Vigilante public transportation

F car at Beach and Stockton is 11 mins out. Guy in snazzy black limo pulls up and starts offering rides anywhere in downtown/FiDi for $3 per person. Promises door to door service.

He goes up to individual people, asking for takers. He gets to me last, since a coffee cup, iPod, magazine, and stony expression turned out to be an obvious, carefully engineered (OK, not really) sign that I’m less-than-interested. Armed with a FastPass that gets me as many damned rides as I want, I snobbily turn my nose up at the bargain offer for $2 a ride instead. I have principles, after all.

Currently, I’m suffering the indignity (to be overly dramatic) of riding on a replacement F car: yes, that means a regular bus driving on the railway tracks, which is easily the bumpiest ride you’ll ever be on in SF, because who knows what happened to the actual rail vehicle. To add insult to injury, it’s stopping at the Ferry Building: I need to go a mile farther than that.

FYI, F-car: Some dude is stomping on your territory and pretty much beat you at the transportation game today. Next time, I might not side with you (and my principles) if I’m in a pinch.


  • Our poor F-Line. That series of rainstorms we had last month were hard on the F-Line streetcars, and until the new car barn is finished next year, they sleep outdoors at night and many of them started leaking. With the better weather we should be seeing less bustitution and more streetcars.

  • Oh, well now that’s just heartbreaking. I’m not being sarcastic either, the idea of the poor little F-cars sleeping in the muckymuck is awful. I hope for a brand-new car barn for them soon.

  • Actually it’s not just the F that dude is stomping on, it’s taxi drivers.

    It is super illegal in the city of San Francisco for limo drivers to solicit rides off the street in that way (in the city or at the airport) and they are taking business directly away from licensed San Francisco taxicabs. Limousines are supposed to pre-arrange rides with written or oral contracts (at any time an SFPD officer can ask them to provide proof of this per Article 16 of the SF Police Code) and because of this they are able to realize much more revenue per ride than a taxi, which is legally limited to charging the municipal rates on the taximeter.

    The legal limo/taxi differential exists because theoretically there are two different transportation needs being met; taxis are a form of public transportation serving a more ad-hoc need, and limousines charge a premium for a contractual, personalized ride in an unmarked vehicle without as much focus on time and distance. When a limo skirts this regulation to fill unbooked time, they take money right out of cab drivers’ pockets. Cab drivers are already screwed enough by the city; prevented from labor organizing by their bogus “independent contractor” status and often driving years without any possibility of an ownership stake in the industry, and it will only get worse as the city looks to squeeze budget dollars out of the cab industry by revoking our longtime public policy of taxi medallions as essentially public property.

    If you ever see a limo driver soliciting rides on the street or at the airport, please tell him what he’s doing is illegal and in violation of the Police Code. Better yet, call the SFPD’s taxi detail at (415) 553-1447 and report his license plate number.

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