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San Francisco is certainly a busy city, and for years the city has been encouraging commuting drivers to commute together. When Garrett Camp, Uber’s co-founder, conceived of the company in 2008, he was responding to San Francisco’s lack of taxis. Now, eight years later, there’s no shortage of services in the City by the Bay. The San Francisco Bay Area is now a major hub for ride-sharing services within California. California became the first state in the nation to regulate rides-sharing services after Lyft came on the scene in 2012.
Uber and Lyft vehicles and services are abundant in the city, as both companies are headquartered in San Francisco. Passengers can hail economy, luxury, and high-occupancy vehicles with the Uber and Lyft apps. UberPOOL and Lyft Line options allow multiple passengers to split the cost of their trip with riders heading their way. In August 2016, Google launched car sharing service via the Waze App, called Waze Carpool, in an aggressive move to compete by offering deep discounted rates. Several other niche ride-sharing and ride-hailing upstarts have emerged as well. Taxis are available at taxi stands, via a traditional “street hail” and with apps provided by Uber, Flywheel, and Yellow Cab SF.
San Francisco requires taxis to comply with aggressive emission standards. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency also requires taxi drivers to comply with finger printing, drug testing, and background check requirements.
California’s Public Utilities Commission administers Transportation Network Companies (TNC), like Uber and Lyft. Under new regulations passed in April 2016, TNC drivers must inspect their vehicles and display their company logo in the front and rear. Generally, background checks and drug testing aren’t required.
Despite accomplishments with traffic solutions, issues have arisen concerning the fairness of business. Not all ride-hailing companies are upheld to the same standards or required to pay the same fees, which has led to tension among the different transportation options. This is understandable considering consumers are looking to get the most out of their dollar. In the future, the Bay Area will begin to see the fee gap tighten among the different companies, but for now people looking to catch a ride are going to go with the most luxury they can afford.
All three San Francisco Bay Area airports (San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose) permit app-based ride-hail drivers to drop off and pickup passengers at specified locations. Taxi lines and stands are reserved for medallion cabs. San Francisco International Airport, Oakland Airport and Minetta San Jose International Airport are all within driving distance of the San Francisco city and are offered as Uber or Lyft routes. Riders can take Uber from SFO to destinations like Downtown San Francisco for under $30. A normal Lyft ride from Union Square to Oakland will cost under $27.
Uber provides two options for passengers with special needs. With ASSIST, trained drivers assist seniors and people with disabilities. The WAV option provides vehicles with wheelchair accessible ramps. Passengers with wheelchairs can also select Lyft’s Access service available under the app’s settings menu. Over 100 taxis in San Francisco are equipped with wheelchair accessible ramps.
A few other lesser known ride-share companies exist such as Summon and Hitch. Summon offers flat-rate pricing with no surges, and free cancellation up to 30 minutes prior to pickup. Hitch is still in beta testing, and acts as a carpool system. Wingz allows passengers to book a ride to SFO, Oakland International Airport, and Mineta San Jose International Airport in advance. With Wingz, the driver and price are set prior to pickup – there’s no surge pricing.