Though we've already bemoaned the pompously named Chariot that caters to Marina folk, everyone seems to want a seat on the bus privatization bus.
With Loup, whose name is awful similar to the other (currently offline) private bus service for Marina-ites Leap Transit, a fleet of commercially licensed, privately owned sedans will follow traditional bus routes, picking up commuters. These will of course be known as "loups," and these "loups" will adjust for weather, accidents, and traffic.
"Loup is public transportation-meets-private car service," says cofounder Abtin Rostamian. Rates are pre-determined, $2.50 to $6 based on the route, and available via app. Loup will take 20% of the cut and promises no surge pricing. That said, I can think of another bus service that doesn't have surge pricing.
And Rostamian has some artificial-intelligence cred on his resume, which leads him to hint, "Obviously, long-term, the driverless car is very interesting, but right now we're just looking to create increasingly optimized routes."
As rideshares are to taxis, so new private bus services are to Muni that is to say they're capitalizing on San Francisco's frustrations with its existing services. But the key difference is that unlike taxis, Muni is part of San Francisco's public infrastructure.
Of course, as we noted earlier, much of that infrastructure was once composed of private bus and even trolley lines. Jitneys have roamed our streets before, but fearing privatization, the city stopped issuing new licenses in 1972, and in 1978 voters passed Proposition K, ending the resale of jitney licenses.
So, are Loup and Chariot just harmless overflow services that will keep Muni from overcrowding, or is this a dangerously slippery slope that encourages disinvestment in Muni?