San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance

Uber/Lyft Release Their Own Study on Congestion

Uber and Lyft have finally admitted that they add to congestion. The two companies hired transportation consultancy firm Fehr & Peers to examine how much they contribute to Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). The resulting report, issued on August 6, examines VMT in six cities during one month last year, September 2018, and compares VMT by Ubers and Lyfts to the total VMT in each area. The study finds that Uber and Lyft vehicles are greatly out-numbered by personal and commercial vehicles, but they still produce significant shares of VMT, especially in San Francisco. You can read the report here.

The diagram below, from the study, shows the utilization rate for Ubers and Lyfts, combined. In San Francisco, they are driving without passengers approximately 40% of the time, 30% while waiting for a ride request and an additional 10% while driving to pick up a passenger.

TNC VMT by PhaseSource: Melissa Balding, Teresa Whinery, Eleanor Leshner and Eric Womeldorff, Fehr & Peers, "Estimated TNC Share of VMT in Six US Metropolitan Regions (Revision 1),", August 6, 2019, accessed August 24, 2019.


Rally at City Hall, Thursday, January 24th, 12:30 pm

Press Conference, 1:00 pm

Protest the MTA's unfair SFO taxi pickup plan!

SFTWA is co-sponsoring a rally and press conference at City Hall this Thursday, Jan. 24, at 12:30 p.m., in opposition to the MTA’s unfair SFO taxi pickup plan.

We will be calling upon Mayor London Breed to stop this disastrous plan from going forward.

The plan is intended to help holders of purchased medallions. They should be helped, but not at the expense of other drivers. We call on the City of San Francisco to buy back purchased medallions, allow ALL cabs and drivers to pick up at SFO, AND take back our streets from Uber and Lyft!

THURSDAY, JANUARY 24th at 12:30 pm at CITY HALL

Come on foot or in your cab! Fill the streets!
Fight this plan!
Demand better!

Protest the Medallion Plan: Tuesday, January 15, 1 pm at City Hall

Come to the SFMTA Board Meeting and tell the Directors what you think about their new "compromise" regulations for pickups at SFO, scheduled to go into effect on February 1st. The new plan will:

  • Ban cabs operating under pre-Prop K medallions from picking up at the airport (259 cabs).
  • Ban 8000-numbered cabs and spare cabs from picking up at the airport.
  • Force cabs operating under Prop K medallions to back-of-the-line, second-class status for pickups (569 cabs).
  • Give cabs operating under purchased medallions “quick access” for pickups (558 cabs).
  • Give ramp taxis "quick access" for pickups if they meet wheelchair pickup goals. 


Yes, quicker access at SFO for purchased medallions could help those drivers and medallion holders, but the extra money they earn will come out of the pockets of other cab drivers. All cab drivers are hurting. None of us can afford to subsidize other drivers.

The SFMTA created the mess we’re in.  It needs to step up and help drivers who purchased medallions, but this is not the way. Don't let them divide us! Don't ban taxis from SFO! Don't make taxis wait so long that it is effectively a ban! All cabs and cab drivers deserve equal access to SFO!

TUESDAY, JANUARY 15th at 1:00 pm at CITY HALL, ROOM 400.

We will speak during Public Comments, Agenda Item No. 9.

Our Demands.

The San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance calls on the City and County of San Francisco to:

  • Refund the purchase price for sold medallions and let the medallion holders keep them for life.
  • Guarantee that there are no more foreclosures due to hardship.
  • Allow all taxis and taxi drivers to pickup at SFO.
  • Allow individual Pre-K medallion holders to keep their medallions for life.
  • Take back our streets by regulating Uber and Lyft!


Labor Supports Us

As a San Francisco Labor Council affiliate, we submitted a resolution for the Council’s consideration in November. On November 26, 2018, the Labor Council unanimously adopted the resolution, calling on the MTA Board of Directors to repeal the so-called “Taxi Medallion Reform” that they approved in October. And even more, calling on the City and County of San Francisco to refund the purchase price of medallions instead.  We are encouraged to have their full support in our efforts to help all medallion holders and cab drivers.

Read the San Francisco Labor Council Resolution here.

Our Statement on the SFMTA’s Medallion Reform Proposal

The taxi system in San Francisco is in crisis. Because of the unrestricted proliferation of Ubers and Lyfts, taxi drivers have suffered devastating declines in their incomes. While all drivers are in financial distress, taxi drivers who purchased medallions are suffering the most. Almost 25 per cent of purchased medallion holders—working taxi drivers, mostly immigrants—have had their loans foreclosed, their credit damaged, and their dreams shattered. Many want to sell their medallions, but there are no buyers.

The Medallion Sales Program experiment has failed.

The City of San Francisco killed it.

In 2010, the SFMTA ended the voter-approved Proposition K medallion system, which mandated that medallions were not to be bought and sold, but granted for a nominal fee to taxi drivers who put their names on a Waiting List and earned medallions through years of sweat equity. In its place, the SFMTA enacted a pilot program selling medallions to taxi drivers for $250,000.

In the spring of 2012, before the Medallion Sales Program became permanent, Sidecar and Lyft began operating in San Francisco, using a smart phone app that connected passengers with drivers using their personal cars—clearly providing taxi services without complying with taxi regulations. The city made no effort to prohibit their operations or to regulate them. Edward D. Reiskin, Director of Transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, explained that the SFMTA took no action because “it. . . was fairly clear that city hall didn’t want us to step in and do so.”[1] Thus, the agency that had been set up to be independent of political influence took its direction from City Hall.

Because of this deliberate inaction, a state agency, the California Public Utilities Commission, declared it had jurisdiction, preempted local control, and adopted lax regulations for what they called a new form of transportation service: Transportation Network Companies, or TNCs.

Backed by millions in venture capital funding, and free from local regulation, Uber and Lyft have priced their rides below cost and flooded the streets of San Francisco with vehicles to ensure quick pick-up times and gain market share over taxis.

The SFMTA sold approximately 720 medallions, raising over $60 million from working taxi drivers to close a budget shortfall caused by the 2009-2010 recession, to the benefit of the City and County and the people of San Francisco.

The SFMTA has not sold a taxi medallion since April 2016, and the San Francisco Federal Credit Union, which financed the medallion loans, has sued the agency for breach of contract.

The SFMTA wants taxi drivers to pay for the mess they made.

Now, the SFMTA has issued another “Taxi Medallion Reform” proposal, shirking their responsibility for the mess they made, and asking taxi drivers to pay for it.

First, the SFMTA proposes to help purchased medallion holders by allowing only taxis licensed with a purchased medallion to pick up at SFO, banning more than half of the taxi fleet from working at the airport and creating classes of taxis with different privileges. This proposal pits driver against driver, robbing Peter to pay Paul. Thousands of taxi drivers will be denied a crucial means of earning a living. Many drivers are likely to quit, reducing the number of taxis serving The City, and harming those who rely on taxi service the most, our senior citizens and disabled community. It will turn The City over to Uber and Lyft!

Second, the SFMTA proposes that medallions purchased before Proposition K was enacted, known as Pre-K medallions, not be renewed, permanently depriving medallion holders who have followed all regulations, and who have done nothing wrong, of their medallions and the income derived from them. The SFMTA’s rationale: Pre-K medallion holders have held their medallions for at least forty years, and over that period, their medallions have earned them money enough. What other city license would be revoked for reasons like these? Taking these cabs off the streets will mean less service at busy times when they’re most needed.

Third, the SFMTA proposes eliminating the requirement that only working taxi drivers are eligible to buy medallions, and allowing corporations and other investors to purchase up to 50 medallions, taking medallions out of the hands of working taxi drivers. This proposal is a desperate ploy to save the failed Medallion Sales Program, and the SFMTA has cynically omitted from their presentation the fact the first medallions sold will be the foreclosed ones—not those currently held by struggling taxi drivers, giving false hope to many. But who will now buy a medallion for $250,000?

Our Demands.

The San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance calls on the City and County of San Francisco to:

  • Refund the purchase price for sold medallions and let the medallion holders keep them for life.
  • Guarantee that there are no more foreclosures due to hardship.
  • Allow all taxis and taxi drivers to pickup at SFO.
  • Allow individual Pre-K medallion holders to keep their medallions for life.
  • Prohibit future medallion sales.
  • And issue medallions only to working taxi drivers—not to corporations and investors.


And finally, the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance calls on the City and County of San Francisco to:

  • Take back our streets by regulating Uber and Lyft!


Click for a printable PDF version of Our Statement.

[1] Dewey, Onesimo Flores and Lisa Rayle, “Commercial Ride-Sharing: From Rogue to Mainstream in San Francisco,” in Transforming Urban Transport (Oxford University Press, 2018), 109.


  • Featured press release

    SFTWA White Paper

    January 06, 2015
    Contact: Sftwa Admin


    PRESS RELEASE 1/6/14
    SFTWA Calls on S.F. to Regulate Ride Services like UberX and Lyft

    Who: The San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance (SFTWA)
    What: Press conference
    Where: Front steps of City Hall, 1 Carlton B. GoodLett Place, San Francisco, CA When: Tuesday, January 6 at 12 noon

    The San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance (SFTWA) will hold a press
    conference at City Hall on Jan. 6 at noon to announce the release of a White Paper urging San Francisco to regulate “ride services” like UberX and Lyft and enforce against violations of law by those services and their drivers. DeSoto Cab is also a signatory to the document.

    The White Paper describes the city’s authority under state law to regulate these services (which are also called “TNCs”). Among the reasons why the city should exercise that authority are:

    • To protect public safety

    • To prevent insurance fraud

    • To ensure compliance with disabilities laws

    • To preserve the environment

    • To allow cab drivers to earn a livable income

    • To offset the city’s costs owing to TNC operations and require them to pay their

      fair share toward city revenues

      “The state has not done its job in regulating services like UberX and Lyft,” said SFTWA Executive Board member Barry Korengold. “Unless the city steps in the public will not be properly protected, congestion will continue to increase and the quality of service to taxi riders will suffer.”

      Speakers will include Tim Paulson, Executive Director of the San Francisco Labor Council; attorney Christopher Dolan, who represents the family of Sophia Liu, killed by an Uber driver in San Francisco; and disabled community activist Bob Planthold.

      The SFTWA has over 600 members and is affiliated with the National Taxi Workers Alliance, AFL-CIO.


    Contacts: Mark Gruberg / Barry Korengold


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