SFMTA Bucks Uber, Bans Private Autos From Turning On to Mid-Market Street

Uber's Wayne Ting told the SFMTA board the company opposed "preferential treatment" for taxis on Market Street. Video screenshot from Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez/YouTube
Uber’s Wayne Ting told the SFMTA board the company opposed “preferential treatment” for taxis on Market Street. Video screenshot from Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez/YouTube

Private auto drivers will be banned from turning on to Market Street between Third and Eighth streets after the restrictions were approved unanimously by the SFMTA Board of Directors yesterday.

The board dismissed the last-minute protest from Uber, who complained that its ride-hail drivers would be included in the ban, while taxis wouldn’t. In the roughly three hours of public comment, the vast majority of speakers supported the bans — safe streets advocates and taxi drivers alike.

Uber had initially criticized the plan outright, saying that it would “increase gridlock around town, with no improvement to safety.” But reps from Uber and Lyft, which have long fought the kind of regulations applied to the taxi industry, told the SFMTA board they support turn bans to make Market safer as long as they’re also applied to taxis.

“It creates a preferential treatment for one form of transportation over another,” Wayne Ting, Uber’s SF general manager told the board, eliciting jeers from members of the audience.

“If Uber wants to be regulated like a taxi then they can have the benefits of being regulated,” Walk SF Executive Director Nicole Ferrara told Bay City News.

The SF Transit Riders Union “wants to see San Francisco prioritize sustainable transit on Market Street, including Muni, biking and walking,” SFTRU’s Ilyse Magy said in a statement. Ride-hail apps, a.k.a. transportation network companies, are “now an important part of transportation in San Francisco, but these vehicles are also a huge source of transit-slowing congestion and pedestrian conflict. While the perfect layout for Market Street is still unclear, one thing is certain: it starts with reducing private vehicle traffic, which includes TNCs.”

Private auto drivers won’t be entirely banned from that stretch of Market once the turn restrictions are adopted, as scheduled for August. Drivers will be able to reach eastbound Market, between Eighth and Sixth Streets, by turning right from Ninth Street. Westbound drivers will be able to continue straight on Market from east of Third.

See more coverage of the meeting from the SF Examiner, the SF Chronicle, and Bay City News.

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