You may want to strap on some good walking shoes if you're planning to party-hop during this late-pandemic Pride Weekend in San Francisco, because things aren't exactly back to normal with public transportation or the world of rideshares.
Much digital ink has been spilled in recent weeks about the fact that Uber and Lyft have struggled to recruit new drivers as demand has soared with businesses and cities reopening nationwide. The result, along with a raising of rates to make up for all the lost rideshare revenue of 2020, is that the days of cheap Uber and Lyft rides home are long gone — and during high-demand weekend nights, and even some weeknights, rides that used to cost $9 can go for $30 or more.
In one instance last month, SFist saw a screenshot of $150-$200 fares from SFO into San Francisco — about a 500% markup from the before-times, albeit on a high-demand, holiday-weekend travel day. And as our own Joe Kukura wrote on BrokeAss Stuart two weeks ago, "Friday night I paid $56 for a Lyft ride of just 4 miles, and waited 20 minutes for the privilege."
The New York Times' Kevin Roose earlier this month referred to the inexpensive fares of the past as the "Millennial lifestyle subsidy" — a false sense of what things should cost that was being paid for by abundant venture capital, and business-growth plans that rely on luring customers with cheap prices, taking losses up front, and hiking up prices later when they have shareholders to keep happy. The same is true of Airbnb rentals these days, Roose notes, which are starting to make traditional hotel rates look a lot more attractive again after that company's IPO. And have you ordered from DoorDash recently?
So, for Pride Weekend this year, you don't see Uber offering free rides to LGBTQ landmark destinations like they did in June 2016. And while they have a corporate page devoted to how they're recognizing Pride Month and how they're "committing to helping empower a better experience for our LGBTQIA+ community, and particularly the transgender community," the best thing they could really do for the community would be keep prices down as more of us need to move around this weekend. More people are going to end up in unsafe situations at 2:30 a.m. if all the available rides cost $50.
Traditional taxicabs are one answer, but of course San Francisco never had enough of those, and the ride-hailing influx combined with the pandemic forced a lot of medallion owners out of business. Still, you may want to download the FlyWheel and YoTaxi apps just in case, as these are still viable options without surge pricing.
Revelers in the Castro this weekend are going to find the Muni underground closed at 10 p.m. these days — with only limited train service through Castro Station to begin with. And late-night bus service is infrequent.
Also, East Bay residents who used to use BART to avoid drinking and driving on Pride Weekend likely will be hopping into their cars, since BART service is still ending at 9 p.m. The last train through the Mission to the East Bay used to be around 12:15 a.m.
So, good luck out there! And plan your nights accordingly — with possible walking involved.
Photo: Darwin Bell