EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Transport | Baghdad By The Bay - Part 2

Posts Tagged 'transport'

Sidecar In The City

Get Sidecar...Apparently there’s more problems in San Francisco than just Muni. It turns out that I was wrong and that there are lots of people who like to take cabs, but they have trouble getting one or getting one to take them where they need to go — enter Sidecar.

I’ve actually started driving for Sidecar mostly because it seemed like an easy way to get some extra money in my free time. It has been a good thing and I’ve learned a lot since I’ve started driving for them. First is that getting a cab in San Francisco is really difficult depending on where you live. Most of the cabbies only want to be in high traffic areas so places like the Sunset and Richmond will get you thrown out of a cab quick style. There really isn’t anything you can do about this, except call and hope you’ll get someone. If you hop in a cab downtown and tell them you’re going to the Sunset or Richmond be prepared to get thrown out quickly because they usually can’t get anyone to drive back to the high traffic areas they like.

Then you’ve got surly cab drivers. I’ll admit it’s been awhile since I took a cab in San Francisco, but I always remember they always looked and sounded grumpy. On top of that they would try and pull their tip out at the end before you could figure how how much you wanted to give them sometimes tipping themselves 50% of your fare.

Well Sidecar doesn’t work that way. You’ll need an iPhone or Android phone and download the app which uses GPS to tell the driver where you are [it gives them more info than that, but it’s based on your GPS co-ordinates]. You ask for a Sidecar and you tell it where you need to go and then all the drivers in the area are notified that you need a ride. Someone will pick up the call and come get you. There will be a suggested donation for the ride. All rides are done through donation and not a fare like a cab because that comes under a different set of rules then. Once the car gets there you hop in and they drive you to where you want to go. At the end when the driver closes out the ride on their phone you can pay then with your iPhone based on the suggested donation. You can add more for a tip or less if you like and I’ll get into that in a minute or two. People who drive Sidecars can be identified by the bright orange MOX [mirror socks] that are on their rearview mirrors. Much more discrete than the big pink moustache that Lyft drivers have to use and there’s no requisite fist bump when they pick you up [really? who’s douchebag idea was that?]

Now in the time I’ve been driving I had to say that I’ve met a lot of really fun people. No one creepy and almost all of them were happy that I was able to get to them so quickly. They’ve been all over the map from 20’s to 50’s and students to doctors so they’ve been a very interesting group of people to talk to. They always seem to like when I tell them that I’m born and raised in San Francisco and I usually hand them a card for this blog so if any of those people are reading this HI!

Now there’s a few things I’d like to suggest to anyone who uses Sidecar for a ride.

  1. The drivers only make 80% of what you pay them keep that in mind.
  2. I strongly suggest you at least pay the suggested fare and if within your means add a small tip. We appreciate it.
  3. Don’t pay less than the suggested amount. I’ve got a couple of friends who have been paid 80% under what was suggested and that sucks because the 80% is figured after the 20% is removed so it’s more like they paid 90-95% under.
  4. Don’t ever pay $0. Drivers can block you if you don’t pay or undercut the suggested price too much and if you start to collect blocks you’ll be banned from the system [it’s 3-5 to get blocked depending on who you talk to] because the idea behind it is that it’s a community of drivers and people who want to get some where not people you get to stiff for a free ride.
  5. If you need to pay less because you’re short on cash then you should think about taking the bus or at least tell the driver and try to keep the deduction at no more than 25%.
  6. Don’t wait forever to make the donation. If you don’t pay right away you’ll get a text in 24 hours and if you don’t pay then you’ll be charged the suggested fare. You have to keep in mind that the drivers don’t get their money for six days after you’ve paid so waiting a couple of days to pay is kind of bad form. Please try to pay within a couple of hours of your trip.

The drivers have to keep up their cars and pay for the gas and if you haven’t heard gas is getting expensive. I did use Sidecar as a passenger the other day and told the girl who drove me I was a driver and that I wouldn’t stiff her and even told her how much I was going to pay. My drive from the Outer Sunset to Inner Richmond was suggested at $17 and I paid her $20. She gets $16 of that. I think I made her very happy.

I’ll keep doing this for awhile because with Sidecar it’s cheaper than a cab for most people and when I want to drive people I run the app and get ready to hop in my car. I don’t have any schedules so I get to drive whenever I get free time and I drive a few hours every day. At the very least it got me to wash my car and I recharged the air conditioning today so it feels like I’ve got a new car once again. It’s also easy to move stuff around when I don’t have piles of empty McDonald’s bags in the back from my daughter anymore.

Oh and if you’ve never used Sidecar and want to give it a try you can enter the promo code EventuallyEric and get a $10 credit to make it cheaper for you the first time. I even made a little sign I put in my car.

WiFI Sí! Metro No!

We got tech. Wait, they cancelled these?Not the catchiest headline, but it’s early and it’s still better than what you find in the paper here in the City. I’ve written about this once before and I was happy to see that sfgate.com finally picked up on it. The Metro tunnels still have no wifi service even though most of the people who live and work in San Francisco use them to get to work.

Chances are pretty good if you work in San Francisco you will have to take a metro train at some point on your way to work. This is the dead zone for cellphone and data reception. There were numerous times where I would hop on at Montgomery and get off at West Portal and while waiting for the 48 bus would check my phone to see a message was left telling me that they needed me back at work immediately! I note this was always poor planning on the part of the companies I worked for and most of them are out of business now.

If there was cellular service or data service available in the metro tunnels I would have pulled out my iPhone and been surfing the web and saw that I was receiving a call. Business people I’ve noticed love iPhones, but keep the ringers turned off so their butts don’t sound like they’re playing video games and because of this it’s easy to miss a call if you aren’t looking at the phone. There’s the vibration to alert you, but that has caused people to develop phantom vibration syndrome where your butt or chest sends messages to your brain that you’re receiving a call because the nerves that sense the buzz fire off even though there’s no phone there which means you tend to ignore the buzz. If you’re really hip you turn the vibrate off and then you won’t notice the call for a couple of days.

Such is life in San Francisco where we are trying to attract more and more tech companies to a town where technology doesn’t work on our transit system. This is like trying to attract dairy farmers to a town that’s made it illegal to have cows. Metro needs to get it’s act together and maybe some of the tech people will drop a dime or a million to help us out. They’ve already installed their own bus system which is more upscale and efficient than Muni so why not save some money and help out our local transit system?

The next step once the wifi is in place would be to redo the metro trains to be more suited to the laptop/iPad/tablet crowd. Maybe they could have little flip up tables that passengers could rest their devices on. This would especially be good when your train stops in the middle of the tunnel for 10 minutes to a half hour due to delays and you’re dead in the water. Muni has never been a very enjoyable ride for most people. This is probably why so many people pop in headphones and close their eyes. I see this and think that every person doing this has the phrase, there’s no place like home repeating in their head until it’s time to get off. I tend to agree that there is no place like home and if you get to look at the same screen on your way to work as you do at home that there is a connection that makes life more livable for you.

For awhile I had to take only a bus to work out in the Potrero [actually it was three buses to get there and took me over an hour to get to work as opposed to the 40 minutes to get downtown] and I had service the entire way. It gave me a great way to kill time and I actually stopped getting the newspaper because I could read it for free on the trip into work. It was a bit on the leisurely side of things and I thought about how maybe it would be good if I took the 48 down to 24th and Mission and then hopped on BART where I would be able to get downtown without losing signal, but that would add time to my journey. Besides that, the Mission District is still a high crime area. If you don’t believe me click on the link and type 94110 in and then type in 94116, 94122, 94121, 94118 afterwards. Leaving out the Mission Hipsters, the Sunset and Richmond Districts are were most of the people in San Francisco live who work downtown and specifically in the Sunset District [the largest neighborhood in the city] you’ve got to hop on a train to get there.

I seriously think it’s time for the city to get into the 21st century and get wifi in the tunnels. Some people like being disconnected from technology in the tunnels and that’s fine. You can turn off the ringer and vibration and have a nice conversation with the homeless guy telling you Elvis is alive and living as a black man to occupy your time on your trip to work. Today’s story is dedicated Greg Dewar of N-Judah Chronicles who does a much better job at pointing out the flaws of muni than I do.

My Thoughts On The Central Subway

Central SubwayWhen 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.

Why I Dislike Muni

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Ditch The 66

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.