I went to the art murmur last night, which was crowded as usual and full of amazing art that I’ll never be able to afford to purchase. (My girlfriend and I were coveting this incredible four panel painting at Johansson Projects that was going for $40,000.)
Well all this walking around and looking at art made us hungry so we were so excited to find a taco truck parked on 23rd. We waited in line for a long time and ended up missing two buses, but we didn’t care – the burrito and quesadilla were well worth the wait. My coworker ran into us as we were eating, and after quickly realizing what he was missing out on, went to order some tacos.
So we got to talking about how great it would be if there was a taco truck parked regularly somewhere in downtown Oakland, preferably near 14th and Broadway. It seems like there would be such great business there, especially since it’s basically impossible to find a decent burrito downtown (Senor Burrito is just a bit too far to walk to on a lunch break).
But taco trucks are really just a luxury. It would be nice to have them around all the time (especially at night when nothing’s open), but I can live without burritos in downtown.
You know what I can’t live without though? Taxis!
We checked NextBus as we finished eating and rushed over to the 1 bus stop, but for a few minutes it seemed like we had missed it. I kept thinking how absurd it was that I hadn’t seen a taxi drive by the art murmur all night. There were tons of potential customers waiting around, and it just made no sense. Our bus ultimately showed up so I didn’t have to rant to my girlfriend and coworker about the lack of taxis in Oakland. But really, no taxis at the art murmur makes no sense!
Taxis should not be a luxury – they are a necessity for Oakland nightlife.
But aside from at the few taxi stands (13th at Broadway and a few BART stations), you cannot depend on getting a taxi in Oakland, which makes it really difficult to plan a night out. Angela Woodall found this out earlier this week:
OK. Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried to get a taxi at night in the rain. I am afraid to even try after yesterday. We waited about 20 minutes for a taxi in the rain during DAYLIGHT. The driver who picked us up on Lakeshore Avenue where we were stranded assured me that few want to work at night (they’re scared, he said). So I am assuming night owls in Oakland need patience and good luck — unless they’re downtown. Taxis are plentiful there, at 13th and Broadway. There were at least six when we approached at noon, looking for a cab TO Lakeshore Avenue. The only one visible when we were ready to make the RETURN trip was a parked cab and another with an old lady in the back seat that we mistook for our own (luckily I was able to look up a taxi company online on my cell phone. Otherwise, how would anyone know what tel# to call?). We came running out of Peet’s in the pouring rain like two desperate taxi rats and the old woman kind of recoiled as we reached for the door handle. She must have thought we were going to hijack the cab. We had heard from the first driver, an Afghan man in Pashtun attire, that business is bad. Well, maybe it would get better if there were more f’in taxis.
Angela could not be more right about this – business will not improve until we have more f’in taxis! You know why? Most people in Oakland just assume that they won’t be able to take a taxi so they either walk, take the bus (if it’s still running), leave early, or drive (often drunk).
As Oakland nightlife expands, especially in downtown, we need a comprehensive transportation plan. And as much as I love buses, they are not the only essential component to transportation. All night buses are great, but sometimes I don’t want to wait an hour in the middle of the night to catch a bus.
So while 24/7 taco trucks in downtown Oakland would be a great addition to Oakland nightlife, 24/7 taxi service is essential for Oakland nightlife. There have been preliminary city hearings on updating the city’s taxi plan and rules so I hope the city moves on these concerns and proposals quickly. Oakland nightlife can’t wait much longer!