Chariot adds commute routes for UCSF employees, with public funding

 : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco commuter van operator Chariot has started a shuttle service for UCSF Mission Bay employees who commute from the East Bay. It’s the first such service funded by a public transit agency, and it aims to ease congestion on the Bay Bridge.

UCSF, one of the Bay Area’s largest employers, received a $750,000 grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which oversees regional transportation planning, to coax its workers into fewer cars. As part of the initiative, UCSF tapped Chariot, a subsidiary of Ford Smart Mobility, to operate two weekday shuttle routes between Emeryville and West Oakland and UCSF’s Mission Bay campus during the morning and evening commutes. The service began June 18 with eight Chariot vans, each carrying up to 14 passengers.The service will run for one year as part of a broader MTC initiative called “Bay Bridge Forward,” which is funneling $40 million to improve bus lines, parking lots and ferry routes. Most of the money is going to public transit operators, but a small slice is going to UCSF and Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser, headquartered in Oakland, received $150,000 to manage its workers’ commuting and parking patterns.

Chariot and UCSF officials said they don’t know how many employees will use the service. About 6,000 of UCSF’s 25,000 employees work at Mission Bay, and more than a quarter are estimated to live in the East Bay. The cost to UCSF employees for the new Chariot routes is $7.50 per ride.

“We want to help our employees get to work each day, while also easing traffic heading into the city,” Erick Villalobos, UCSF’s director of transportation services, said in a statement… (more)

We are speechless. This is how the public transit agencies spend taxpayer dollars? We pay for UCSF employees to ride in comfort for $7.50 a day, while commuters pay higher bridge tolls and parking fees. How is this fair? No sooner has the ink dried on the RM3 election, than the public fund get siphoned off to corporate sponsors of the bill. Voters should retaliate by repealing the gas tax.

LA, Orange County transit agencies seek their own ride-sharing services

By : dailybreeze – excerpt

Look out Uber and Lyft, more competition is on the way.

Public transit agencies in Los Angeles and Orange counties announced Monday that they’re seeking private-sector partners to operate new door-to-door ride-sharing programs.

The proposed “micro-transit” programs would begin operating in selected areas this summer, offering cheaper door-to-door rides than Uber and Lyft — as low as $5 per trip with free transfers to buses and rail lines.

The service would be designed to boost ridership and to keep up with private-sector technology innovations, said Joshua Schank, chief innovation officer at Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or LA Metro.

“The idea behind this service is that there are many people who need better public transit in Los Angeles that we cannot adequately serve with our existing bus and rail network,” Schank said. “You’ll be able to summon a vehicle. It’ll pick you up at a point near where you are and transport you to a point near where you’re going.”

Schank’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation was formed in 2015 to seek private-sector partnerships such as this that incorporate new technology to improve transportation.

LA Metro has been studying a ride-hailing, ride-sharing program for months, and Schank said it will send out a request for bids to private companies on Wednesday, but didn’t offer specific details about its program, such as cost and initial service areas.

“The private sector knows this better than we do,” Schank said. “We’ve developed the project internally, figured out what we wanted it to look like, and now we’re ready to ask private industry for their ideas.”

Similar to Lyft and Uber, the systems would be accessible through a cellphone app. But they won’t require that the user have a credit card, and they will accommodate disabled riders… (more)

Article sent by a reader with this comment:

And the lawsuits will be flying…they will use PUBLIC MONEY to subsidize ride-sharing services? To stay alive. Anyone else with thoughts on this? Uber is already burning investor money to grab market share. The only way these public agencies can do what is suggested here – to undercut private companies – is to use public funds to subsidize even further the cost of a ride share commute. Free passes to the buses? Who’s money is this? This is amazing.

Editor: FYI:

MTC and SFMTA are already subsidizing Motivate and Ford GoBikes in the Bay Area. They set up private/public partnerships and get the cities to hand over public street parking to gentrify the neighborhoods and soften them up for takeover for luxury condos. This does nothing to solve the state affordable housing problem, or the public transit system. It pushes the poor out to make room for wealthy investors.

Details on the Related deal, that was not shared with the public until the appearance of the GoBikes made it necessary to shine a light on the MTC deal to form a public/private partnership with Related-owned Motivate. Ford is not the operator, as it is with Chariot. That may be the worst PR move of false advertising Ford has done in some time, as the GoBikes spring up unannounced all over the city, Ford is being blamed, prompting a boycott Ford attitude as people decide to take back their streets, one bike station at a time. Other share companies may also object to the exclusive deal SFMTA has carved out for their preferred partners.

 

 

 

Chariot Is Suspended in San Francisco, and the Transportation Biz Is Still Hard

By Aarian Marshall : wired – excerpt

Chariot, the Ford-owned van commuter service that crowdsources its routes from passengers, is the subject of some controversy in San Francisco, the city where it was born. For its 3,000 to 4,000 daily riders, Chariot is a valuable, non-personal-car form of mass transit, a cost-effective-ish alternative to the city’s sometimes sluggish and limited public transportation system (a rush hour ride is $5, compared to Muni’s $2.50). For others, the service’s vans are a straight-up nuisance: loudly idling near their homes, belching exhaust, double parking on already crowded streets, and hanging out stops meant for city buses.

So it was with a mixture of joy and despair that San Franciscans greeted the news that Chariot had been suspended in California. (It also operates in Seattle, Austin, and New York.) Late Thursday afternoon, as rush hour bore down upon the City by the Bay, the California Public Utilities Commission yanked the service’s operating license. Chariot had failed three routine inspections by the California Highway Patrol, as officials found not all of its drivers had the right licenses to operate the company’s 14-person passenger vans. “We are committed to always providing our riders with safe and reliable service, and we comply with regulatory orders even when we disagree with them,” the company said in an email sent to riders… (more)

Regulate Chariot, charge fair-market value for use of government property

Op-ed by Susan Vaughan : sfexaminer – excerpt

Photos by zrants

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is an vital organization in The City’s efforts to combat climate change and income inequality. In its 2016 Annual Report, the SFMTA announced a 10 percent increase in service, daily ridership of 725,000 and one-year reductions of nearly 45 percent in carbon emissions…

In recent years, private, for-profit carriers that The City doesn’t regulate or regulates loosely, and that exclude many categories of riders, have proliferated on local streets: the technology shuttle buses, aka “Google” buses; transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission; and now private transportation vehicles (PTVs)…

This is legal. In fact, in 2012 and 2013, local cab drivers sued the SFMTA over the cost of medallions (permits to operate taxis) arguing that the medallion fee — $250,000 — was an illegal tax. A legal brief, signed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Deputy City Attorney Wade Snodgrass, made the winning argument that the medallion “grants its holder the ‘special privilege’ of ‘us[ing] … public streets for private enterprise.” Elsewhere, they wrote: “California law … [authorizes] local government entities to allow the private use of public property, and to sell or lease public property, at market rates … in order to protect the public fisc.” In fact, in 2010 town hall meetings, the proposed medallion fee was identified as a source of revenue to support the SFMTA. But those medallion fees have dropped into negative numbers because of the competition from TNCs… (more)

The Board of Directors must include fair-market charges for every PTV — and shuttle bus — for “[t]he right to use streets as a place of business for private gain.”

Susan Vaughan is a local transportation advocate... (more)

How is Chariot different from Tech buses and hospital shuttles? Why are we dealing with so many different attitudes toward the same thing? Should not all these “private” transportation systems that transport the public be “regulated” is equals? The SFMTA should not be in the business of regulating private vehicles. They should stick to doing the one thing they can barely do. They should fill the holes in the road they dug up and they should manage the Muni. If the Muni were properly managed it would BE the choice of most people.

What does the director of the agency do with this time? He sits on many boards and does a lot of back slapping and self-congratulatory speeches, claiming he runs the best transit system in the world, while San Francisco traffic and businesses are being run into the ground by a construction nightmare of his own making.

City Hall is anticipating offering small sums of cash grants and low-interest loans to prop up the failing businesses long enough to get through the various hopelessly behind schedule construction projects, many neighborhoods opposed to begin with. Maybe we need to let the director go and work on his private projects and hire a new focused one who can get the jobs done effectively, ONE AT A TIME instead of 29 at a time.

If all the street construction projects went away tomorrow no one would care about the Chariots, tech buses, Muni, delivery trucks or taxis. The street constructions are creating the headaches for everyone and sucking up the Muni money. Kill the projects and you can have a free Muni.

 

The Privatization of Transit

KQED – excerpt – (video)

Private companies are changing the way many of us are getting to work. For years, Google, Facebook and other firms have run shuttle buses that take their employees to and from their campuses. Now startups are getting into the transit business. KQED’s Thuy Vu and Scott Shafer look at the benefits and drawbacks of private transit services.

Guests:
• Supervisor Scott Wiener, San Francisco Board of Supervisors
• Clarrissa Cabansagan, community planner at TransForm
• Ali Vahabzadeh, founder and CEO of Chariot.. (more)

Question for the Supervisors: How much longer will you be content to campaign for more money for a system that we all know is broken. If money were the answer to fixing Muni, why does throwing more money at it never seem to work? The more you throw the worse it gets.

On Guard: Is Leap Muni’s Uber moment?

By sfexaminer – excerpt

Reclaimed wood tables. Leather seats. Iced tea and Wi-Fi. Stepping onto a Leap bus is like visiting the trendy, obnoxious coffee shop that displaced your favorite Mission hangout three years ago, only now it’s on wheels — don’t drop your coffee, techbro!

This is Leap, the upstart private bus running from Lombard Street in the Marina to the Financial District. It’s a tech-laden bus for a techie crowd, and as I board it, my mind turns to the political fallout of Leap and its sister buses may create.

The so-called Google buses, Leap and Chariot (another private bus provider) are all part of a movement in which techies separate themselves from our public-transportation services — like Muni — and create private alternatives. But haven’t we seen this before?

If you could swim in bitcoin, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick would backstroke through his billions like Scrooge McDuck. Uber and Lyft disrupted the taxi industry, and now taxi companies are teetering near collapse.

So will Muni get disrupted out of existence by private buses?… (more)