Tag Archives: caltrain

Everything is for sale in San Francisco

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Pulled up to Caltrain the other day and there’s a new bike rack blasting a corporate logo. It seems the Bay Area Bike Share program has been expanded with money from Ford Motor Company, thus the rebrand to Ford GoBike. 

Unlike what happened to the taxi industry when Uber rolled out, the city is actually doing its job [ex1 . ex2 . ex3] and trying to protect existing industries from being disrupted by certain features in the new bike share program, namely a day pass that would appeal to tourists over the various bike services that cater to tourists.

Good news for Blazing Saddles, et al.

For now anyway.

Weathering the Long, Cold Winter Ahead

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If it’s raining in San Francisco, the world must be coming to an end. Which isn’t much of an exaggeration. Not only is Donald Trump our new president, but this has also been an absolutely brutal winter. Hardly a day above 60 degrees. Nighttime temps in the low 40s. And no end in sight.

I usually enjoy inclement weather, but enough is enough. I haven’t experienced a winter this unpleasant since the winter of ’99, when I was holed up in a roach-infested apartment in Birmingham, Alabama. And it wasn’t even very cold that year …

Last week, my shift at Baby Co. was covered for a few days, so I took the opportunity to go to work. After all, diapers aren’t cheap.

On Wednesday afternoon, in the pouring rain, Colin and I carpool into The City. The high winds on the Bay Bridge blow water sideways. We crack the windows to release our cigarette smoke, but we’re immediately pelted with errant raindrops.

“We be Trumpin’,” Colin quips.

Read the rest here.

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The Thin Checkered Line

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For some stupid reason, I still start my shifts at Caltrain these days, even though the construction on 4th Street guarantees I’ll end up snarled in traffic. I guess I’m a creature of habit, but I also know there’ll always be a few people getting off the train who haven’t summoned one of the Uber-Lyfts that make up most of the vehicles in this quagmire on Townsend. 

I inch forward slowly with steadfast determination toward the sanctuary of the taxi stand. After waiting only two minutes, I’m loaded and heading back into the maelstrom. 

I try to squeeze in front of a Lexus, but the driver isn’t giving me any leeway, riding the bumper of a Honda ahead of him. When the light finally turns green, he lays on his horn as I try to get in between him and the Honda. 

“Do you not understand how a taxi works?” I yell out my window and then mutter under my breath. “I hope the next time you’re in a taxi, some asshole prevents your driver from getting you where you need to go.”

I see an opening to the right and, like a running back fighting my way across the line of scrimmage, I seize the opportunity. The PCO directing traffic motions me through the intersection just as the light turns red. 

So long, suckas! 

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A San Francisco National Cab taxi at the intersection of Geary and Powell

Read the rest of the column here.

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SF Taxi Under Siege: Death of a Cab Stand

caltrain_cab_stand_2 This is the Caltrain cab stand at 4th and Townsend. I start most of my shifts here. While I wait for the 5:05 train from the peninsula to arrive, I get my shit situated, log in to my Flywheel phone, pick the Slayer CD I want to listen to that day and make sure my seat is adjusted comfortably. When the train whistle sounds, a crowd pours out of the station and all the taxis fill up and speed away. My heart always races when I get to the front of the line, hoping I get a decent fare. caltrain_cab_stand_3 Cabs outside a train station makes so much sense that it’s hard to believe the MTA took half of it away this week. Taxis used to have the entire stand, including a cut-out space close to the station entrance, where passengers can easily access the cabs. But this Wednesday, when I arrived at the Caltrain cab stand, there was a Bay Area Bike Share rack in the front of the stand. Originally, the bike rack was on the sidewalk, right next to the station. There was no notice of the change to the cab drivers. At first, the cabs waited at the front of the bike rack, but later, the cabs were pushed back twenty feet. caltrain_cab_stand Almost immediately, Lyft and Uber cars began to pull into the area to unload their passengers. I’m all for a more bike-friendly San Francisco, but if the intention of the city is to encourage bike-sharing programs (which aren’t cheap, btw), why put the bike rack in the midst of so much vehicular activity? Wouldn’t this be more dangerous for the bicyclists trying to park the bikes?

Also, why was there a Lyft party going on across the street that day? caltrain_lyft_party That night, back at the cab yard, this notice was posted by the cashier window: caltrain_cab_stand_SFMTA_noticeThe cab stand was already crowded, with numerous tech company shuttles and the Megabus using the area to drop off passengers as Caltrain. It’s outrageous that the MTA would give up what’s left of the cab stand to private companies like Lyft and Motivate, the company that runs the Bike Share program. But not very surprising.

As if to shade the deal in misinformation, there is this notice on the Bay Area Bike Share website. The stated reason for the “permanent” move is to avoid construction.

And the mystery of why Lyft was having a party across the street from Caltrain that day was solved by this graphic: caltrain_hotspot As part of Lyft’s constant efforts to compete with the Muni, they’re offering $3 Lyft Line rides that originate at Caltrain.

And that’s how San Francisco treats its taxi drivers.

As the tech dystopia continues to unfold in the Bay Area, the day will come when the only way to get around this city other than on foot is with a credit card and/or smart phone, surrendering all your personal information and activity to a corporate third party in the process.

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Google street view of the original cab stand (the first bike rack is visible next to trees):

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