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Chariot expands service into far-flung neighborhoods

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Chariot’s new service, “Chariot Direct,” allows commuters in the downtown area to travel to far-flung neighborhoods in San Francisco.

A new service to shuttle disconnected commuters from BART and Caltrain to the rest of San Francisco debuted this week.

Private transit firm Chariot has launched a new service, “Chariot Direct,” allowing commuters from the downtown central core to commute by shuttle to outlying neighborhoods.

The service is a reverse of the traditional Chariot service, which brings commuters from non-central neighborhoods like the Richmond and Sunset to downtown.

The new service is also a break from Chariot’s model of using fixed routes, much like buses. Now users can enter into their smartphones specific destinations, and Chariot will ferry them from transit stations to their destinations, along particular routes, in a private van.

Ali Vahabzadeh, founder of Chariot, said Caltrain and BART are the most frequent starting points of the new direct line.

Getting commuters from one leg of transit — like Muni, Caltrain or BART — to their ultimate destination a short distance away is called the “last mile” problem by transit planners across the country. The solution to the “last mile problem” is publicly sought after by Lyft, Chariot and other private transit services.

The “last mile problem” afflicts some neighborhoods that employ workers near minimum wage, such as Fisherman’s Wharf. The San Francisco Examiner has previously covered the Wharf’s trouble in hiring workers due to the lack of direct transit available from outlying cities.

Vahabzadeh cited the Wharf as inspiration for the new shuttle routes.

“These are the forgotten commuters,” he said.

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