klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
[personal profile] klwilliams
Since May I've had jury duty every Thursday (except for that four-week period where we didn't have to go in, after being told that having a day off was so extremely rare as to be practically unheard-of), which means that I hop on Caltrain to the city (San Francisco, in this case). The Caltrain station in San Francisco is on 4th and King streets, which is a couple of (long San Francisco) blocks from the ball park but is not close to anything else. There are very nice express buses to the Financial Area and to the Twitter headquarters, and buses to other places. There is even a Muni trolley that takes you to the BART stations. However, none of those bus, Muni, or BART lines take me close enough to the federal building for me to want to use them. (Oh, I miss the days when I could walk long distances.)

Which leaves me with a dilemma: take a taxi or call Uber? From the train station there really isn't a good place to call for Uber to meet you, plus there is a seething mass of rail passengers scuttling past all around the station. One Uber drive told me that the official Uber pick up and drop off spot is just behind the taxi area, but I haven't put that to the test. So, when I arrive at the station I head to the taxi stand.

They've redesigned it. There is now a long bike rack along the street, right where the taxis are supposed to line up. The head of the taxi line is even with the line of bike racks (which are mostly full, and look like the kind that are rentable). There isn't a sloped sidewalk down to the beginning of the taxi line, which makes it hard with my walker. Also, the head of the taxi line isn't marked at all, so people play games when there aren't any taxis, and go to the end of the bike rack and try to grab taxis there as they pull up. Grrr.

Of course, when you get a taxi, who knows how capable the driver will be. Maybe half of the drivers I've had in the few months I've been going have been capable and on the ball. The others? One guy insisted on telling me all the times he'd been a stunt man for a superhero in a movie. He periodically asked "Where are you going?" and it was obvious he had no idea where I wanted to go or more than a general idea of how to get there. When we finally arrived, he told me to give him cash for what I thought the ride was worth. Um. Another day I got a guy whose meter wasn't working, and who knew but didn't tell me in advance. Other days I got guys who had a general idea of where I was going but no idea how to avoid the construction between. It drives me crazy, but the train station is set up for trains, buses, and taxis, so I take taxis to the courthouse.

At the end of the day when I leave the courthouse I summon an Uber driver. These drivers, without fail, have clean cars, are polite and know what they're doing, and use their GPS systems to tell them the fastest way to the station. I love Uber drivers.

I realize that Uber doesn't have a unionized system and really wants to replace everyone with completely self-driving cars, but in the meantime they're head and shoulders above the taxi drivers. I feel a little guilty about this, but not so much. If a competent Uber driver gets some money for giving me a quality ride vs. someone incompetent and potentially dangerous, I'll go with the quality ride.
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