Grassroots hitchhiking system called Casual Carpool is a $1 substitute for Uber


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You know it’s good reporting when they get the “Listen to NPR” rule right.


I’m assuming you took the automated train from the airport to the Coliseum station proper. There’s a $6 charge each way just for that automated segment. Without that the most expensive round trip to 16th St. would be from Pittsburgh/Bay Point at $13.20.

Why are train tickets so expensive?

One is reminded of the “slug lines” in the VA suburbs of DC.



Grassroots hitchhiking system called Casual Carpool is a $1 substitute for Uber

Is it though? Does it include background checks, driver identification, and a way to report and critique drivers and passengers?

It’s glorified hitchhiking, and comes with all the risks that hithchiking entails.


When I see this, it makes me proud of the USA.


I cant speak for the Oakland airport but SFO absolutely charges more to ride the BART in and out because cheapskates cant just take a cab but take up on average 1 extra space worth of luggage–sometimes a lot more. Not a big deal? Remember that video of the Japanese train where people are being pushed in from outside? BART is nearly that bad during rush hour. Meanwhile Joe jet-set sits back surrounded by a fortress of luggage and thinks not my problem.


This always kills me. It’s like “Do not dare to address me, you maggot. I’m only barely tolerating you so that I can ride in the HOV lanes.”


It’s not nearly as risky as your standard hitch-hiking. You almost never would be alone with just the driver (they need at least two passengers to be a carpool). If it’s a two seater you can always take the next ride. And there are always witnesses when you get in the car since other people are waiting. Plus, hitch hiking isn’t really statistically dangerous, especially at commute times.

This system is a direct response to Bridge tolls and Bart prices… Uber is no where near an economic alternative, just as a cab isn’t either.

I would prefer that this system be regulated– maybe just a clean driving record gets you a carpool driver pass or something, and you only get in a car if they’ve got one. Better still would be dedicated bus lane with tons of vans runing custom routes and going across the bridge. But for now, this works great as-is for both the drivers and passengers.


See also “cab hacking” or “to hack a cab” in Baltimore.


IIRC Uber was basically this service when it first appeared.

What it is now is partially a direct result of learning what it really means to accept rides from random strangers.

Also money.


It would cost me $85 to get a cab from SFO to my house. Guess I’m a cheapskate for opting for the $10 BART ride instead. I don’t like taking up room with my luggage either.


Most cities add a surcharge to their airport mass-transit options. SFO, JFK, even international airports. They also add pick-up surcharges to taxis, limos, Uber, and others, and I think it comes down to “because they can.” It’s an income source allowed by federal regulations, and probably funds a lot of other marginal services (like parking shuttles).


One unfortunate incident happened near my house. The entire line of waiting riders was robbed at gunpoint…


I’m the first person mentioned in this WSJ article. It was a lot of fun being interviewed for it, since I love casual carpool.

@mysterr I’ve participated in Casual Carpool, almost solely as a rider, for almost six years, and have never had an experience that I considered very risky or dangerous. I can’t say the same about some of the taxi rides I’ve taken in the past. I’ve talked to a lot of other riders and drivers, and none mentioned any risky experiences, beyond what normally happens in rush hour traffic. Of course, this is by no means a scientific study, and I have read on local casual carpool websites about some pretty bad experiences. But, if you hung out at Fremont and Howard for a few hours on a weekday morning and saw just how many people arrived by casual carpool, you’d expect that not every ride could possibly be all NPR and safe driving.

@dfaris It’s really not like that at all. Drivers are almost always very nice, welcoming, and grateful. But you’re in their car and they are paying for the gas and the insurance and doing all the driving in traffic. I don’t want to distract them. But when they’re okay with talking and the other rider doesn’t mind, I’ve had lots of great conversations with drivers. I’ve ridden and talked with one driver so many times I can tell you about his wife, his kids, his favorite sports, where he went to college, etc. It’s like seeing an old friend when I get in his car, but all of our interactions have been in only these thirty or so minute drives into the city, once every few months. I’m sure there’s an idea for a movie script in there somewhere.

NPR isn’t really the rule, at least for my pickup spot. I’d say that KQED or KALW are on less than 20% of the time. I’ve heard just about anything on the radio, including sports, though rarely talk radio. Also, a really wide variety of pre-recorded from cellphones connected to their car audio system. Two different drivers always play French cabaret music.

And then there are the two different guys who listen to audiobooks, though they always ask for permission. I rode with the same guy twice in a week, so at one point I could tell you about two parts of the plot from a Game with Thrones novel.


I used to see a variation of this in the late 80s in Alameda - school kids using public transit to get to school (me) at shared bus stops alongside commuters taking buses to SF. Nearly every day, one or more cars would pull up and roll down the window and ask if a random adult wanted a ride over the bridge.


[quote=“tgarretteaton, post:10, topic:96588”]Better still would be dedicated bus lane with tons of vans runing custom routes and going across the bridge. But for now, this works great as-is for both the drivers and passengers.

Wired had a good story about a company that tried to do something like that in Kansas City recently.

And Via is an app-based dynamically routed transit service that seems to be doing quite well in NYC, and I think is the future of public transit in areas that don’t have sufficient critical mass to justify subway-style true mass transit. It’s much more efficient than a once-every-20-minutes bus, for example.


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