Daily Digest: Crowdsourced Commuter Vans Serving San Francisco's Marina

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(Photo from Chariot)

Probably nobody in San Francisco would ever dream of criticizing something like this, but a company called Chariot will launch a new commuter van line from San Francisco's Marina, Cow Hollow and Russian Hill neighborhoods to SOMA if 120 riders buy monthly passes before Friday afternoon, reports TechCrunch. As of this writing, 45 riders had committed. The passes cost anywhere from $44 to $116, including current promotional discounts.

The company has two other routes already in existence, both of which start at Chestnut and Divisadero.

You can see their pitch, which takes swipes at Muni and Uber, here.

Issues? Well, this, from Tech Crunch:

Some critics have raised worries that these bus startups, like Chariot and competitor Leap Transit, will cause the broader public to disinvest in the city’s municipal transit system. (Back in the 1970s, the city actually stopped issuing jitney licenses and voters backed a ballot initiative protecting MUNI on this very concern.)

(Chariot CEO Ali) Vahabzadeh said, “I would say actually we’re taking a lot of the overflow. A lot of our customers are actually waiting three or four buses which are overcrowded. I think we’re actually bringing more commuters back into the transit-first fold as opposed to having them drive to work and congest the streets even more, or commute through Uber, Lyft or Sidecar.”

Late last year and into the spring, you'll remember, the shuttle buses provided by Google and other tech firms became a symbol to some of a rapidly gentrifying city, drawing street protests that blocked their way.

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In San Francisco, "Haters and champions fight with equal fervor for and against ridesharing, bicycling, tech buses, Muni buses, BART trains, trolleys, Segways, private cars, carsharing, taxis, even walking," The Bold Italic noted in a post yesterday about the proposed van line. So, we'll see how this latest addition to the city's transportation matrix pans out.

And in other news today ....

  • Danny Sandler, who is unaffectionately known as "Evil Elmo" because he dresses up as the Sesame Street character and sometimes regales passers-by with less-than-delightful oratory, is now in jail after a confrontation with a Fisherman's Wharf merchant. (SF Chronicle)
  • A legal development, concerning California rules for carrying concealed firearms, went against gun control advocates today. Depending on future appeals, sheriffs across California "could be required to issue permits based on nothing more than the applicant's stated wish to carry a gun for self-defense," the Bay Area News Group reports.
  • After a period of uncertainty, Bay Area Bike Share is now on the road to expansion, says the San Francisco Examiner.