Do you want these in your hometown?
Attitudes toward self-driving cars are rolling towards a slow boil in San Francisco as public opinion on them continues to sour. There have been a number of problems with the vehicles, leading some residents to try disabling them through simple, non-destructive methods. But California is opening the way for even more on public streets and residents’ frustration risks boiling over.
While we’ve focused on the many safety issues presented by vehicles which supposedly would be impeccable in that area, a new report from Gulf News sheds a light on other areas of deep concern for San Francisco.
One we hadn’t realized was a growing issue has to do with competition for public transit. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency apparently has pushed back on Cruise and Waymo operations in the city, concerned that those robotaxi services will erode fare revenues. In the past, the agency has criticized rideshare services for making public roads more congested.
Gulf News also highlighted how displeased the fire chief in San Francisco, Jeanine Nicholson, is with robotaxis in the city. Nicholson claims there are “challenges and issues” with how they operate but says the companies running them won’t admit as much, instead opting to spin positive PR in lieu of fixing things. For example, a Cruise taxi ran into a firetruck with its emergency lights activated, similar to what’s happened with Teslas allegedly using Auto Pilot.
Of course, there are the many safety incidents in the city. Self-driving taxis have frozen in place, congesting traffic and even causing accidents. One ran over a small dog a few months ago. They’ve driven into active emergency scenes and construction zones. The list goes on and many San Francisco residents aren’t pleased.
City attorney David Chiu is fighting to have the state stop robotaxi services from charging fares during high usage periods after the state approved such a move. We’ll see if he’s successful in that endeavor.
One thing the article points out is some of these same robotaxi services operate in other states like Arizona with few problems. Not everyone agrees on why that is, but some fear that as residents and government officials continue pestering Cruise, Waymo, etc. the businesses will pull up roots and move to another state, taking jobs and revenue with them. It’s happened with quite a few other companies which tired of crushing state regulations, so these seem like legitimate concerns.
Images via Cruise, YouTube, Twitter