We’ve been taking Muni to Japanese class on Sundays ever since the big bike breakdown during Pride. I had ambitions to ride this week, but the MinUte went to the shop for a derailleur adjustment yesterday (and I’ve been encouraged not to carry heavy loads like my son on the Breezer anymore). Muni is a convenient ride usually, but the N-Judah streetcar is closed for construction for much of the summer, including this weekend. The alternate routes are not so great. We took the bus to class on Sunday, but as usual, it took 20 minutes more than the N-Judah, I had to carry my son through much of the Financial District, he was exhausted by the time we arrived, and we ended up getting to class late anyway.
I just wrote that there were probably dozen other options to get around this city, so on the way home I decided to try one, sending ride requests to Homobiles, Lyft, and Sidecar. Sidecar didn’t have a car within range. Lyft and Homobiles both did, but Lyft got back to me first. Less than 10 minutes after we got out of class, Sam from Lyft swung by to take us home. I figured when I saw his car that that must be our ride. My son liked the mustache. (All the cars have pink mustaches. The drivers greet you with fist bumps. My first impression, that this service had a college student vibe, seems to have been on target.)
Sam, it turns out, moved to San Francisco last month from Oklahoma and is currently driving for Lyft as his full-time job. I was impressed that it was possible for him to make a decent living in a new city immediately upon arrival. Personally I wouldn’t have chosen a stick shift for driving around the city, and he says his leg gets pretty tired at the end of the day, but I assume it’s flatter in Oklahoma. He said that San Francisco was full of the nicest people he’d ever met, and I agree: I have lived in many cities (Boston, Chicago, Munich, Paris, Seattle, Minneapolis-St.Paul, etc.) and although the Twin Cities had a lot of Minnesota-nice, on most days San Francisco is the friendliest place I’ve ever been. Sam was a nice guy himself and a decent driver. He wants to keep driving even after getting a traditional office job, so if you call, maybe you can get a ride from him too.
This was my first Lyft ride, and I’m considering this whole month as an experiment of sorts in figuring out the costs of car-free life, so I didn’t worry much about the fact that Lyft doesn’t give an estimated cost for the trip until the end of the ride. If it turned out to be exorbitant, well, lesson learned: I wouldn’t use Lyft again. Howver this was not a problem. Our trip was (roughly) from the Financial District to the Inner Sunset farmers market. The rates we’ve found:
- Homobiles, at $1/minute, would have worked out to ~$20 (plus tip).
- Sidecar suggested a donation of $22, had a driver been available, for the same trip in reverse.
- A taxi ride for would be $32 (plus tip) according to the online fare calculator, assuming we could have found one, which is unlikely.
- Muni fare is a much more economical $2.75 for adult+child, but would have taken an extra half hour.
- Lyft’s charge for the same ride turned out, once we’d arrived, to be $12 (plus tip). Sold!
When we got home Matt said, “You’re back early! You must have gotten a ride back.” Yes we did. And I don’t doubt we’ll be getting occasional rides from Lyft again.