Tag Archives: BART

Looking for Fares in All the Wrong Places

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My column this week for the S.F. Examiner is an attempt to shed some light on one of the most confusing aspects of the taxi industry: the medallion system.

While discussing health problems and money woes, Loco and I shiver in the chilly night air and surreptitiously eyeball the BART passengers emerging from the station.

Loco has a paid medallion. As he describes the headaches and heartbreaks of paying off a $250,000 taxi medallion in the Age of Uber, his story echoes those of other paid medallion holders I’ve spoken to. It’s always tragic, since the only solution is for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to admit that the program to sell taxi medallions is a complete failure and offer financial amnesty to anyone who forked out a quarter of a million dollars for their worthless piece of tin.

The medallion was supposed to be a safety net for drivers as they got older. But for those struggling to pay off loans when the vehicle-for-hire business is in the toilet, it’s an albatross. 

Read the rest here.

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A Fleeting Sense of Worth when Demand Spikes

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Wednesday looked to be a promising night for taxi driving. With Phish playing their third gig at Bill Graham and a reported 8,000 Pokemon Go enthusiasts roaming The City on a gamers bar crawl, it seemed there would be plenty of business to go around. Plus, given the numerous — often hilarious — mishaps surrounding the Pokemon Go craze, maybe some notable shenanigans along the way.

Little did I know a different kind of mischief would play out.

Around 7:30 p.m., someone managed to drive a pickup onto the BART tracks in West Oakland, shutting down the Transbay Tube for 90 minutes. How it got there was a mystery at the time. Maybe Pokemon was to blame after all?

The disruption in service at the end of the day’s rush-hour commute was an unexpected boom in business, as most taxis and Uber-Lyfts rushed to Market Street and the surrounding areas to transport the stranded East Bay-bound travelers across the Bay Bridge. This led to a vacuum in the rest of The City and created a massive flurry of rides for me…

This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner… HERE!

Where and Where Not to Buy Weed on the Street in San Francisco

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The only time I’ve ever been mugged was in the Civic Center BART station 20 years ago when I tried to buy weed from a crack dealer. After the guy stopped pummeling me and I gave him the $20 he knew I had, a man who looked like my “Shakespeare in Rome” professor asked me, “Did that guy just rob you?”

I’m heading inbound on Market, trying to prevent a Yellow cab in the right lane from getting the jump on me, when a guy flags me at the Seventh Street Muni island stop. He opens my front door, and I quickly grab my bag and stow it under my seat. He asks how much to Ocean Beach. I tell him around $20.

“Let’s do it,” he says.

I turn right on Sixth and start driving west.

His name is Hugh. He’s from Sydney, in San Francisco working on some project for a tech firm. Spent the past two weeks sequestered in an incubator in the Mission. This is the first time he’s been free to venture out and explore The City.

“So what have you been up to?” I ask.

“Well, I just lost $300 trying to buy weed.”

“Why’d you think you could buy pot around here?” I ask, more nonplussed than he seems to be. They only sell crack and heroin in mid-Market. Some pot dealers hang out by Jones Street, but they usually close up shop early.

Hugh shrugs. “I just wanted to celebrate turning in the first part of my project this morning.”

This week’s column is about buying drugs on the street in San Francisco… It’s not always easy…

Read it here.