San Francisco Tells Waymo and Cruise Robotaxis to Get Out of Downtown and Rush Hours

The City of San Francisco wants Waymy and Cruise robotaxis kept out of downtown and to only drive outside of downtown during off-peak hours — outside 7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.

There are many dozen incidents of stopped robotaxis over the last few months. This can cause traffic jams effectiving tens of thousands of people for many hours.

On November 5, 2021, Cruise filed a Tier 3 advice letter (the Initial Advice Letter) seeking authority to deploy 30 Cruise AVs to offer commercial Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service (AVPS) in San Francisco. After considering comments submitted by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (collectively San Francisco), and others, the Commission approved the Initial Advice Letter by Resolution TL-19137 (the Initial Approval) and issued it on June 6, 2022. The Initial Approval authorized Cruise to
provide commercial services using 30 Cruise AVs between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am in a confined area of San Francisco that the Commission described as excluding the City’s downtown core.

By submission of a Tier 2 Advice Letter on December 16, 2022 (the Expansion Advice Letter), Cruise seeks Commission approval to offer commercial AVPS throughout “the entire 7×7 of San Francisco,” with a fleet starting with 100 Cruise AVs and growing thereafter at the sole discretion of Cruise. The geographic area approved by the California DMV excludes all limited access freeways, several major arterials, and all streets on Treasure Island but includes all of the dense downtown core. Cruise proposes to offer service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—thus incorporating the city’s peak weekday travel hours of 7-10 AM and 4-7 PM. Cruise thus seeks authority to make the most consequential decisions about future expansion of commercial service at its own discretion without input from the Commission, the City, or the public.

Cruise and Waymo Robotaxis Have Blocked Traffic With Unexpected Stops

In the months since the Initial Approval, Cruise AVs have made unplanned and unexpected stops in travel lanes where they obstruct traffic and transit service, and intruding into active emergency response scenes, including fire suppression scenes, creating additional hazardous conditions. If the Commission approves sweeping authorizations for both Waymo and Cruise, the hazards and network impacts caused by planned and unplanned AV stops that obstruct traffic could soon affect a large percentage of all San Francisco travelers.

While San Francisco does not categorically oppose incremental expansions of Cruise commercial deployment under the terms described below, San Francisco submits this protest under Section 7.4.2 of General Order 96-B on grounds the relief requested in the Expansion Advice Letter—including broad expansion of geographic area and service hours—is unreasonable in light of the Cruise AV performance record discussed in detail below and the following additional circumstances.

2 thoughts on “San Francisco Tells Waymo and Cruise Robotaxis to Get Out of Downtown and Rush Hours”

  1. This is how things are meant to go. You have a new tech. You do a trial. Depending on the results you either expand usage OR you pull back and try to fix things before using it again.

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