Waymo's robotaxi expansion beyond SF temporarily suspended as part of review

Waymo says the 120 day suspension is a normal part of the process as they look to expand to San Mateo and Los Angeles Counties.

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Waymo's expansion beyond SF temporarily suspended as part of review
The California Public Utilities Commission has suspended Waymo's driverless taxi expansion to San Mateo and Los Angeles Counties for 120 days.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As the driverless taxi company Waymo looks to expand beyond San Francisco on the Peninsula and in Los Angeles County, local lawmakers are saying 'not so fast.'

"We pumped the breaks on Waymo," San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa said.

After hearing of Waymo's request to the California Public Utilities Commission to expand to other counties, San Mateo County sent a letter to the CPUC protesting this expansion, citing a lack of communication.

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"At the end of the day, they need to do a better job of communicating and I think one of the issues that we had as a county was their issue with communicating with our fire department, communicating with our sheriff," Canepa said.

On Tuesday, the Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division, which serves as the enforcement arm of the CPUC, said the expansion of Waymo into both San Mateo and Los Angeles counties has been "suspended for up to 120 days from the end of the initial review period on February 20, 2024, for the following reason(s): Advice letter requires further staff review."

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Canepa noted a number of safety incidents in San Francisco, including when he says a Waymo vehicle stopped on a fire hose during a fire, when one drove through the yellow tape at a crime scene and most recently, when a Waymo was vandalized and set on fire in Chinatown during a Lunar New Year celebration.

"My greatest concern was on Highway 101, where speeds are at 65, to 75, if you're having issues in an urban setting at 15 to 20 miles an hour, what thinks that you can expand this technology and make it safe for others at 65 to 75 miles an hour?" he said.

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And in the next 120 days moving forward, Canepa says, he's hoping Waymo can establish better lines of communication with the county.

"We need to make sure and hold accountable that those who are moving for this technology, that they make it safe for people and that they don't use Highway 101 or other highways as their beaker in their science experiment," he said.

In a statement to ABC7, Waymo said:

"The "suspension" of an advice letter is a procedural part of the CPUC's standard and robust review process. It's standard procedure to automatically issue a "suspension for further review" on any advice letter that won't be decided in thirty days (again, very standard and expected). Our 2022 advice letter seeking paid rides authority for SF was similarly "suspended" before eventually being approved. This has no effect on Waymo's current service or state of our permits."

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