Since I’ve got a broken ankle I can’t do too much so I was checking out the prices last night after OutsideLands finished for taking a ride with the various TNC’s as an alternative to cab rides or muni. It was pretty shocking.
I drive for Sidecar and was able to drive last year and it was pretty busy. Most of the rides were short because people would park a few blocks away and walk to the concert. Most of my trips were for around $8-$10. This year it was different. A lot different.
I started checking prices around 9:30pm on Uber and Sidecar [Lyft doesn’t give estimates, but I had heard they were charging 25% Prime Time Tips on top of their ride fee]. Here’s what I found. I live a little over a mile from OutsideLands and was curious what a ride would cost me to get home from there:
Uber: $40 [estimate]
Sidecar: $6 [real price]
Yes, Uber has what is known as surge pricing. If Uber thinks there is going to be a high demand they will charge more to get more drivers out there. It’s actually the opposite of the supply and demand idea. When a lot of people want a product the price goes down to move more product. Uber is a service though, so when demand goes up so does the price. The biggest problem is that Uber isn’t the only game in town as much as they’d like to think.
Sidecar has a policy where driver’s can set their own prices, but new drivers are set up so that their first 25 rides will be forced to the minimum of $5 and base multiplier of 1.0. This doesn’t mean all rides will be $5, but they will be cheaper. This pricing makes regular Sidecar drivers stay competitive with the new drivers and not seriously overcharging for the service. It’s kind of an odd way of doing business, but it seems to work out better so far for the riders.
Another odd thing was that if you tried to get an Uber car at 9:30 on the Richmond side of Golden Gate Park it was surging at 5.0x, but if you walked a little bit to the Sunset side to get an Uber car it was at 2.0x. That’s over half the price. Here’s where it gets a little weird. Richmond side Uber to Russian Hill [a friend of mine asked me this question] $75. Sunset side Uber to Russian Hill $50. Yes, you could save $25 and take a longer ride just by walking the equivalent of a couple of blocks.
My advice to people looking for an alternative to the overburdened Muni to get too and from OutsideLands is that if you’re going to take Uber go to the Sunset [south] side of Golden Gate Park to request a ride, or just look for Sidecar which will save you the most money. It won’t guarantee you a $6, but it will definitely be a lot cheaper than Uber or Lyft.
I was on the Muni metro the other day and happened to run out of things to do with my iPhone while traveling to my destination. I happened to remember that I had a decibel meter on my iPhone and decided to run it because the street car seemed a bit loud. I was pretty surprised at what it told me. It peaked at 105db and averaged between 90-95db. What does this all mean? Read on and find out.
A normal conversation takes place at about 70db. A loud rock concert can be at 110-120db. Anything over 85db is bad for your hearing in long bursts. Once you pass 85db you’ll start to develop hearing damage after 30 minutes. Pass 100db and in five minutes you’ll start to develop damage.
I luckily have a set of earplugs that reduce the noise by 60db and they’re reusable. I used to be the guy at rock concerts that was uncool because I wore earplugs. When I was managing the band Warfare D.C. we used to sell earplugs so that the people coming to the show and the musicians in the bands didn’t have to go deaf when performing.
I remember getting jeered at in the beginning, but some of the people didn’t like leaving the clubs with their ears ringing and started to purchase the earplugs. They were a foam type that you could throw away afterwards and selling them gave us a bit of an edge because it was one of the few ways to make extra money by selling everyone a disposable item for under a buck.
I never thought that the street cars would be so loud and now I might set up shop outside West Portal station or perhaps down at Embarcadero or Montgomery stations selling the ear plugs. Our transit system shouldn’t be so noisy, but it is. While I had thought about noise at concerts I never thought about noise in every day life and it’s pretty astounding.
If you go to work everyday on the streetcars like most people do, you’re exposing yourself to noise pollution of a high magnitude. When I was in a band and rehearsing we used to get the local police knocking on the door telling us that we were emitting greater than 75db from my house where we rehearsed and had to stop. I never thought about that, but essentially they were saying we were having a loud conversation that other people could hear. We weren’t necessarily endangering people’s ears outside the house, but the law is the law. I’m sure we were putting out more than 75db from the house, but the law is also sometimes leaning toward the neighbors of a nice quiet neighborhood. I suppose that’s why most rehearsal studios tend to be in industrial not residential areas.
I’m hoping that some of the San Francisco Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee will read this and think about it. We don’t want a large majority of San Franciscans saying, what was that you said when they hit their 40’s. I’ve been so good with my protecting my ears from a young age that I can’t have my cell phone more than halfway up when I have the ringtone turned on because it seems too loud. My wife is taking a shower right behind me with a wall separating us and it seems loud to me yet only registers at about 55db. I hear the humming of the fans and electronic equipment like our refrigerator that most people never hear. When we get hit with the occasional black out everyone I know says it sounds weird and that’s because they can’t hear the 60hz hum of the power lines like I can.
I have become what people in the recording industry refer to as a GEB [golden eared bastard] because I can hear things other people can’t. It’s a bit of a blessing and curse at the same time, but I highly suggest if you work downtown or have to take public transportation on a regular basis that you try wearing earplugs for a month and see if you don’t start to hear better. Better yet, if you have a smart phone download a decibel meter app. I got mine for 99¢ test it everywhere. Trust me you’ll be surprised.