Random header image... Refresh for more!

Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category


Low cost, electric scooter rental network adds location in the Richmond District

Scoot trainer Kelly at our orientation

More and more companies are enabling San Franciscans to get around town quickly and easily. Last year, the city implemented the Bay Area Bikeshare program, enabling point to point, short-term rides at affordable rates. And companies like ZipCar and City CarShare have been around for awhile now, making car rental close to home effortless and affordable.

Now there’s a new player in the cheap, green transportation game. Scoot Networks (scootnetworks.com), which has been in business for about a year, offers affordable rentals of electric scooters in San Francisco. Riders can pick up at one location and drop off at another for short trips, or rent the scooter for up to 48 hours (longer if you have a motorcycle license).

The latest location to open up is right here in the neighborhood near the corner of 7th and Clement. Our Scoot location houses 2-3 scooters at any given time, and can be accessed 24 hours a day.

Signing up for Scoot is easy through their website. Before you can start renting, you have to attend a useful, 45 minute orientation class with a Scoot team member. We took ours on Sunday in the parking lot on 8th Avenue near Clement, covering the basics of the Scoot app and the how-to’s of the electric scooter.

Scoot’s fleet is all electric, and the app (native for iOS, mobile web for Android) does much of the heavy lifting. Log on to the app, find an available scoot on a map of the city, and reserve it. Once you get to the pickup location, simply mount your phone into the holder (charger is included), log into the app, and tap “turn on” to power on the scooter. The scooter powers up remotely via GPS and the app shows you how much charge the scooter has, how fast you’re going etc.

Driving the scooter is easy – there’s no shifting or special controls to master. During orientation, you’re shown how to reserve your scoot, get it started, control it, park it, and when you’re done with the rental, return it to an official Scoot parking location. The app shows you where there is an available spot in the Scoot network to park.

A fully charged Scoot scooter has a range of 5-10 miles depending on your terrain, and it takes 3-5 hours for a full charge.

After completing training, our instructor Kelly advised us to follow the Scoot motto – Be safe! Be seen! Be nice! – and sent us on our way. I had a 35% charge and decided to head out to the Cliff House to see how the vehicle performed on some minor hills.

Riding a scooter is just plain fun, especially on a nice, sunny day. The scooters have a max speed of 25-30 miles per hour which when you’re riding it, feels like more than enough. I was surprised by its guts on a flat block and pleasantly surprised with its hill performance. The scooter also includes a helmet (two sizes to choose from) and a storage compartment if you need to carry some items on your ride.

The app has helpful features to keep you up to date on your scooter’s health. It displays your current charge which you can tap on to see the approximate mileage you have left. When I left 8th and Clement I had about 33% charge remaining, and after out to the Cliff House and back, was at 18%.

The app texted me when I reached 25% charge, urging me to seek out a place to recharge (tip: plugshare.com – web or app – is a great directory for such things). There are a few public charging stations in Golden Gate Park, but any standard electrical outlet will do.

Pricing for using the Scoot Network varies depending on the membership plan you choose and how many hours you keep your rental. The most basic plan is $5 per month, and the first half hour of every ride is just $3. Keep it longer than 30 minutes and the rate is $1.50 per half hour for the daytime, and $.25 for the nighttime hours. Other membership plans are available for $10 and $29 per month, with varying hourly rates.

If you get really hooked, you can rent a scooter 24/7 for $185 per month.

Like many vehicle sharing programs, you’ll find the most economy with Scoot on short, point to point rides. Maybe you don’t want to take Muni home from work so you pick up a Scoot downtown for the commute home. It does take some planning though as you want to make sure you have a Scoot location to return it to near your destination.

Daniel, another student in our orientation class, lives in the Richmond and says he is thinking about using the scooter to go back and forth to school. “It ends up costing me about the same as Muni on the short rides,” he said.

When you return your scoot, you put the helmet back in the storage compartment, plug in the charging unit, and lock the front wheel in place. Then just hit “End” in the app to conclude your rental. That puts your scooter back into the available rental network, where prospective riders can see its location and available charge.

We had a lot of fun on our scoot around the neighborhood, and could see this catching on as an easy, affordable way to get around town. Where would you scoot to?

UPDATE: Scoot Networks is offering Richmond Blog readers a discount. Signup for Scoot this week (by 2/23/14), use the promo code #RICHMONDBLOG and get $10 of riding credit.

Sarah B.

Screenshots from the Scoot app showing available scooters in red,
a reserved scooter, and estimated miles remaining on your charge.

4:45 am | Posted under Green, Transportation | 8 comments

MUNI service changes meeting 2/12; give feedback on commuter shuttle stops

Photo by Thomas Hawk

SFMTA is looking for feedback from the community on two transportation issues facing the city – changes in MUNI service lines including the 2, 28, 28L, and 38L lines, and which MUNI stops residents think would be best for the Silicon Valley commuter shuttles to use.

On Wednesday, February 12 from 6-8pm, the SFMTA will hold a public meeting at the Richmond District police station (461 6th Avenue) about proposed changes to the 2, 28, 28L, and 38L lines.

Muni is considering proposed service and route changes as part of the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP):

The proposed changes will modernize Muni and make it more efficient, reliable, safe and comfortable for its existing 700,000 daily passengers. Developed over several years of data collection, intensive planning and public outreach efforts, the TEP will restructure transit service on certain lines to improve efficiency and connectivity and implement transit priority changes on the most heavily used lines to give buses and trains more priority on our City streets.

The addition of a 5L Fulton line last Fall was part of the TEP. The SFMTA is proposing the following additional changes which will be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting:

2 Clement: Supplemental trolley coach service between downtown and Presidio Avenue to boost service lost by shutdown of 3 Jackson route. 2 Clement Service Variant proposes an alternative alignment that would use existing overhead wires for trolley coach service on the entire Sutter Street corridor. Instead of operating on Clement Street from Arguello Boulevard to Park Presidio Boulevard, the alignment would continue on California Street to Eighth Avenue south to Clement Street to Sixth Avenue. This service variant would include a terminal loop at Sansome Street in the Downtown area. See project document

38L Geary: Expand limited stop service to Sundays. Coordinate with Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Study currently underway, which aims to achieve significant travel time and reliability improvements. See project document

Changes are also being proposed to the 28 and 28L 19th Avenue routes, which run through the neighborhood on Park Presidio.

Late last month, the SFMTA Board approved an 18-month pilot program that will test sharing a limited number of Muni stops with commuter shuttles, many of which carry employees between the city and tech companies in the South Bay. Shuttles that pay for a permit and commit to complying with permit terms (following operating guidelines, sharing data, paying permit fees, etc.) will be authorized to use the shared stops.

The pilot program is set to start in July 2014 and the SFMTA is hosting an interactive map where residents can suggest locations for shared stops and provide information on conditions that they think should be considered in developing the network.

Click on an existing pointer in the map to add your feedback about a location, or create your own marker with feedback at additional stops.

The deadline to provide information via the interactive map is February 23. From that collected data, SFMTA engineers and planners will develop a proposed network as well as Muni operations and engineering needs.

Sarah B.

4:04 am | Posted under Muni, Traffic, Transportation | 15 comments

Mayor Lee wants to eliminate Sunday meter parking – should we?

It’s been a full year now that parking meters have been in effect on Sundays between 12noon and 6pm. When the SFMTA put the new policy in place, they claimed it was “to make sure that motorists can easily find a place to park in commercial areas, which is currently very hard on Sundays.”

At the time, their FAQ about the new policy didn’t say anything about increased revenues for the SFMTA, but we all knew that was really the reason.

And yesterday, Mayor Ed Lee confirmed that, but at the same time said he wants to eliminate the year old program.

“I’ve always felt uncomfortable with it, but Muni was suffering and we needed the money,” Lee said.

The SFMTA estimated that charging for meters on Sunday would bring in a little under $2 million which would help fund a struggling MUNI system. But how much did they really pull in during the first year?

Closer to $6 million according to Matier & Ross.

That’s because about half of the revenue on Sundays is coming from tickets when people forget to pay their meters or let them expire. The ticket for an expired meter can run as high as $72.

Now Lee says they’ve found other ways to finance MUNI so he’s gun-ho to rollback Sunday meter parking (he’s planning to ask voters to approve a $500 million bond in November to fund transportation).

I bet his colleagues at the SFMTA are thrilled with Lee’s desire to rollback the program and strip $6M out of their annual budget!

When we posted about Sunday parking last year, comments were mixed. A lot of people liked the idea because they would be able to park more easily when visiting commercial districts in the city on Sundays. But others were tired of the city’s nickel and diming.

What do you think? Should Sunday meter parking stay as is, or be eliminated again? Take the poll below and leave us a comment with your thoughts. Merchants, we especially want to hear from you!

Sarah B.

12:17 pm | Posted under Transportation | 31 comments

Photos: (Love?)Shack on wheels parked by Lincoln Park

Photo by James F.

We got an email from reader James F. earlier this week that said “There has been an unusual trailer parked on Clement street by Lincoln Park golf course around 38th – 40th avenues. It would make a good picture.”

So we said sure, send us a pic! And boy, he wasn’t kidding.

This looks like a full house on wheels. Ok, maybe more like a shack, but this is a pretty elaborate “trailer”. We particularly like the attic window detail and front porch.

Is this the Love Shack that the B-52s were singing about?

UPDATE: The owner, Alex B., has revealed himself in a comment: “Good Morning!!! That’s my house. I built that Tiny House back in NC. It’s name is Nod, which means to wander.”

Sarah B.

Photo by James F.

5:06 am | Posted under Transportation | 12 comments

Topless tour bus runs into street wires on 12th Avenue, injures five passengers

The Chronicle reported that five people were injured after the “topless” tour bus they were riding ran into some overhead wires while driving through the Richmond District on Friday afternoon.

The double decker bus, operated by Big Bus Tours, was heading north on 12th Avenue around 3:15pm.

As they crossed the intersection of Balboa and headed towards Anza, a low hanging wire first hit the bus’ windshield, popped over the windshield, and then collided with some passengers riding on the top level of the bus, which is open to the air.

Four passengers suffered cuts and bruises on their face and hands, and another woman, 67 years old, had injuries on her face and head. Four were taken to to San Francisco General Hospital, but all were released later that evening.

The Big Bus Tours driver had veered off the normal Park Presidio route to try and avoid snarled traffic on the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. The alternate route on 12th Avenue was a designated backup route and is regularly used by the bus company.

But what he didn’t expect was that one of the overhead wires on that block of 12th Avenue had come loose and was hanging lower than normal.

Thankfully there were no serious injuries. It’s not clear whose wire became dislodged or if it’s been fixed since Friday. But let’s hope another group of bus tourists doesn’t get a nasty surprise like this.

Sarah B.

5:24 am | Posted under Transportation | 12 comments

Large sinkhole opens up at Lake and 2nd Avenue during Monday commute

This afternoon around 5:30pm, a large sinkhole opened up at the intersection of Lake and 2nd Avenue. Neighbors reported that a car drove over the area and shortly after, the ground began sinking in on itself.

We stopped by the sinkhole at 6:45pm tonight, and helicopters from two news channels were still circling overheard.

A DPW crew was there inspecting the hole, and the entire intersection was closed off with police caution tape. No repairs were being made yet.

Several streets were closed off from traffic leading into the intersection, including the first and third blocks of Lake Street, and 2nd Avenue between California and Lake.

The surface of the sinkhole looked like it had been covered with fresh asphalt recently, and a neighbor on scene confirmed that the area had been patched in recent weeks.

She drove over the intersection earlier in the day with her husband, and remarked that the ground was uneven and appeared to be sinking.

It’s unclear what caused the sinkhole, but typically it’s due to a break in a sewer or water line that then erodes the surface under the street. When we visited the scene, there was no sign of water and no smell of sewage, but there was definitely an absence of foundation under the street.

UPDATE: KTVU, who was manning one of the choppers over the scene, reports, “It is believed that the sinkhole was caused by an old 21-inch sewer line failure.”

There were several gawkers at the intersection, mostly neighbors who lived close by and wondered why helicopters were circling overhead. Guess it’s a slow news day.

Try to avoid the area for tonight and probably tomorrow, as crews will be assessing and repairing the sinkhole which is pretty large.

Thanks to reader Stacy L. for the tip.

UPDATE 5/8/13: SFAppeal reports that it could take as long as 2 weeks to repair the sinkhole, which was caused by the rupture of a 19-inch brick sewer line.

Sarah B.

Photo by Stacy L.

7:06 pm | Posted under Transportation | 22 comments

RDDC hosting public forum on the Golden Gate Park bike lanes, Thurs. night

This Thursday night, the Richmond District Democratic Club is hosting a public forum/discussion on the new bike lanes in Golden Gate Park as part of their February meeting.

The RDDC has invited members from the SF Bicycle Coalition, pedestrian safety, seniors’ advocates, and the SFMTA to join the discussion.

The bike lanes sparked a lot of discussion here on the blog in an article last month entitled Bicycle Lane in Golden Gate Park Cause for Concern.

Comments about the new lanes were very mixed, and included negative reviews from cyclists who say the new configuration is detrimental to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

The RDDC meeting will be held this Thursday night in the Richmond District Police Station Community Room, 461 6th Avenue from 7pm until 8:30pm.

Sarah B.

5:02 am | Posted under Golden Gate Park, Safety, Transportation | 19 comments

Sunday metered parking goes into effect this weekend

It’s a new year and that means new ways for the SFMTA to grab revenue from residents and visitors to the city. Their latest brainchild goes into effect this weekend – metered parking on Sundays.

What was once considered a sacred right of San Franciscans – free parking meters on Sundays – will be a thing of the past beginning at noon this Sunday. Starting January 6, all parking meters across the city will be enforced from 12noon until 6pm every Sunday.

Here are a few extra tidbits about the new meter rules to keep in mind:

  • Sunday metered parking is enforced from 12noon until 6pm only.
  • Sunday meters will have 4 hour time limits. But per usual, you cannot “feed” the meter or exceed the four hour time limit.
  • Meters will be programmed for prepayment so you can pay even if you arrive before the meter is in effect. For example, if you arrive at 10 a.m. and need to stay until 2 p.m., you can pay at 10 a.m. for two hours starting at noon when the meter goes into effect. Prepayment can begin at 4:30 a.m. at any SFMTA meter as of January 6, 2013. If the meter is $2 per hour and you put $4 in the meter at 10 a.m., the meter will show payment until 2 p.m. (10 a.m. to 12 p.m. free and $2 each for 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.)
  • Meter rates on Sundays will be the same as those on Saturday
  • Meters that were already enforced on Sundays, such as those at Fisherman’s Wharf (7am – 7pm) and the Port of San Francisco (7am – 11pm), will still maintain their regular, posted hours.

Aside from wanting to make more money for the city (which they don’t really mention in their FAQ, ahem…), the SFMTA says they are enforcing Sunday metered parking to “make sure that motorists can easily find a place to park in commercial areas, which is currently very hard on Sundays.”

Although parking has been free on Sundays since meters were first installed in the 1940s, the SFMTA says that unlike back then, businesses are now open on Sundays, making parking just as tough on Sundays as it is on Saturdays. Hence the need for meters to help increase parking turnover.

If you’re tired of carrying rolls of quarters around or refilling your SFMTA parking card, you might want to check out the PayByPhone app which is available for iPhone, Android or Blackberry. Punch in the meter space number, enter the number of minutes you want, and submit your payment. The app will remind you via text message when you meter is running out and if you haven’t hit the meter limit yet, you can add more parking time from the app (without having to trek back to your car).

Yes, there is a $.45 service fee for every PaybyPhone app transaction but it sure beats a hefty ticket and scrounging for spare change in your glove compartment.

Sarah B.

5:03 am | Posted under Transportation | 38 comments