San Francisco City Officials have asked the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to slow or halt the expansion of Cruise and Waymo robotaxi services in the city. According to NBC News, San Francisco Transportation Authority (SFTA) officials have written to the CPUC stating that unlimited expansion would be “unreasonable” given recent safety incidents that have caused vehicles to block traffic and interfere with emergency vehicles.
Alphabet’s Waymo and Cruise, owned by GM, both operate fully autonomous vehicle services in San Francisco. In June 2022, Cruise was given permission to charge for rides in specific areas of the city between 10PM and 6AM. Waymo has permission to offer rides but is waiting for another permit to charge for them.
The SFTA is recommending a series of limited deployments and incremental expansions rather than unlimited authorizations to build public confidence and ensure industry success in San Francisco and beyond. The letters follow a number of incidents involving Cruise and Waymo vehicles in the city, including one where Cruise vehicles reportedly interfered with emergency responders.
Cruise has responded to the SFTA’s request by highlighting its safety record, which includes millions of miles driven in an urban environment with no life-threatening injuries or fatalities. The company has also been approved by the California DMV to operate its robotaxi service 24 hours a day, but is waiting for permission from the CPUC.
The SFTA has asked for more data regarding Cruise’s operation and wants to see robotaxi vehicles stay off primary routes during rush hour until they can demonstrate that they can operate without significant disruption to street operations and transit services. The SFTA is not opposed to the 24/7 expansion, but wants to ensure that safety remains the top priority.