San Francisco’s public transit operator has challenged the recent application submitted by Cruise to begin charging passengers for rides in its self-driving robotaxis.
According to Reuters, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) sent a 24-page letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) this week calling for it to deny a recent application from Cruise that would allow it to begin charging fares in the city. The letter turned CPUC’s attention to promotional videos published by Cruise’s parent company, General Motors, that allegedly show passengers getting in and out of the vehicles in the middle of the street, rather than curbside. According to SFMTA, boarding passengers in the road is a violation of the local transport code.
“Together, the Cruise Videos document 14 total stops for pick up or drop off of passengers; they provide evidence that not a single one of these stops complied with the requirements of the Vehicle Code and Transportation Code,” the letter said, as quoted by Reuters.
The SFMTA’s letter also said Cruise has failed to plan service in low-income or minority neighbourhoods where access to regular public transportation may be poor. It accused the company of failing to adequately accommodate wheelchair users with its fleet of robotaxis, as well, which are based on the Chevy Bolt EV compact hatchback.
Cruise told Reuters that it planned to issue a public response to the concerns raised in the SFMTA letter on Monday, December 6th, 2021. CPUC has not yet granted the company the application to begin charging fares and ultimately has the final say in whether or not the company will be allowed to do so. The company began offering free rides in the driverless cars to passengers in the area last month, but is now seeking to charge fares as it looks to launch a ride-hailing service akin to Uber or Lyft.
Cruise hopes to eventually roll out a large number of its Origin driverless robotaxis on public roads in San Francisco and other major U.S. cities. The driverless AV will enter production at its Factory Zero plant in 2023.