Lyft to take on Muni routes

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In an announcement that could transform transportation policy in San Francisco, the startup company Lyft is prepared to take over some of the most crowded and dysfunctional Muni routes in San Francisco.

Mayor Ed Lee and the Municipal Transportation Agency have approved a plan that would turn the 38 Geary, 30 Stockton, and 14 Mission over to the tech startup, City Hall sources told us. The plan is still tentative and the Mayor’s Office is trying to keep it tightly under wraps until the financial details are complete.

However, documents provided to the Guardian show that Lyft would buy at least 68 buses, including 12 articulated vehicles, at a price still to be negotiated. In exchange, the city would give the company – known for its pink mustaches on illegal taxi cabs – exclusive rights to operate on the heavily-used lines.

Lyft is developing an  app that would allow customers not only to view approaching buses but to book specific seats for an additional  price. Sensors in the bus seats will emit an electronic buzz to alert passengers that their seats had been purchased by someone else, warning them to vacate by the next stop. If the passengers remain, they will feel a sharp electric shock.

Lee’s office said the plan is similar to the market-based parking-meter program that raises the price of a space in times of heavy demand.

“The free market solves so many problems,” Christine Falvey, spokesperson for Lee, told us. “And it’s pretty clear that too many people who don’t really need to sit down or who are perfectly capable of waiting for a later conveyance are taking up space on the most crowded buses.”

Ron Conway, the venture capitalist who is Lee’s closest ally in the business community, will invest as much as $40 million in the new venture, Silicon Valley sources say.  If the trial public-private partnership works, he’s prepared to raise money to buy out Muni and turn the city’s bus system into a private operation.

“You’ve got a captive market, and demand-based pricing is what’s happening these days,” Falvey said.  “It’s just the next step.”

Comments

Lotta laffs in this piece, Tim. Be sure to check out this post, that may or may not be an early April Fool's hoax: http://tinyurl.com/bpow3ea

Posted by MPetrelis on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 9:07 am

I want in flight meal and drink service and the fare scheme scrapped in favor of the optional donation fare model of lyft.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 9:36 am

video and internet. Why can't Muni do that? A private operator would.

The idea is to attract customers and not to deter them. Radical concept huh?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:53 am

Are you kidding? You want seat-back video -- on purpose??? You actually crave the form of torture that drives the rest of us crazy in airplanes and taxis???

Posted by Guest in the Machine on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

Surfing the web or watching TV isn't mandatory.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 6:06 am

But you can't make the people sitting next to you switch theirs off.

Posted by Hortencia on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 7:04 am

Personally I am more worried about getting sucked into a conversation with them, and that cannot happen if they are glued to their screen.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 7:17 am

After years of thoughtful planning and public discussion, SFBG is making direct investments in SF rental property. Their plan targets properties with deferred maintenance and long term tenants, and will prevent speculators from buying the valuable real estate and converting them to TIC. The source of the funding is the sale of their multi-million dollar Potrero Hill headquarters.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:05 am

Brillaiunt edia

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:10 am

The Guardian's April Fools columns are as stale as a 10-day old Flour and Water loaf.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:20 am

Yet still you read and comment.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:32 am
Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:54 am

If ONLY it was TRUE!

Posted by the dude abides on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:46 am

run Muni rather than current corrupt and incompetent mob would be the best thing possible for the commuters and taxpayers of thise city.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:48 am

"Too bad you regard this as a joke because having professionals

run Muni rather than current corrupt and incompetent mob would be the best thing possible for the commuters and taxpayers of thise city."

That's the real joke here, Muni IS run by professionals, and Lyft by rank amateurs who will not last, they are already coming apart at the seams!

Posted by Guest in the Machine on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

It would be a wake up call to the drivers at MUNI who don't even have to show up for work to get paid!

Posted by the dude abides on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:48 am

when instead you can pay him 60K per annum plus unsustainable benefits and thereby run the system into the ground?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:56 am

if you think MUNI drivers don't have to show up for work to get paid, you're nuts.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 11:49 am

quite why that would be deemed sufficient to get paid is beyond me.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

Too bad the main reason that Muni is dysfunctional is because Muni adopts the kind of overbearing public sector mentality that Tim usually advocates.

Presumably he'd like out electricity and gas supply to be in the public sector as well, so that they too can be dysfunctional.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 11:27 am

At least the Muni streetcars don't explode in the subway, incinerating a neighborhood.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 11:56 am

dangerous business than driving a bus, altho I would point out that quite a few pedestrians, and at least two cyclists, have been killed by Muni drivers.

But think about how many more gas explosions we would have if gas delivery was controlled by the same people that are responsible for Muni running on time.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

Yeah, moving 66 ton streetcars on rails is totally without risk.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

The statement was that it is intrinsically safer than moving gas, because gas is combustible and a street car is not.

The only exception to that rule would appear to me the special penschant muni drivers have for hitting pedestrians and cyclists (and of course not losing their job, but rather then being put on full pay without working).

Gotta love the public sector.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

Yes, 'guest' we are aware of your expertise in the field of 'moving gas'.

Posted by pete moss on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 6:17 am

a lot more.

Luckily, the voters agree with me and have always voted down having power run by the same suits that run Muni.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 7:04 am

DERP!

this is the best Muni coverage the SFBG has done. Since most of the time the paper never covers Muni and has a feeble minded knowledge of how it works. fucking stupid blogs do better than this shitty corporate owned piece of toilet paper. and the weekly kicks your asses on a weekly basis.

tick tock...the day the corporate masters say "ya basta!" to this joke of a paper is coming soon!!!!!!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 11:33 am

to pretending to care about the progressive cause does appear to indicate, to the neutral observor, that the SFBG staff know that the writing is on the wall, that the good, easy times are over, and that their mission was ultimately a failure.

They're probably worried more at this point about their pensions, hoping that their equity-invested mutual funds are doing well, even while criticizing those very same enterprises here.

Good news for them. S&P 500 is at an all-time high, and SF home prices are up 18% in the last year (good news for Tim anyway; Steven rents (oops)).

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 11:53 am

is how much better job Lyft or uber could probably do with public transport than does MUNI itself.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 5:13 pm

Uber and Lyft can only survive along the edges of the transit system, they could never provide the infrastructure.

Posted by Guest in the Machine on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

larger city with a far more sophisticated transit system - London - has largely privatized it.

At the very least, the major commute routes could probably be successfully privatized, while the less traveled routes could be served by private jitneys.

The best transit system in SF isn't run by Muni at all - it's called BART.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 6:09 am

And BART is privatized? When did this happen?

Posted by pete moss on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 6:25 am

far better transit system than Muni.

There is private transit in the Bay Area as well, by the way.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 7:05 am

Kind of impressive that such a halfwit can be so effective in disrupting discussion here, really. All it takes is perserverence and constant repetition.

Even completely asinine remarks such as the one above about BART serves the purpose of stealing oxygen from the room.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 7:10 am

I never said BART was private. I said it was better than Muni AND that it wasn't run by the city.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 7:20 am

Privatize, privatize, privatize...BART is best...privatize.

But it is not about privatization, no not at all.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 7:45 am

the Bay Area, and is pointedly not run by the city.

The best transit of any kind in the Bay Area ia private - cars, bikes, corporate, shuttle buses and airlines.

The worst is Muni although I've haven't ridden an Oakland bus.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 02, 2013 @ 9:18 am