I’ve been reading a lot lately of the war between taxi drivers and those who drive for TNC’s [that’s the new name for ride sharing companies such as Sidecar, Uber & Lyft]. Actually, it’s not so much a war between the two as it is taxi drivers voicing their anger to just about anyone in the media who will listen. This is were is starts to get interesting.
The reality of the situation is that the cabbies should be looking at the system they’re operating in and quite a few have started. Approximately one third of all taxi drivers have stopped leasing cabs and started using their own cars with TNC’s, mostly Uber, because they are well known and offer the chance for them to make more money through Uber’s surge pricing. It’s not the TNC’s that are a problem, it’s the cab companies that have to charge the drivers so much in order for them to drive the cabs.
One taxi company owner was quoted asking the question, what’s to keep me from buying a bunch of cars and running my own ride share company? Well, to be honest, nothing. There are actually several that are doing so right now. The owner wouldn’t have to purchase the exorbitant taxi medallions [$250k/car], and they wouldn’t have to provide comprehensive insurance to the drivers as they do now, but they could rent the cars out to drivers who don’t own a car and collect on what they make paying a small percentage to the driver. Cab company owners like this idea.
For the drivers, they wouldn’t have to sit down and take a 7 hour class and test [yes, it’s not a very comprehensive test and they are allowed to consult notes] and they can get started quicker with no outlay of cash from their pocket. To get serious for a moment, what cabbies are taught in the training school is minimal at best and they usually take the test right after the class so what they do after they’ve passed don’t necessarily apply to what they just learned. The cab company owners don’t like that idea.
So in the end you’ve got the cab company owners pushing the drivers telling them how bad all the TNC’s are, when in reality it’s the system that the cab drivers have to work under that is the problem. When the TNC’s started as Ride Share companies there was a lot of anger at these new drivers, but now that many cabbies are moving over to the TNC’s they might be yelling at a fellow driver that’s just decided to switch teams in an effort to make more money.
I haven’t had a cabbie yell at me in months lately and a few have actually talked to me about how they could get into the business. One thing that sets apart cabbies from TNC drivers that I think a lot of cabbies learn quickly is that they’re driving their own car and they can’t treat it like a car they’re renting for a shift. Everything is now on them to keep the car looking nice and they have to make sure the brakes are working and the shocks are in good shape, not the company owners. That’s a new way of thinking for a lot of cabbies, but if it makes them more careful drivers when they’re out on the road then everyone wins in the end.
I had the pleasure [more like displeasure] today of riding MUNI downtown. It had been awhile since I’ve had to make this trip and it was a good reminder of some things you’ll encounter on a trip downtown thanks to SFMTA.
I always new it smelled on muni. You pack a lot of people in very close together like sardines and the body warmth and sweat provides a lubricant you use to slide through the people to get on and off the trains. Today was a bit different. Now I’m used to odd smells. I’m used to some rather repulsive smells and I’m not sure how I earned this talent, but I can identify some of the most disgusting biologically created aromas known to mankind and some not so known.
This could be from a friend that stayed with me many years ago who when I was throwing out some old ground beef asked me for it. He said he’d mix it up with some stuff and feed it to the dog. By mixing it up with some stuff that meant boiling it in water and then letting it sit on the stove for a few days. Now to be honest at this point in my life I was living on my own for the first time and had lots of extra cash so aside from breakfast in the morning what was usually a bowl of cereal and an English muffin I ate out quite a bit and only noticed this odd pot on the stove one weekend.
Upon seeing this pot and pulling the top off I was allowed to experience a smell so bad that it made me gag and run to open up the windows while trying to find a place to get rid of the rotting meat. When my friend came back to the house I asked him in a rather not to polite way why he left a ball of rotting meat on the stove. His answer, It’s for the dog and dogs eat carrion. OK, somewhere this vegetarian mixed up carnivore with carrion, but I set him straight that this was not acceptable in the house and that dogs ate fresh meat, not rotting meat that was being helped along.
Well, that was the aroma that filled the train today. It was horrible and you can add to that the fact that there’s only a few tiny windows way up top that you can open that won’t really ventilate much more than the recirculated air on the trains. What was worse is that it was a warm day on muni which meant that they didn’t have air conditioning on the train, but the heat which just made the smell of rotting flesh even more pleasant when you warmed it up a bit.
Luckily I didn’t have to put up with it for too long and there was only a few people who seemed to even notice it. It was either that or rotting flesh and muni go together so well that no one was bothering to notice. The biggest problem is that the drivers are sectioned off in their front compartments with a large window on the side they can open that brings air in and pushes it out into the train so they don’t have to notice the smell of rotting flesh until it’s time for them to leave the train or get on and you’ll notice how quickly they move then.
To me it seems wrong that SFMTA doesn’t care enough to get the insides of the buses and trains cleaned so they don’t reek of a rotting human intestines [yes, there was a bit of that smell too that I remember from working as an EMT many years ago. People who need to use the muni trains and buses shouldn’t be forced to start their journey having to hold their nose or wondering how bad it’s going to smell today. Granted, I understand that public transportation is there for the public at large and not just for a privileged few. If that were true, the privileged few would take cabs or drive to work, but when you live in SF you have to find less expensive ways to get things done and it is of my opinion that having to deal with muni funk on a daily basis shouldn’t be one of them.
When i was first announced the SFMTA was going to build an offshoot of the Muni Metro that would run from near AT&T Park to outer Fisherman’s Wharf. This sounded like a great idea because you could get off at the Van Ness and Northpoint and have a short walk to Pier 39, the Wharf, a little further down to the Cannery do a little shopping, maybe drop by Ghiradelli Square next door and have a sundae then head back home. Then they said because of costs they would have to stop it at Chinatown.
Of course Chinatown. If you drop it into google most of the responses you get will be in Chinese newspapers, blogs, etc. Rose Pak is usually mentioned as well. This leaves out North Beach and the Wharf. Two high money making areas for tourists. Most tourists to Chinatown don’t spend much time since they done speak Chinese. At least at North Beach and the Wharf they speak English and a few other languages which means more money they can take out of your pocket.
Now they have been talking about the extension into North Beach. This was before the Mayoral election where most of the people running for Mayor were against a Central Subway that stopped in Chinatown. It really would have only benefitted the Chinese in San Francisco and very few others. You might get a short walk to the strip clubs on Broadway, but now they’ve found a way to move it into North Beach to support the Italian community that once lived there [a few still do, but it’s mostly hipsters now.
I would still like to see the full run of the Central Subway all the way down to Van Ness & Northpoint because it would help people who live out there commute downtown as well as a greater influx of money to the city. I’ll take the stop at North Beach for now and then maybe they can extend it all the way down to the Wharf just like they did with the T. I find the Metro to be very quick and I can get downtown in about 15 minutes, so why not speed things up to get people down to the wharf? As it is right now, from where I live to get to the wharf I need to take two buses and a short ride on the Metro. That usually takes me over an hour to get there. We rarely drive as parking is steep and hard to find. If we could hop on a Metro and get there in about an half hour instead of the over an hour it takes now I’d be all for it. We should be serving the entire city, not a small part of the city.
I haven’t really had to ride Muni much in over three years. In the past three years most of my jobs have been work from home or drive from home jobs, so aside from the rare occurrence I apparently have been lucky. I used to hop on the 48 Quintara which is the only reliable bus in the city, get off at West Portal and hop on any metro train to go downtown. Sure there were a few grumpy faces, but for the most part all was good.
Well things have changed. Now things are fine until you get off somewhere downtown and getting out of the station is like running the gauntlet. I’ve heard about people being shot in the stations, one guy was stabbed in the head, then there is the crazy women who walks around in a heavy coat talking to no one who is interested in listening to her yell things like, I know why we have an AIDS crisis and nobody else does. It’s because we have people f*cking in the mouth! Nice morning commentary Gretchen Carlson.
If you’re traveling on the cheap to San Francisco you don’t rent a car you take the bus everywhere. When I took a trip to London I didn’t rent a car, I took the metro and it was pleasant. Did you know they have ice cream dispensers in most of the tube stops? When I was in NY, pre clean up, the trains while having a few shifty looking characters on them ignored you if you ignored them. We like to show everyone that we’re at the forefront, so why can’t we with Muni?
If you need to get anywhere fast you take the metro. From the Sunset District if you try and take a bus downtown you will definitely take twice as long as the metro and your entire ride will be accompanied by eau de urine. This is what we don’t want the visiting tourists to see. People not of San Francisco like to call us smug, but how can we be smug when our public transportation sucks so bad?
OK, we’ve got the cable cars and F line. Those are more kitschy tourist attractions than something very many people use to get to work and they run on their own tracks. We have new metro cars, but our buses haven’t changed much over the years. We had a few testing free wifi, but I haven’t seen those in about five years. The metro when it goes underground needs cell and wifi service. San Francisco needs to move forward, not at a standstill or move backwards. We are one of the top tourist cities in the world, but how many people come back more than once that aren’t driving? Also shouldn’t we make it safe for those of use who have to commute to work? Muni needs a major overhaul and it needs it now.
I have to admit that I haven’t had to take Muni on a regular basis in almost three years and now that it’s back in my life because of work I don’t like what I see. While for me it’s rather efficient, it’s the way it takes you from one place to another is what bothers me.
I have to take the 48 Quintara to whatever metro will get me to Civic Center and then board the 19 Polk towards Hunters Point to get me out to the Potrero Hill area. It’s takes about 45 minutes which is good considering, but there are a few things that I encounter along the way that I don’t like.
- People need to bathe more often. The stench on Muni now is unbelievable. People seem to me like they bathe maybe once a week if that and you’re lucky if they shave once a month.
- Why do y’alls have to be so loud. If you’re talking to a person next to you there’s no reason to exceed 100 db even if the bus or metro is loud.
- Driving apparently is no longer a required skill to navigate a bus. There is this kind of fascinating experience when you get stuck standing or are not sitting in a front facing position I can only call the air hump. It’s the constant gas to brake ratio that literally makes you look like you’re having sex with the air. It is an annoying feeling to have to spend 45 minutes humping the air in front of you and is especially creepy if it’s a crowded bus.
- People who ride Muni now are rude. I was yelled at a week ago by a girl because in trying to see if I could get 3G access on the Metro [you can’t except for Castro station or BART] I held up my phone in a somewhat vertical manner and she yelled at me to not take a picture of her. I really didn’t have an interest in taking a picture of her and if I really did I would have used a decent line and asked her so she’d remember me. So now I am a dirty old man for holding up my phone on the Metro. Also most people on Muni have a frown on their face.
- The buses and Metro generally need work on them. This is something that’s been mentioned in numerous articles before, but part of the bad driving by people is because the buses are older and need work. I’m sure this would help with the air humping action as well as the frowns on everyone’s face.
- The Clipper Card is still a mystery. When I have it filled and tap it, it sometimes beeps once or sometimes twice. I have no idea what either one means and there was one time when I got on and tapped it and it turned out it wasn’t loaded, but no one seemed to care until I tried to transfer and they were checking the cards. I will continue to claim that I didn’t know if they check my card on any bus trip and I figure that should go over well because they need a machine to tell whether or not your card is valid and there’s nothing that tells you whether it’s valid or not.
If my family had two cars this wouldn’t be a problem as parking where I work is easy. Hell, it’s even free for me, but I can’t leave my wife without a car for the better part of day because she starts to get cabin fever after a couple of days. What would be the best for me was if I could just spend all my time in the Sunset and only have to run out of the house for little trips around the neighborhood, but you know, like all of you, we need jobs to work and there ain’t no one looking for web designers and code monkeys in the Sunset…yet. If you are, contact me immediately.
I had to take a trip downtown the other day and started thinking about some of the jobs I used to have down in the financial district before I had my iPhone. Mobile devices don’t work in the tunnel once the train starts in past West Portal station. They barely even work inside the open air station for some reason, but more importantly it can take you 20-30 minutes to get from West Portal to the Embarcadero and you don’t have access to the outside world from the inside.
You can’t make phone calls which some people appreciate because of the thick concrete and you can barely get 3G/4G service at a couple of stations and that’s only for about a minute. I think it’s time that SFMTA installed Wi-FI or at least allow 3G/4G access while in the tunnel. There are a couple of reasons for this idea that I like.
First, it eliminates the need for big bulky newspapers. I always hated people sitting next to me stretching out their hands reading the morning paper on a crowded streetcar or the occasional elbow as a person flips a page of a book they’re reading. With a mobile device you have a much better confined reading space that fits with a crowded streetcar better than paper.
The second is that some people like to use social media apps or read their email or stay connected to their place of work in case something comes up on the way in. It’s really sad to me that I am more connected hopping a 48 Quintara to the Mission than I am on a streetcar going to the financial district.
There’s lots of things you can do to occupy yourself with a mobile device to kill the time, especially when the driver tells you there’s a delay and you’ll have to wait. Most of the apps though require a hook up to the internet to get you the information you was to use. Happy passengers aren’t grumpy and crazy. If I’m stuck by a delay and find out that after 45 minutes on the train that my wife was in a car accident or something happened to my daughter that would be bad, very bad.
BART understands this and I wrote about this previously. I hoped BART one day at Embarcadero and happened to notice as I hit the tunnel under the bay, that I could hook up for free to BART’s wi-fi service. The trip was almost an hour and the entire way I was surfing the web, sending emails, made a couple of calls just fine. I even had a cell phone signal under the bay. This leads to more productivity for some people or just happier riders for the less productive who just want to hop on in their trip from one part of town to another and watch a TV show on Hulu or Netflix. It would give them a chance to tune out the crazies or people who talk too loud to the person sitting next to them. Now we just have to figure out who’s job we would have to cut to make that happen. Maybe a marketing director or two since you wouldn’t need them if they made the trip more pleasant.
This one has been on my mind for some time and after checking the route of the 66 Quintara bus. I think it’s time to put it out of commission. It is the shortest bus route beating the old winner the 37 Corbett and runs from 30th and Vicente to 9th and Judah now. If you need to get anywhere along that route there are other buses that can serve the need in a better way.
There was talk some time ago of making the 48 Quintara run all day and not just during rush hours which I have been in favor of since I first heard it. I have to note that I do live on a street where the 48 Quintara stops at my corner, but the 66 Quintara is only a couple of blocks away and I have had a reason to ride it in over 30 years. When I do see the 66 there’s hardly anyone on it in either direction so it’s not filling a need for riders. It used to have a longer run and my Grandmother who used to work as the secretary to the Dean of Medicine at UCSF used to take it to get to work every day. When I was a kid I used to take it with her to go to the swimming and trampoline lessons I was taking at UCSF, but it doesn’t go that far anymore. I believe it used to run down Parnassus and then somehow mysteriously continued to downtown, but it’s been so long I can’t remember anymore.
I’ve ridden the 48 to get the West Portal and have even had to ride it down to the Mission a few times. It’s interesting how it will be packed until West Portal and then it empties out [except for the few kids staying on to go to McAteer High School] and stays empty until you start to get close to 24th Street when all the Mission hipsters get on and most dump out at 24th and Mission. This is a well used route that could use more service. Work is no longer a 9-5 sort of thing. My last two jobs I would sometimes have to go in at 10-12 to start work so I’d have to walk down to Taraval and hop on the L. Granted four blocks isn’t a lot [it’s actually equal to .32 miles], but the 48 is one of the most ruthlessly on time buses coming every 10 minutes with very little variance. I can get down to 4th & Mission in about a half hour for a bus in San Francisco, that’s impressive.
The 66 has done it’s time, but I think it’s time to move those drivers over to the 48 line and lay the 66 to rest and make the 48 full time, or maybe they could move a couple of drivers over the 29 Sunset so that you don’t have to wait a half hour during rush hour to get one.
For a short period of time I had to take the 48 Quintara down to the Mission on a daily basis. I found it actually a relaxing and interesting trip that I wrote about previously as I could sit there with my iPhone and read my email and get constant updates on what was going on along with all the other riders because of the 3G access we all had, but if you like the other thousands of riders who have to take the metro downtown you’re out of luck.
There’s no signal in the tunnels at all. Granted, traveling from West Portal to Embarcadero can be rather quick, but it leaves you with unproductive downtime where if there was an emergency at home I couldn’t even get a phone call in most cases for 45 minutes. On the other hand, BART when I got on one day politely asked me if I’d like to connect to their free wifi service. Hell even going through the bay tunnel I could make cell phone calls. Why isn’t San Francisco looking into this?
There was a time a couple of years ago where I saw buses in San Francisco touting free wifi service they were testing out. You don’t see those today. In a city that says it’s so tech friendly I would expect wifi to be everywhere and available. Well, it is pretty much everywhere, but not always available. There was a plan at one time to make wifi available throughout San Francisco, but it never took hold. Couldn’t we at least find a way to first make wifi available in the metro tunnel running downtown and then making it available on the buses? It would make the need for 3g/4g data plans almost superfluous and give everyone with a smartphone/tablet computer access to the internet while they have to sit during their commute. Most people complain about how slow Muni is, but if you had something to do during the time you were waiting you wouldn’t notice it so much.
Hell, if I could watch Indiana Jones while I was stuck in the tunnels for two hours I wouldn’t mind the wait as much.
Well I have to say it’s been a couple of months since I’ve had to take Muni and now I have something to compare it to and I have to say that I have to side with Greg Dewar of NJudah Chronicles on the sad state of Muni.
I have a job in Mill Valley, California. I have roughly 12 miles to travel to work by car and I can drive from the Sunset District to Mill Valley in about 20 minutes. When I went to the SF Weekly awards last Friday I drove up and parked at West Portal station to get the quick route downtown to Montgomery station. Total travel time…35 minutes, total distance, less than 5 miles.
I don’t understand how a metro service that is located underground and with no traffic interference would take longer than getting in a car to cross the Golden Gate Bridge where there is traffic and narrow lanes and tourists that don’t know the area so they drive at the speed limit or less sometimes. I have previously written about my hatred of crossing bridges in San Francisco because it was easy to get out of the city, but hard to get back. That mostly applies to the Bay Bridge. The Golden Gate is a pleasure to drive in comparison.
To take a cab downtown equals about the same time as it does for me to drive to Marin. It’ll cost you more, but if you’ve got to get somewhere quickly why is it a car does it better than a Mass Transit System? Isn’t the idea behind a Mass Transit System is that it does a better job of moving people from point A to point B more quickly and efficiently than a gas guzzling car?
You also have to remember that we’re talking about a subway system here and not buses. If you had to take a bus from point A to point B it would take you at least an hour.
Muni has been in the papers lately due to the fact that they’re paying their people a lot of money, but not delivering a good on time rate. Then there is the Central Subway debate that is supposed to run from King St. to Chinatown [which to be honest, I used to walk from Market St. when I worked at 500 Washington St in about 15 minutes.] It was originally supposed to run from King St.. to Fisherman’s Wharf and then cut back to North Beach which would make more sense as you would have gotten more tourist dollars into city coffers instead of running from Market St. to a ten square block small area of the city. I honestly can’t be in favor of any expansion of Muni lines at this point in time until they can get it right with what they already have.
I’d really like to know who’s brilliant idea this was. The picture here is across the street from my house. Originally these two houses had done something that a few people were into doing many years ago.
They’d have the curb removed so that the front of their house was all driveway. That way only THEY could park in front of their house or as was the case with the house on the left they used to park two cars in front of their house because they didn’t have any grass to deal with.
So close to two months ago some work crews come out that I suppose were from the city, but their signs had just about every department that uses these road signs set up to put the curbs back. Why? To make more parking spots available. What they ended up doing is taking a month to do the work giving us no more parking in front and not giving access to the driveways of the homeowners. Hell, I even saw them hooking up hoses to one of the houses outside water faucets and helping themselves to the water.
So once they finish a couple of days go by and they’re back again only this time tearing up the street and then blocking off the parking spaces they’ve just re-established. They worked for about two hours doing this and haven’t been back since, yet they’re still blocking off the parking places and originally had the police “do not cross” tape tied across the length of the row of road signs thereby not giving the homeowners access to their driveways. This has been set up like this for three weeks. I was happy though to see that people had pulled down the “do not cross” tape.
Now this wouldn’t bother me so much except that today I was taking a drive and noticed street workers fixing the roads all along Monterey Blvd [which for some reason they always seem to have road crews there]. There are also road crews set up on Bosworth when you’re going over Twin Peaks and there’s even a set up, but with no workers on Sloat Blvd. I’m just wishing that they could make all of our lives hell for a week and just push and redo everything then leave us alone for the next few years. I have no idea who’s responsible down at City Hall for this, but they need to take a good hard look at how they do things and begin to finish what they’ve started.
ED’s Note: As of today they showed up and simply repaved over what they ripped out. I never saw any reason for it, but I guess they know something I don’t.