Lessons from SF’s transit system from a trip this weekend:
1. Love the streetcars on the Embarcadero. Old, beautiful, and every one is packed. Unless there’s some bottleneck in capacity they need more. They were somewhat infrequent, which is strange when trolleys are leaving passengers on the curb.
2. Ditto cable cars. But I’m sure if they could add cars to the line they would.
3. Found myself being a change fumbler on the streetcar. Didn’t have enough change ($2.25), so I put in a $5. The bus driver said I way overpaid and should have asked her first (not clear what she could have done – sign says “exact change”). Gave me two transfers – as if that helps me. Lesson: at least for tourists, cash payment can be good. I paid more than double (happy to do so), and didn’t actually cost any time (stood aside while I figured this out).
4. After I paid my $5, a woman behind me handed me a handfull of change and asked me to pay it and get her a transfer. Dropped it in the slot and it was $0.47. Driver asked who did that and passenger just looked down until another passenger pointed her out. Then she asked for a transfer and the driver said “not for $0.47!” Lesson: yeah, stuff like that happens everywhere.
5. Bike share! Because my family was on the streetcar I had just missed, I thought I’d rent a bike (rack is at the station) and try to catch up. It was $9, but would have been worth it for the experience. After having to press countless buttons including my phone number, zipcode, etc (all on an unresponsive touchscreen) the next streetcar was approaching and I cancelled out (which still took 3 unresponsive button presses). Lessons: Price not competitive, user interface needs a lot of work and lost me as a customer.