The Last Ride of the Jitney

By sfweekly – excerpt

After 44 years of regular service, San Francisco’s last jitney has sat idly on a SoMa street corner for weeks.

Every day since the Nixon Administration, Jess Losa drove from the Caltrain station on Fourth Street to downtown in the blue No. 97 coach. It used to be a decrepit, 1970s GMC van, but more recently it was a 2002 Ford you might mistake for an airport shuttle. Without fail, Losa bobbed and weaved through morning and evening commutes as San Francisco’s one and only jitney — a privately-operated one-man bus service.

His route made a loop from the station north on Third Street to Market then back to the trains south on Fourth Street, a trip he was known to make in five sometimes-daunting minutes. Most recently, it cost $2.25 each way, the same as a Muni trip. But in late January, Losa posted a sign near the train station on Fourth Street informing his customers they’d paid their last fare. The jitney is out of service… (more)


Sweeping new regulations proposed for Uber, Lyft may level playing field for taxis

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Uber and Lyft may soon face tighter-than-ever inspections on how it calculates fares and its insurance and criminal records, in addition to facing more frequent vehicle inspections under newly proposed regulations.

A California Public Utilities Commission administrative law judge proposed the sweeping new rules in a ruling issued Monday afternoon.

If approved by the California Public Utilities Commission at its regular meeting Feb. 25, some of the new rules may in some ways level the playing field for taxis, experts told the Examiner.

The taxi industry frequently complains it is difficult to complete against “rideshares” because the two industries are regulated by different entities, and play by a different set of rules.

Rideshares are typically called Transportation Network Companies in California.

Among Commissioner Liane M. Randolph and CPUC Administrative Law Judge Robert R. Mason’s 15 proposed new “Phase II” regulations for Uber, Lyft and other TNCs are some tighter regulations, which bring TNCs more in line with the taxi industry. Those include increasing the frequency of vehicle inspections, tighter background checks for TNCs which mainly drive unaccompanied minors (like Shuddle), annual reports on “fare-splitting” (like UberPool and Lyft Line services), and increased records transparency.

Uber and Lyft may soon need to open their books to the CPUC on proof of required liability insurance, criminal background check information, driver’s licenses and driving records, vehicle inspection records, as well as driver suspensions, deactivations, and subsequent reactivations.

TNCs also may now need to display “trade dress” (Like Lyft’s iconic mustache) in the back and front of the vehicle, so they are more visible.

Susan Shaheen is co-director of UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center, and is a leading expert on Uber and Lyft. She told the Examiner that some of these regulations make TNCs more heavily regulated, like taxis.

As far as increasing transparency around calculating fares, Shaheen said, “That I’d put in the bucket of leveling the playing field in regulations.”

Fares are a “heavily regulated” area of the taxi industry, she said…(more)