With BART service crippled today due to a messy labor dispute, one ridesharing app has seized the opportunity to pick up some new users by offering to literally fly them through their homeward commute via helicopter.
To capitalize on what were likely hundreds of thousands of web searches for "BART strike" this morning, ridesharing app Avego — basically the smartphone-based version of the casual carpool — registered the suddenly profitable domain name BARTstrike.com. Between the "Operators are standing by" call to action and the App Store download links, the site invites vistors to "Be an eagle, not a turkey" by rising above the BART strike chaos in their own private helicopter. The company says they will fly four commuters from San Francisco to the East Bay every day during the evening rush hour until the BART strike ends.
Avego CEO Sean O'Sullivan explains the promotional stunt in PR terms: "We were looking for a really visual way for people to understand the difference between being stuck in highway traffic like a turkey and flying by in the HOV lane like an eagle. Be an eagle, not a turkey.”
To add even more visibility to the promo, Avego will be announcing the four winners on a local radio station today at 5 o'clock. Sadly, the stunt doesn't revive the old SF-Oakland Helicopter Airlines route that flew out of a heliport on the Embarcadero in the late 60s and 70s. Flights go from the Hall of Justice helipad in SoMa to one of several locations in the East Bay We should also point out that the promo materials show the Golden Gate Bridge, where BART doesn't travel anyway, but makes for a great visual.
The stunt is already being called insensitive for its disregard for union members and the hundreds of thousands of commuters who had to find another way to work today. On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be a lot of sympathy for BART workers coming from the Bay Area commuters this morning.