Bus running late? Buzz a cabbie

Frustrated Muni patrons waiting for a bus to arrive might be able to find relief from a simple button.

The Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, is considering a plan to have an on-call button at each bus station that would connect people with an available cab if the wait for a transit vehicle is too long. Through a dispatch system, the nearest cab driver would be the first person alerted by the on-call button.

While MTA spokesman Paul Rose said action on the plan isn’t imminent, the idea has been bandied about at the agency’s Citizen Advisory Committee for taxi affairs, and its beginning to generate heavy discussions in the industry.

Charles Rathbone, a taxi driver with Luxor Cab, said the technology will provide cab drivers with one more tool to service passengers.

“Anything that helps us get more business is a very welcome improvement,” Rathbone said. “If the MTA can actually help us out, we’d be very happy.”

Other drivers are not so enthusiastic about the plan. Mark Gruberg, spokesman for the United Taxicab Workers, a drivers group, said Muni patrons could indiscriminately push the on-call button without actually needing a cab. Also, cab drivers waiting to contact their customers could get cited for waiting in bus-loading zones.

John Lazar, Rathbone’s boss at Luxor, said adding more taxi stands to city streets would be a better alternative than the call button at Muni bus stops.

San Francisco resident Crio Burley, a frequent patron of Muni’s 38-Geary, 31-Balboa and F-Market lines, said he would use the on-call taxi service if it was available.

“There are certain times during the day when I’m stuck waiting for the 38-Geary for 45 minutes,” said Burley. “To have the option to get cab service makes a lot of sense for people trying to get somewhere quickly.”

Since the MTA took control of the now-defunct Taxicab Commission in 2009, several ideas for reform have been proposed, including changing the overhead lights on vehicles to more accurately reflect availability, and making credit-card machines mandatory in all cars.

Nathaniel Ford, executive director for the MTA, called the latest proposal for the taxi industry a “good idea.”

“If this will help people move more efficiently around The City, I’m all for it,” Ford said.

Calling all cabs

4,000: Muni stops in The City*
7,000: Registered cab drivers
34: Taxi companies
10: Dispatch companies

* Includes light-rail stops

Source: SFMTA

wreisman@sfexaminer.com
           

Bay Area NewsLocalTransittransportation

Just Posted

A felled tree in Sydney G. Walton Square blocks part of a lane on Front Street following Sunday’s storm on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
After the rain: What San Francisco learned from a monster storm

Widespread damage underscored The City’s susceptibility to heavy wind and rain

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
$1.4 trillion ‘blueprint’ would address Bay Area’s housing, transit woes

Analyzing the big ticket proposals in ‘Plan Bay Area 2050’

A felled tree in San Francisco is pictured on Fillmore Street following a major storm that produced high winds and heavy rains on Oct. 24, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Philip Ford)
Storm updates: Rainiest October day in San Francisco history

Rainfall exceeded 10 inches in parts of the Bay Area

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
Whistleblowing hasn’t worked at the SF Dept. of Building Inspection

DBI inspectors say their boss kept them off connected builders’ projects

Most Read