Why can Uber and Lyft use city streets for free?

Data suggests that the companies not only clog the streets -- they take money from Muni. Why don't they have to pay a franchise fee?

When San Francisco news media reported on a blockbuster study showing the impacts of Uber and Lyft on San Francisco transportation and traffic, Sup. Aaron Peskin said the data was “shocking.”

That’s an understatement: The report shows that drivers for the two services clock 570,000 miles a day, making more than 170,000 trips. This has a huge impact on traffic in the city (and anything that has an impact on traffic has an impact on Muni).

Uber driver blocks the bike lane on Valencia
Uber driver blocks the bike lane on Valencia

Then I got the following statement from state Sen. Scott Wiener:

Sacramento –  Today, Senator Scott Wiener (D- San Francisco) released the following statement on the release of a study authored by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority about the volume of trips by ride-hailing services in San Francisco:

 “These numbers confirm what we see every day on our streets: that ride-hailing services have grown to become a significant part of our overall transportation network. These services, while certainly having impacts, provide significant benefits as well. They allow people to live without cars, or at least to drive cars less. They lead to fewer people circling for parking. And, they addressed the critical taxi shortage our city faced for so many years – a shortage so stark that no one could ever rely on getting a taxi when they needed one.

 We need to do more to address the impacts of these services, including double parking and other traffic issues. And, we also need to understand the issue more broadly before making significant policy decisions that could undermine the availability of these services. For example, how many of these 170,000 vehicle trips replaced preexisting trips as people chose to use ride hails instead of driving their own vehicles? How many people would go back to using private autos if the ride hail services became less available? It’s important to look at the big picture.

 In assessing the benefits and impacts of ride hail services, we also need to avoid blaming these services for San Francisco’s congestion problems. While ride hail vehicles contribute to congestion, so do the many hundreds of thousands of non-ride-hail vehicles that drive through our city. The reality is that San Francisco has grown tremendously, in terms of population, jobs, and overall economic activity. We simply have more people, workers, visitors, and vehicles in our city. And, ride hails are, by no stretch, the only vehicles that double park.

That was another stunner, although I shouldn’t be surprised by it. Wiener is one of those Democrats who believes that the private market offers better solutions than the public sector, and this is one example.

In fact, the discussion over Uber and Lyft just further illustrates the divide in San Francisco politics, which in some ways mirrors the divide in national Democratic Party politics, between people who believe the private market will solve our problems and people who believe that private-sector solutions are exactly what have gotten us into this economic mess.

Here’s where Wiener and I disagree: I don’t think that most of those 170,000 trips replaced trips that people would otherwise have taken in private vehicles – and I think the data shows I’m right.

I think many, if not most of those trips were taken on Uber or Lyft instead of Muni.

This private, locally unregulated and untaxed taxi system is not getting people out of their cars. It’s getting them off public transit.

I have two teenagers, and my teenagers have teenage friends, and I spend a fair amount of time with young folks who travel around the city a lot, who used to take Muni everywhere – and now they take Uber or Lyft instead.

Five guys are hanging out at Dolores Park. Most of them are over 18, and don’t get youth bus fares. They want to go to the Haight. Muni is a fairly easy solution – at $2.25 a person. But if they all pack into an Uber, they can get there in a private car for about the same price. We’re not talking rich kids here; this is how the young people who have part-time jobs and a little pocket money spend it.

And clearly a lot of people will more money to spend have decided to abandon Muni for Uber and Lyft.

Then let’s look at the visualizations of where the Uber and Lyft rides are.

The data that the city put out has been compiled into a number of maps, and they all show the same thing: The vast, vast majority of the Uber and Lyft trips begin and end north of Cesar Chavez and east of Divisadero, and most of those are downtown. The areas that these trips begin and end are the parts of the city that are best served by public transit – and that are already the most congested.

I don’t know anyone who drives a private car on a regular basis into the downtown core. It’s nuts – the traffic is horrible and there’s no place to park. Those Uber and Lyft trips aren’t, I would hazard a guess, replacing people who decided not to drive, or who would be circling looking for a parking space. They are replacing people who would have taken Muni or BART.

Now let’s look at some Muni numbers.

In 2012-2013, five years ago, Muni averaged 68,000 riders a day. This year, it’s up to 71,000. That’s an increase of about 4 percent. (Paul Rose, Muni spokesperson, says if you go back to 2011, the increase is about 8 percent.)

In that same period, the population of San Francisco has increased by about 10 percent – and the daytime population is up even more.

Logically, Muni ridership should be up a lot more than it is.

Meanwhile, the number of cars registered in the city, according to DMV data, is up by 23,000. And by most accounts, when you include the Uber and Lyft drivers who commute here to drive shifts, the number is closer to 45,000.

Rose tells me

While San Francisco is the epicenter of all emerging transportation services, the impacts have had very little impact on Muni’s ridership. We don’t have specific TNC data to determine their service levels and impacts on transportation.  However, based on a “Transportation Decision Survey” from 2015, 24 percent of all trips in San Francisco are made by transit. That number is up from 23 percent back in 2012.

Okay. But there are a lot more trips – and the number that go to Uber and Lyft has to be increasing. There’s no other way to interpret this data.

 

The way the fans of modern market-based economics see it, that’s just fine. This is a new option, something that tech entrepreneurs created. We should encourage it, or at the very least leave it alone.

But the market, as we see every day, doesn’t tend to cover its own impacts. In San Francisco, developers of market-rate housing don’t pay for the impacts they create on housing, transportation, and city services. Office developers don’t pay for the additional demands on Muni service that their buildings create.

And Uber and Lyft don’t pay for the damage they have done to the city.

For starters: Congestion hurts Muni. Most of the city’s transit lines, sadly, are above ground. If you ask transportation experts why Muni is so slow, the first answer they will give is: Traffic.

Lots of people say that Muni is so shoddy they have to take private cars. But the main reason Muni isn’t better is that too many people take private cars on the streets. You want faster Muni? Reduce private car traffic.

The red-carpet lanes on Mission Street prove the point. Once the city banned cars from a normally congested part of a key Muni line, the travel times got faster, the service better. That’s the idea behind bus rapid transit on Van Ness and Geary: Get the cars out of the way, and the buses go a lot faster.

But Uber and Lyft encourage cars on the street, a lot of them, and most of them are in an area that is central to the city’s transportation network. You simply can’t deny that Uber and Lyft are adding to the congestion on San Francisco streets.

Take a walk down Valencia Street on a Friday night. Dozens of Ubers and Lyfts block the bike lanes, forcing bicyclists into traffic, slowing down traffic to a crawl.

There are just too many of these cars on the streets.

They’re also, almost certainly, taking riders (and thus money) away from Muni. San Francisco’s transit-first policy (which Scott Wiener has always said he supported) is not about getting people out of one type of car and into another; it’s about getting people out of cars altogether.

So two companies that slow down Muni and take away its customers (and thus some of the revenue it could use to improve service) pay the city how much?

Um, nothing.

At least taxi drivers have to pay for a city permit. Uber and Lyft use city streets to make money, put costs on the taxpayers, and pay zero.

Sup. Jane Kim is talking about a modest charge per ride. There’s another way to do it, possibly: Charge the companies a franchise fee.

I hear this idea from Potrero Hill activist Tony Kelly, who is a font of great ideas. We charge Comcast, AT&T and PG&E money for the right to run their cables under city streets. Why don’t Uber and Lyft have to pay a fee for the right to use the city streets for profit?

Why not do a nexus study that looks at all the costs these companies put on the city, and make them pay for it?

Can anybody tell me why this is a bad idea?

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Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
  • Kyle Huey

    Plenty of other people “use city streets to make money”. Any delivery company (and boy do they love to double park), repairmen who drive to customer sites, heck even people who are commuting to work. Why shouldn’t they have to pay too? The city should impose a congestion charge a la London.

    Valencia Street has a different problem, it needs a lot less parking and more loading zones (and redesigned bike lanes that are not between traffic and the curb.

    • Geek__Girl

      Imagine if UPS delivered packages by having one driver take no more than 3-4 packages, usually only one, and then drive around waiting for his next package(s). That is Uber.

  • Ragazzu

    I’m waiting to see what happens when Amazon turns all its Whole Foods stores into food delivery hubs. Supes, are you on this?

  • FunnyBecauseItsTrue

    1) all cars create traffic, why not levy a congestion fee on all private traffic in hotspots? London and Paris both do this. This would make a huge impact to making muni run faster

    2) why not fine/cite for bad behavior, put some cameras/etc up on Valencia and snap a pic whenever an Uber is in a bike lane.

    3) I fail to see how making a tax on a per ride basis does anything to address the bad behaviors of drivers that we want to change

    This seems poorly thought out and reactionary.

    • curiousKulak

      Yes. Kims “fee” is not going to change any behavior, though it might bring in a little dough (hopefully enuf to cover the cost of collecting it).

      What I’d like to see is some highly visible mechanism – like a flashing roof “bubble gum” lite – (what color would be a good question) – so that one can tell that the vehicle up ahead is prone to do sudden and stupid maneuvers (like pulling a 180 across a Double Yellow line, or stopping in a bike lane without flashers). Taxis already have their roof ligh. And a removable one for Uber/Lyft that could be placed on the roof when they are trolling would be v helpful.

      Not using the new light could be cause for big fine, which I assume the City could keep all that revenue. This might provoke the cops to start doing a bit of enforcement; safe enuf cuz most of those cars have the little sticker in the window.

    • Don Sebastopol

      From what I have read from studies in London there was an immediate impact on congestion but it returned.

      When the BART fare went up there was a decrease in ridership that went back up. When there was a large increase in gas prices there were fewer cars but they returned. It would seem that after the sticker shock wears off, people adjust. Also, what about the impact of the congestion fee on low-income people?

      • FunnyBecauseItsTrue

        Or maybe there’s more people commuting in general and that’s why usage increases. Additionally, the Bart fares are not meant to relieve Bart of crowding, they’re meant to raise funds for Bart to use. Congestion fees as implemented in London/Paris are 15~35 dollars per day, which is sufficiently puntative to discourage unnecessary vehicle travel, most trips are business related (delivery, on sight service workers like plumbers etc) and not commute related. There is a price at which people will stop driving. The idea that driving a car in Soma/FiDi (nhoods where fees should be levied) is necessary (unless you’re disabled) is simple not true. Commuting/parking in those nhoods is a luxury and should be treated as such.

        • Don Sebastopol

          I can’t find the study I recall, but it is true that maturation is a problem with before and after studies. As I recall they used other areas of London for comparison. And they measured the traffic in the areas immediately outside the congestion pricing area.

          I would guess there is a price where people will stop coming. As I recall the business also changed to higher end stores. Stores that served the proletariat moved out. But then again, the riffraff may have been leaving anyway without congestion pricing.

          • FunnyBecauseItsTrue

            Congestion pricing has definitely reduced vehicle usage. Looking at Paris, the city has significantly less smog than they had 5 years ago. Tokyo doesn’t have congestion pricing per se, but owning a car there is very expensive. Thus, the only people who own vehicles are either very rich and use them as a luxury, or they run a business (delivery, plumbing, etc) that depends on vehicle usage, and the cost of vehicle ownership is priced into what they charge for service. The streets in tokyo are not congested, at all.

            Back to the matter at hand, I fail to see how charging uber 20c/ride is going to reduce congestion, or get ubers out of bike lanes.

      • Geek__Girl

        Ah, but to the Uber and Lyft crowd, low-income people have no right to even exist.

        • Don Sebastopol

          I thought Uber will serve anyone who pays the fare. What does no right to exit mean?

          • Geek__Girl

            Actually, no, and I have no idea what does “no right to exit mean?” other than being on a control access highway. No right to EXIST means that such people think that the poor should simply go away, disappear, move elsewhere, stop reproducing, etc.

    • Geek__Girl

      How is it reactionary? Taxis have to have a medallion, which costs thousands. Uber and Lyft simply sign up drivers, give them a sticker, and have them start driving. It costs quite a bit to become a cab driver. There is school, thorough background checks, application fees, etc. Making Uber and Lyft pay seems quite reasonable.

      • FunnyBecauseItsTrue

        Taxi medallions are a transfer of wealth from consumers (people who need transit in cities) to medallion owners, who are rarely, if ever, the driver themself. The vast majority of taxi medallions in the US, and around the world, are owned by financial services companies/Private Equity firms, and leased to cab companies. Tell me again why we should transfer money to large private equity shops that own taxi medallions?

        • Geek__Girl

          Really? I don’t know what the situation is elsewhere, but here is a link to the official list of medallion holders in San Francisco. With the exception of a few cab companies, the overwhelming majority are individuals. A few are owned by individuals under what are obviously a corporation they have formed. I fear you are either badly misinformed, or you are trying, rather badly, to misinform.

  • curiousKulak

    How does MUNI determine its ridership numbers? By the amt of people who pay/Clipper card/Fastpass? You know there is some serious slippage there. So saying that MUNI ridership has increased slower than X is really more of a guess than anything.

    The trouble with MUNI (aside from being slow) is that its dirty, often offensive, and dangerous.

    I have no problem with a Nexus study or even a franchise fee. But you gotta wonder why Lyft works and taxis don’t. Maybe cuz taxis tend to plant themselves at hotels and airports – solving that whole ‘congestion’ problem?, but otherwise gutting the ‘service’ model – while Lyft is on-demand.

    Charge Uber for cruising and charge taxis for standing still?

    • Don Sebastopol

      I know those who avoid Muni and are willing to pay for parking downtown, even though they are not rich, because they consider Muni dirty, offensive, and dangerous. They would rather sit in traffic in the comfort and safety of their own car listening to the radio rather than squeezing into a crowed metro train, even if it is faster.

      • Porfirio666

        MUNI dirty? Dangerous? The people who say that don’t ride MUNI much. They think that mingling with the unwashed masses is icky. They should move back to the suburbs.

        • Don Sebastopol

          I have been using Muni for decades. I don’t have that problem. However, from the time I was 15 1/2 and had a car to the time I was in my 30’s I drove everywhere; parking was not a major problem until the mid 70’s even downtown. Also taking transit was considered declasse when I was young.

          The examples I am thinking were middle-aged women, some SF born and bred; they ae not going anywhere. Are you an SF native? The point is there are those who live and work in SF that avoid Muni for several reasons. You can be self righteous denigrate them if you like but they won’t take Muni.

          • Porfirio666

            “Middle-aged women, some SF born and bred.”
            –And what are they being bred for?
            The streets are crowded because too many people use cars instead of public transportation.

          • Don Sebastopol

            I guess you are not from SF if you never heard that expression. Why to too many people use cars? Why don’t more use public transportation?

          • Porfirio666

            I’ve lived here in Frisco for 18 years. Too many people use cars because they are afraid of the unwashed masses and insist on transport in their own cages. . They need to return to their SuburbiaVille roots.

          • Don Sebastopol

            I am sure there is some of that but it is not the primary reason. Most people cite the time difference and reliability. There is also convenience and comfort. Many of us don’t come from the suburbs. I’ve lived here for 75 years. Although some consider my current SF neighborhood the suburbs.

          • Geek__Girl

            What dow you think “comfort and convenience” means, except, I don’t have to rub shoulders with people who make less than me.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Comfort can mean I don’t have to rub shoulders with people who make more than me. But there may be some people who enjoy getting groped on Muni. Comfort is variable. Most of us can agree that flying first class is more comfortable than coach. However, what I found comfortable 50 years ago, I find torture today.

          • Geek__Girl

            I have friends from a variety of economic backgrounds. Up until his death, I had one friend who was named Kraft. I had no idea he was from the family that started Kraft Foods. I have another who’s father was an actor in England. And I have some that are homeless, or near homeless. Muni can be an interesting experience, but it is usually not that bad. I have ridden across town and been amused at how the people change out. You might start out in a bad part of town, with some pretty scary characters, and at the other end of the line, have an totally different set of passengers.

          • Geek__Girl

            I really don’t understand why anyone who live in SF needs a car. I have lived here almost 15 years, and I briefly owned a car for about five months. It was broken into twice (and after the second time, the rear window was broken out as well by someone too lazy to crawl over into the back). I incurred more than a few parking tickets, and it was towed because I was “blocking a driveway” (by a fraction of an inch, maybe). The same day it was towed, some cop plastered a huge sticker warning it would be towed after, I think, 72 hours. It might have looked abandoned, but it wasn’t. I let the City keep it. I had no needed a car before, and I found it more of a burden than a benefit.

          • Don Sebastopol

            I can understand why many need a car. Over 40% leave the City to get to work and many who work in the City don’t have good Muni service between home and work; Muni can take more than twice the time. A car generally means greater freedom of movement. But in a densely populated area a car can mean less freedom of movement; and can be more of a burden. Uber and Lyft may provide more alternatives to having a car. I keep my car in the garage. I often walk or take Muni but there are many situations where I need my car, or find it more convenient and comfortable.

          • Geek__Girl

            A car is an expensive thing to have here. Parking is difficult and/or expensive. Gas prices are outrageous. Yes, a car can be faster, or slower, depending on where you are at, and what time it is. I did enjoy being able to go places and see things. But it really wasn’t worth the hassle. Yeah, I could travel to the East Bay, but sitting in traffic on the Bay Bridge was a nightmare. I took a nice day trip down the Peninsula. If you have a garage your lucky. I know people who pay outrageous prices for a place to park.

            I can take Muni for most trips. When I buy groceries at the store, I can take a cab back. Even if I do that a couple of times a month, it is far cheaper than the cost of a car. And of late, I have become quite fond of Amazon Fresh. A bit cheaper on many things that Safeway, and a nice selection. And the price is comparable to taking a cab.

          • Porfirio666

            Big Don likes cars. He thinks should exercise his God-given right to travel in a cage. Traffic be damned!

          • Geek__Girl

            Yes, there are some people who think themselves “special.” This is true anywhere. Shoot, there are some people who HAVE to take a limo or town car, because anything else is beneath them.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Money can’t buy you happiness but it can buy you more space. Most people who can afford to take a town car don’t think of themselves as special. I wish I could afford to be driven around.

          • Geek__Girl

            Well, I pretty much am always driven around, whether it is with a friend, on a bus, or in a cab. I took a town car once, when I was trying to flag a cab and one pulled up and, quite illegally, offered a ride. It was obviously pricer, and it was kind of a nice experience, but not enough to justify the cost on a regular basis.

            I was a bit surprised when I first came here at how small most places are. I grew up in the suburbs, and for years, lived in a very urban part of Birmingham, in a huge apartment that would probably cost at least $8,000 a month here. Large living room, large dining room, two bedrooms, good sized kitchen, back deck, hard wood floor, high ceiling, and a fire place. Paid about $400.

            I have a friend who lives in a tiny condo at Opera Plaza. He is quite happy with it. My place now is smaller than his, but it is all I need.

        • Geek__Girl

          The people who say that are either parroting the Uber Kool-Aid, or they are, as you suggest, total snobs.

    • Geek__Girl

      Taxis have been hurt by Uber and Lyft, mainly because of predatory pricing, which will come back to bite them. Taxis seem to be carrying a lot of passengers. Some of us refuse to take Uber or Lyft.

      • passager_clandestin

        You mean the Taxi monopoly has artificially limited supply and extorted citizens with predatory pricing, thereby hurting itself? For once I agree with you!

        • Geek__Girl

          No, and you have no business making such a comment since you clearly do not know what predatory pricing means, or at least are pretending to now know. Nor, do you have any idea what a monopoly is. There was no taxi monopoly. That would exist if there was ONE taxi company serving the City. There are 24. Nope, not a monopoly at all. Taxi service is regulated by the City. And the City sets the pricing. Predatory pricing is when a company, like Uber and Lyft, artificially lower their prices in an attempt to drive competitors out of business. Uber, for example, loses money on every trip. If, for example, they succeed in driving cabs out of business, they can then charge whatever they want. In fact, their business model is not working very well, since they are losing money, which means an IPO is out of the question, and their investors are suing them for their deceptive practices.

  • playland

    Wiener is one of those Democrats who believes that the private market offers better solutions than the public sector

    In defense of Weiner, everyone who paid attention to world economics in the 2nd half of the 20th century feels the same way.

    • Do Something Nice

      Keep hanging onto that ideal. As we see more and more people pushed into poverty to keep a handful of people stinking rich, this system isn’t sustainable and it isn’t going to last very long.

      • playland

        Yes!

        And it will all be solved if more people consent to stand in urine soaked Muni stops for 25 minutes waiting for an overcrowded bus to come. Utopia.

        Have fun repeating history’s mistakes. The rest of us learned from them.

        • Do Something Nice

          It’s not either or. But those who profit from the misery of others are always quick to present it as either or.

          • playland

            But the only “misery” that Uber is benefiting from is the misery of people who are expected suffer the indignities of the state run Muni system (incessant waits, over crowded buses/trains, smells, personal safety…).

            Meanwhile someone figured out how to use 21st technology to connect people who own cars and need a few extra bucks with people who want to get somewhere on time without being assaulted in a number of ways.

            And of course the knee jerk reaction by Progressives is to nip this in the bud! Everything that uses technology developed in the past 10 years must be squashed!

          • Do Something Nice

            There’s plenty of misery. And funny you should mention being “assaulted.”

            “One of her passengers sounded like he was going to vomit in her car. She pulled over and asked the trio to leave. They refused, and then dragged her into her backseat where they started punching her. “I thought I was going to die,” she told the Guardian.

            The men eventually fled, but not before kicking the outside of her car and running off with her keys. Patterson called police and reported the incident to Uber in the hope that the company could track down her attackers and help her with medical bills. But the criminal investigation went nowhere, and Uber, she said, did little to support her. LA police did not respond to repeated inquiries.

            “A week before the incident, Patterson had signed a lease through Uber’s vehicle loan program, known as Xchange. She was required to pay weekly fees of about $146. As a result, Patterson had no choice but to keep driving for Uber, despite suffering from post-traumatic stress stemming from the attack as well damaged vision in her right eye.”

            “I just felt like I was trapped, like I was an Uber slave,” she said,
            noting that she could barely drive enough hours to make the car
            payments. Unable to keep up with her bills, she ended up living out of her leased Uber vehicle for about a month until, running of options, she moved back home to Chicago, where she fell further into debt before her car was repossessed. “It’s just been a domino effect,” she said. “It’s really ruined my life.”

            More stories here:

            https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/17/uber-drivers-homeless-assault-travis-kalanick

            Uber is slavery.

          • playland

            Uber is slavery.

            You’re right. We need to stop forcing people to drive for Uber immediately. Thanks for bringing this up. The laws should be changed so that nobody is compelled to drive for Uber.

          • Geek__Girl

            Yes, such a “brilliant” idea. Flood the streets with untrained, clueless drivers so people don’t have to mingle with the rabble. Never mind that these companies resist any effort at regulation. Mass transit helps reduce pollution, saves on fuel consumption, and reduces traffic. Uber appeals to fools who think they are special.

        • Geek__Girl

          Ah, you are either a paid shill, or you have totally swallowed the Uber Kool-Aid. Yes, and all cabs are driven by rude immigrant, and stink, and never come, and…. Uber seeks to appeal to snobbery, and makes stuff up that some people are quick to follow.

      • Don Sebastopol

        How do a handful of people stinking rich push more people into poverty?

    • MKR

      Its never that simple. Part of the reason the United States led the world in the second half of the 20th century is a workable balance between the private sector and the government. The free market alone and unregulated can lead to chaos, tyranny and oppression of individuals and the rule of law. Some of the reasons that big profitable companies chose the United States as their base is patent and copyright protection, capital market regulation and a common law system which works pretty well most of the time.
      If you think the free market without a government works the best take a look at Somalia or the Russian Federation and see how it works for the average person there. Or try printing your own money and making your own traffic lights and see how that works out for you

    • Geek__Girl

      Yes, for example for profit schools have been such a great success…no wait, there was Corinthian schools for example. And of course we all know how much better for profit prisons are…..uh, no, wait, that’s wrong also.

  • Don Sebastopol

    Maybe they should pay for a permit like taxis do.

    It would be interesting to have valid study of the impact of Uber and Lyft on transit versus car use. But even if it takes customers from Muni, so what? Shouldn’t people be free to choose? Apparently, some do choose Uber over Muni. I am guessing comfort and safety are factors.

    You may not know anyone who drives a private car on a regular basis downtown but many do. Around 40 percent of Sunset residents that work downtown, drive on a regular basis. Half the time I drive for medical appointments. From my house, the Metro underground is often just as fast for faster, but I am sometimes lazy so I drive.

    Since when has it been about getting people out of their cars altogether? I thought it was about getting from point A to point B.

    • playland

      But even if it takes customers from Muni, so what? Shouldn’t people be free to choose?

      NO!

      Not under a Soviet style political utopia.

      We also need to be ready to prevent people from getting their groceries delivered by Amazon. Just in case people prefer that service.

  • passager_clandestin

    MUNI is a paragon of incompetence that delivers a profoundly subpar experience. It is incapable of running a subway that has *one tunnel*. *One* tunnel. I took the subway for my entire middle and high school in Paris, which has hundreds and hundreds of stations, thousands of tunnels and it runs like clockwork.

    Rush hour from the Castro to downtown – 5 stations! – and you frequently have to wait 3 or 4 trains before you can squeeze in. And when you finally do, trains are backed up from before Civic Center all the way to Embarcadero. Powell and Montgomery stations are a disgrace. Elevators stink of pee, and often do not work at all. Escalators do not work. Everything is dirty. Vagrants sleep there. The only thing that is shiny and well-dressed are the fare inspectors.

    If you have *any doubt* about whether the public sector or the private sector is better able to delivery a good experience, walk through Powell station and then walk directly into the Westfield Mall. With a stroller, so that you can experience accessibility too.

    • Geek__Girl

      So, basically what you are complaining about is how successful Muni is. Yes, trains can be crowded. I doubt you ever think to contact your Supervisor or the Mayor and demand that adequate facilities be provided so people don’t HAVE to use escalators, elevators, and such as toilets. I guess you also fail to demand more shelter spaces be provided so people don’t have to sleep in stations. You are too busy looking down your nose and congratulating yourself for being above all that.

  • passager_clandestin

    Oh, it is a bad idea because Muni is not an acceptable alternative. When the city that has the highest per-capita tax rates and tax revenue in the nation is able to to provide a public transportation system that isn’t one of the worst in the nation, it can start thinking about smothering private alternatives.

    And it’s not just MUNI that sucks, it’s the roads too. The notion of charging for what are THE WORST ROADS IN THE NATION is, like much of what you write, preposterous and outrageous all at once.

    For reference: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-worst-roads-in-america-2016-11

    • Do Something Nice

      San Francisco has the highest per-capita tax rates in the nation? Citation please.

      • Geek__Girl

        Yes, that would be interesting, since we don’t….

        • passager_clandestin

          Let me google that for you. https://ballotpedia.org/Analysis_of_spending_in_America%27s_largest_cities

          Sort by expense per citizen. Exclude DC that doesn't have apples-to-apples comparison.

          And realize that 9th grade math skills and a modicum of interest in the finances of your cities would have allowed you to come to this conclusion without my help.

          The fact that neither of you have any idea this is the case disqualifies you from any further comment about city policies, in my humble opinion.

          • Geek__Girl

            Well, they must not teach the appropriate math skills in the 9th grade, since you are comparing per capita SPENDING with "per-capita tax rates." I would say that qualifies as an incredibly ignorant "apples and oranges" comparison, and is totally irrelevant.

            Now, about which of us is disqualified from further comment about city policies….

    • Geek__Girl

      Trust me, you don’t know what bad mass transit is. Here, you can easily get close to almost every address in the City, and beyond. About the only exception is Seacliff. I am originally from Birmingham, AL, where they used to have good mass transit. There, getting almost anywhere accessible by bus, requires a long trip to a central station, and changing to another bus for another long trip. And that i if the place you are trying to reach is served by a bus line. Many places are not.

      • passager_clandestin

        Dollar for dollar, I bet Birmingham's public transit is far superior.

        I've lived in Boston, New York, Paris and San Francisco for extended periods of time. San Francisco's public transit is a sad joke. Try commuting in its _1_ tunnel at 8:30 in the morning. Those jokers can't even run a _1_ tunnel operation. And then you come out to a station that is filthy, smells like urine, and has derelicts everywhere.

        Oh – and its operators are paid the second most of any agency in CA, _by contract_. (Google that before claiming it's not true, it'll save us all some time).

        • Geek__Girl

          You would lose. Birmingham's public transit service does not serve large portions of the metropolitan area. It is a county system, and it should serve a larger area than it does In fact, several years ago, the largest mall in the area was not accessible, because hey didn't want "those kind of people." Jefferson County, where Birmingham is located, operates a nursing home similar to Laguna Honda. It is not possible to get there by bus, even though it is primarily for low income patients. Also, the employees cannot take a bus to work. As I pointed out, traveling to most locations requires a long bus trip to a station downtown, and transferring to another bus for a long trip to another location. Imagine if you wanted to go from the Castro to the Haight and you had to take a bus to the downtown terminal, and switch to another bus to get to the Haight. Absurd. More often than not, a trip in Birmingham requires one to travel much further than the distance between the two locations.

          And I am sorry that a precious snowflake like you has to be offended by the fact that poor people actually have the unmitigated gall to exist in this City. And given that we have one of the most, if not the most, expensive cost of living, in the country, it makes sense that employees would be paid more. Now, if, say Birmingham paid its drivers as well as we do, you would have a complaint. But keep in mind, you are complaining that the drivers make enough to actually live on.

  • sebra leaves

    If SFMTA wants to eliminate congestion they can return the pubic streets to traffic and remove all the parking restrictions to allow the traffic to flow again. The out of town car-shares that are driving in to drive will disappear from the regional traffic and the people who want to park their cars to take the Muni can do so the way they used to instead of re-parking their cars all day.

    The plan to remove cars from the city is a disaster and someone at City Hall should quit pretending like there is progress and improvement. The only progress being made is in tearing up our streets and hiring too many high-paid consultants and contractors to spend the money that should go into operating and maintaining the Muni system.

    Take a look the staff and salaries of SFMTA employees who are not involved in Muni operations and maintenance and figure out where the billion dollars for SFMTA is going.

  • Christina

    Uber needs to be regulated just like the taxi industry, the advantage they have is unfair. Personally I use the taxi app E-HAIL (www.goehail.com) same convenience but real drivers.

    • SF Sunset Guy

      as opposed to the what, imaginary drivers with cars marked uber?

  • Pauline Kahney

    MUNI is pricing itself out of business. A round-trip adult fare is now $5.00, which is not cheap. And MUNI should indeed try harder to keep its bus stops and vehicles clean. Funny point – I was waiting for the #21 bus this busy Friday evening outside the Orpheum Theater and people waiting for their Uber ride were using our seats! Charge these companies a fee!

    • SF Sunset Guy

      as long as they weren’t eating pizza at the bus stop, they’ll be fine.

      since you wrote, the cash round trip Muni fare is not $5.50….two increased in one calendar year. Soon the fast pass will equal a car payment.