Chariot just launched two new routes for its service, such as the Great Haight that serves Haight-Ashbury.  (Kevin Kelleher/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Chariot just launched two new routes for its service, such as the Great Haight that serves Haight-Ashbury. (Kevin Kelleher/Special to S.F. Examiner)

San Franciscans ‘vote’ for private bus Chariot to launch routes in Haight, Outer Richmond

Local tech-transit company Chariot is launching two new van routes today, in the Outer Richmond district and the Haight Ashbury neighborhood.

Chariot is a tech-enabled private transit company, which runs midsize vans along predetermined routes in San Francisco, along California Street, Chestnut Street, in South of Market, Fisherman’s Wharf and other SF neighborhoods.

Among its newest lines launching today are the Great Haight, which picks up passengers on Stanyan, Clayton and Masonic streets along Haight, as well as the new Richmond Racer, which includes stops on 32nd Avenue, 25th Avenue and 19th Avenue along Geary Boulevard.

Both new routes were voted for on Chariot’s website, in a unique platform where riders can “vote” for Chariot to come to their neighborhood. If enough potential riders “vote” for a route, Chariot opens it up for crowdfunding, Ali Vahabzadeh, founder of Chariot, told the San Francisco Examiner.

“You tell us where you want it, and we’ll do it,” he said.

It also reduces Chariot’s financial risk, ensuring there’s a base of riders before starting a route.

Once Chariot lands in one neighborhood, Vahabzadeh said, interest tends to spread to outlying neighborhoods.

“When we did the Marina and Cow Hollow we got a lot of interest from Pacific Heights,” Vahabzadeh said. “So when we did the Inner Richmond for our sixth route, we naturally got a lot of interest from the Outer Richmond.”

A lot of that interest spread online through social media.

In late September, Twitter user Nichole Pejoro tweeted “Why I hate @sfmta_muni? Reason #452-hobo hopped on & is stinkin up the bus. Can’t breathe!! @rideChariot I need a chariot to outer Richmond.”

She later linked to the Richmond Racer page, to encourage more folks to sign on.

“The first Richmond Racer got crowdfunded in 43 minutes, which was incredible,” Vahabzadeh said. “When we said ‘hey, purchase your first pass,’ it filled out in an hour.”

Many of those tweeting for new lines identified themselves as working at startups or in financing. That may be why Chariot considers its competition to be not only Muni, but “rideshare” companies like Uber and Lyft.

“We’re just dirt cheap. Lyft Line is 12 bucks,” Vahabzadeh said. Chariot is about $3-5, varying depending on how many rides you buy.

Still, not all is roses for Chariot. Online user reviews of its Android app complain of it crashing, though iPhone users report a much more stable experience. Chariot’s reliance on smartphones may also make it tough for those who still depend on flip-phones.

Chariot has addressed those issues in the past, even creating paper passes for low-wage workers who voted to start Chariot’s relatively new route to Fisherman’s Wharf.

New routes are in the pipeline, too. A look at Chariot’s website shows a Laurel Heights route “77% Rolled,” in the parlance of Chariot. Other potential routes which have some number of votes are Noe Valley, Western Addition, Panhandle, Russian Hill and Polk Gulch.

ChariotMuniprivate shuttlestechTransit

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

District Attorney Chesa Boudin announces charges against former SFPD Officer Christopher Samoyoa in the 2017 fatal shooting of Keita O’Neill at a press conference outside the Hall of Justice on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
DA Boudin charges fired SFPD officer with manslaughter over fatal shooting

Ex-Officer Christopher Samayoa to face criminal charges in killing of Keita O’Neil

The area near the Castro Muni Metro Station is expected to be affected by construction work on the Twin Peaks Tunnel, with lane closures on Market Street and some loss of parking. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Construction on Twin Peaks Tunnel to begin November 30

Area around Castro Muni Station will see greatest impacts including lane closures on Market Street

(Genaro Molina/Pool/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Newsom calls latest surge of COVID-19 cases ‘unprecendented’

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation California’s latest surge of COVID-19… Continue reading

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, during a news conference on March 10, 2020. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
LA County suspends outdoor dining at restaurants as coronavirus surges

By Alex Wigglesworth Los Angeles Times Los Angeles County public health officials… Continue reading

Renderings of the main entrance to upcoming Mission Bay elementary school on Owens Street. (Courtesy photo)
SFUSD offers first look at planned Mission Bay elementary school

San Francisco school officials this month unveiled the design of a planned… Continue reading

Most Read