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June 29, 2019



Uber and Lyft will likely just point the finger of blame at SFO for placing the two hold lots down there (any Uber/Lyft driver wishing to pick up a passenger at SFO usually has to be within one of the hold lots for the match to be made). However, a key element of the congestion is that there is no limit on the number of drivers wishing to operate as a transportation network company (TNC) during any given time. Thus, since many (most?) of the drivers are part-timers and/or have limited familiarity of the area (many commute in from the Central Valley), they choose to try to work the airport because of the potential volume of trips, higher fare opportunities, and airport passengers are viewed as a safe customer. SFO doesn’t have much land, so its choices for hold lot locations are pretty limited. If SFO didn’t have the hold lots, the drivers would likely be scattered all over Burlingame, Millbrae, and San Bruno (if you think parking at the In-N-Out rots now, without the hold lots, it’d be much worse).

Not surprisingly, the excessive traffic near the hold lots mirrors what happened at SFO (prior to the 2013/14 introduction of TNCs) with the taxis. Any SF cab could serve the airport, so many drivers chose to try for the reasons noted above. The result was an oversupply of taxis at the airport (and an undersupply in the city) and extremely long waits for drivers at the airport (drivers would wait in the hold lot for up to 4 hours during some periods). The difference was that taxi drivers knew not to try to serve the airport when the hold lots were full. If they couldn’t fit, they had to sit around and wait (because as SF city cabs, they couldn’t pick up passengers in ‘burbs) or head back to SF empty. TNC drivers have no such disincentive because they can pick up fares anywhere in California.

Unfortunately, there’s likely not much the cities of Millbrae and Burlingame (or any other city, for that matter) can do right now. Nationwide, Uber/Lyft managed to get their operations regulated at the state level (the California Public Utilities Commission has oversight here) and in most states, airports are the only entities (other than the state) that can implement their own regulations. So, cities are pretty much powerless, until they can convince the state to change the TNC-related laws to allow some more local control. Of course, the situation will likely be mitigated somewhat when the TNCs increase their fares to achieve post-IPO profitability. The current fares are 30-40% lower than what they should be; when that subsidy stops, demand will drop as well.


Should not any driver who picks up or drops off a fare in Burlingame be required to have a Burlingame business license and should not the council be able to set the price of that license at their discretion?


Nothing in the Bay Area or in the state gets done without some sort of environmental analyses or documentation. Doesn't have to be an EIR but some documentation that shows SFO thought about the impacts, forecasted what the traffic impacts were and how they intend to mitigate.

Just here waiting for SFO to be challenged to produce their environmental/CEQA docs to show what they thought would happen. If they don't have that doc/report, they can't do what they just did. They have to go back to what it was until they do. Uber/Lyft probably already on this.


Drivers ARE scattered in San Bruno and do such disgusting things as leaving urine-filled bottles in the street and food trash. Drivers are also doing lots of pickups and dropoffs in San Bruno -- travelers park their cars and call an Uber/Lyft. People know they can leave their cars 72 hours on the street, and if they park on a Friday, the 72 hours doesn't start until Monday. I know the drivers are just trying to make a living -- I'm mad at Uber/Lyft for exploiting them and SFO for being a bad neighbor.


Uber Lyft Clogging Manhattan as well: https://patch.com/new-york/new-york-city/uber-lyft-cars-clogging-manhattan-streets-study-finds

Steve Kassel

Sorry resident, but Burlingame or any other city would get crushed in court if they tried to impose a law requiring a business license for each and every city in which you pick up a passenger.


Why is that? The cab companies need a license. Uber and Lyft are doing business in Burlingame so they should get a license. The meeting with Uber and Lyft happened on Tuesday except Uber didn't show up. What does that tell you. It sounds like they went round and round according to the paper but didn't find any answer except to study it more. The Millbrae mayor is interested in a fine system for the drivers so maybe that is the answer but limiting the number of drivers waiting at once would be better.

Peter Garrison

Luxor Cab.
Love those folks.


License Fee's are taxation without representation. License fees are sure to bring on a major lawsuit.


icrito and Steve Kassel keep making these claims but don't both to explain why all the business permits and license fees we already have in place are still in place. Luxor Cab has a Burlingame license. Why is that not challenged? Please explain.


TNCs (UberX/Lyft)are regulated at the state level while taxicabs are not. (I believe limousines are also regulated at the state level and thus, are not required to register as a business in every jurisdiction they serve). Thus, any other jurisdiction is unable to impose its own TNC-related rules (airports are exempt from this) unless the legislation is modified accordingly.

Nick Therapolous

The license fee isn't managed fairly and is nothing more than a tax scheme? Uber and Lyft drivers are being recruited as we speak to drive the lawsuits. Looks like we will see what happens in court.

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