Phil Matier: San Francisco’s DeSoto Cab Company Ditches Longtime Name For Flywheel App

By Phil Matier : cbslocal – excerpt (audio track)

The oldest cab company in San Francisco is rebranding itself to keep up with its high-tech competition. After more than eight decades, DeSoto is hopping on board with Flywheel. Phil Matier reports. (2/18/15)… (more)

New paint job and billboard image, but they are keeping the standard cab prices instead of on-demand sliding scale.

Taxis in San Francisco are fighting back through apps, with the city’s blessing

by  Time – excerpt

Standing on the corner of California and Polk in San Francisco, I took out my phone and ordered a ride from Flywheel, an app that’s competing with rival transportation services like Uber and Lyft by leveraging the thousands of taxis already on the road. Like with those services, once I order a Flywheel ride, a map pops up with a car icon, showing me where my ride is in relation to me and allowing me to monitor the driver as he or she gets closer.

On this particular morning, as I watched multiple Lyfts go by (unmissable with their trademark giant pink mustaches attached to the cars’ grilles), and a couple Ubers (the black cars now identifiable by small logos that must be placed on their windows), my driver’s icon drifted away from me. After some minutes passed, I called the driver, who assured me he was on his way. When he continued to travel not towards me, I canceled the order and got a new Flywheel, which picked me up and promptly delivered me to the company’s San Francisco office, with my bill and a 20% tip paid automatically through the credit card I stored on the app.

Once at Flywheel, Chief Product Officer Sachin Kansal explained what had likely happened with my misguided driver. “He may have been ride-stacking,” Kansal explained, meaning that the driver accepted my order on the app and then took a street hail, thinking he could deliver the latter before I ever knew the difference. But the moment I canceled my ride, the driver’s plan was foiled. He would be blocked from the system until Flywheel investigated the case, and these did not appear to be circumstances that would yield quick forgiveness from administrators. Kansal made sure I knew how swiftly justice would be dealt, because this is not the kind of mistake companies can afford to treat lightly in the midst of the Great Ride App Wars…

Using apps like Flywheel is a way for taxis to fight fire with fire instead of tattling, however justified it might seem. Flywheel’s Kansal says that drivers may double the amount of rides they get in a shift through the efficiency that the system provides, matching people who need rides with nearby drivers. “There are weaknesses that others have. There are regulations that they may be breaking,” he says. “But 90% of our energy is spent on making sure this experience always stays top notch. That the experience that you had this morning never happens again.”…  (more)

 

 

This App Sums Up Why Everyone Hates Silicon Valley

By Lydia O’Connor : huffington – excerpt

If you’re wondering why so many San Franciscans claim the tech industry has turned the city into a playground for the wealthy, this new parking app does a pretty good job of summing things up.

MonkeyParking, which started in Rome and recently made its U.S. debut in San Francisco, lets drivers auction off their curbside parking spots to the highest bidder and earn as much as $150 a month, according to the app makers.

“Publish your parking spot on MonkeyParking every time that you park your car and get notified about drivers willing to pay for the spot,” the company explains on its AngelList investor page. “Accept the price and leave your spot to the driver within 10 minutes. It’s a smart way to make some extra $ when you’re about to leave your spot anyway.”

Parking spots in San Francisco are notoriously difficult to find, and MonkeyParking thinks it’s created a convenient solution.

But it may only end up being convenient for well-to-do smartphone owners with enough superfluous income to buy parking spots. The app has already aroused the ire of residents upset seeing a tech startup trying to commoditize public space… (more)

No trickle down money here. Just a lot of good old-fashioned greed, the kind that used to be considered so gosh in San Francisco, but now its the currency of choice. Making money off other people’s misery. No wonder San Francisco is now ranks as the fourth most stressed city.

RELATED:
People Go Bananas Over MonkeyParking – The SF City Attorney’s office is also looking into whether it’s legal. “So far, all we’ve determined for sure is that it’s extremely weird,” a spokesperson told The Chronicle.
As far as I can see (Twitter) tech people are lauding MonkeyParking as the most novel form of “sharing economy” yield management yet, and SF veterans are arguing that it is yet another example of a tech corporation profiting off of public space. I guess the moderate view is that it’s some sort of Italian anarchist performance art… (more)

 

San Francisco Hackathon To Focus On Improving Public Transportation

BY SARAH LAI STIRLAND : techpresident.com – excerpt

San Francisco is a laggard in the field of public transportation when compared to many other big cities of the world. Unlike Hong Kong, London or New York City, it’s often not possible to take a bus or subway to get somewhere in a timely fashion. And parking is a nightmare.
Hence many companies opt to locate themselves in the Peninsula, where employees can hop on WiFi-enabled shuttles to get to work.
San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee wants to change that, and to bring more companies back into the city. His staffers recently convened with Hattery Labs to figure out ways of making this happen. One idea they had was to arm San Franciscans with better information about their transportation options. So they’re convening a hackathon mid-October. The goal is to get 50 or so developers to create a variety of apps that will both help the city to engage in better transportion planning, to help San Franciscans to more easily plan their trips, and to better communicate how the city is fixing transportion problems.
The event is being organized by Hattery Labs, Engine Advocacy, the San Francisco Mayor’s office and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority. Other sponsors of the event include Google, Keen.io, General Assembly, and Waze.

More details about there event are available here.

(more)

Someone should come up with an app to tell you which parking spots are legal. Most drivers can’t tell by looking at the curb color or reading the signs when and if a parking spot is legal. SF needs an app for that.

Physically moving bodies through space is not a virtual problem to solve. It is a physical problem. They could possibly solve some issues by creating a proper computer system for tracking parts for there many different types of vehicles. We hear they have none. They might need a better way of scheduling the routes and a computer program might help them with that, otherwise, you pretty much need real mechanics to keep the buses moving and there is no app for that, unless you want to replace the mechanics with robots.