweigh whatever impacts AV companies may experience from a minimal pause in commercial deployment.”
The CPUC “abused its discretion” in approving the expansion, according to Chiu’s office. The agency also “failed to consider the environmental impacts” of deploying “several thousand additional AVs” on the city’s streets, according to the city attorney.
A Cruise spokesperson provided the following statement in response to the city’s filing:
“The CPUC’s decision was the result of a months-long process that saw public input and support from accessibility groups, labor unions, and community advocates–culminating in a six hour public comment period where the majority supported expanded AV access. It’s unfortunate to see the city use public resources to bypass that decision and restrict a technology with an excellent safety record used by tens of thousands of SF residents.”
The CPUC has yet to publicly respond to the request.