SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — In an era of ride-sharing apps comes a new transit solution that’s heavily armed with data and ready to take on the public bus system.
Chariot, a San-Francisco startup commuter shuttle service, boasts an on-time performance of 94 percent with routes that are “twice as fast as Muni and seven times more affordable than taxi and Uber,” according to its website.
The bootstrapped startup launched earlier this year with a line from the Marina to downtown. A second route was launched in August that connects the Marina, Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights with SoMa and Caltrain.
Now the service is crowdfunding new lines to figure out which routes would be most profitable, unlike typical methods of transit planning that’s usually tied up in budget and political battles.
It takes time before cities like San Francisco can add or remove bus stops since every stop has its own constituency to ensure the most people benefit and that elderly or disabled residents don’t have to walk long distances.
Critics have raised concerns that Chariot and competitor Leap Transit, will cause the public to disinvest in the city’s municipal transit system.
But Chariot’s founder says their daily ridership is a small percentage of what Muni does on a daily basis with nearly 700,000 commuters per day in 2013. Instead, Chariot says it’s there to give commuters another affordable option to the overcrowded rush hour buses.
A ride in one of the 15-passenger vans run about $4 a ride or lower if passengers buy a full monthly pass for $93. Riders can track shuttles moving throughout the city and buy passes with a smartphone.
Chariot is also integrated with commuter benefits, allowing customers to use pre-tax dollars with savings of up to 40 percent.
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