An agreement between ride-hailing company Uber Technologies and the city of Boston to share anonymized ridership data bars the city from sharing the information -- and even contains an offer from Uber to foot the bill if the city is sued for it.
The first-of-its-kind deal reached earlier this month is meant to help Boston take an informed approach to transportation policy by providing it with trip data on “tens of thousands” of people who arrange car service through the Uber app, according to a copy of the agreement shared with the Globe in response to a public records request.
But unlike other public records, Boston can’t release the data. Bonnie McGilpin, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s office, cited a section of the Massachusetts Public Records Law that protects “trade secrets or commercial or financial information” from public disclosure.
The city’s agreement with Uber goes further to say the city would notify the company if it received a request for the data, if it was sued for it, or if a judge compelled the city to release it, so the San Francisco-based startup could file an appeal or fund a defense.
About a week ago, Uber released information about its drivers that showed nearly 10,000 Boston residents drove for the company on a regular basis. Around 13 percent of those drivers worked more than 35 hours per week, and the typical driver earned more than $20 an hour before expenses like gas.
But the data Uber is sharing with the City of Boston includes information on individual trips, including their duration, distance, and the ZIP codes where passengers were picked up and dropped off.Jack Newsham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.