Tag Archives: taxis

Celebrating World Carfree Day… in a taxi

22 Sep

Today is World Carfree Day, which for me, is not so different from any other day, since most days I get around by walking and taking the bus. So when I was reminded of the day by TransForm on Twitter yesterday, I struggled a bit with how I would celebrate and what I might write here.

I’ve already gone on and on about how awesome it is to not own a car and how much I love getting around on the bus and by foot (even if sometimes it’s challenging and frustrating). But the truth is that the bus system and my feet are not enough. There’s one thing that allowed me to give away my car, and it might seem odd, but that thing is actually another car. Specifically, a taxi. Continue reading

What I’d like to bring from DC to Oakland

25 Nov

Whenever I travel, I can’t help but think about how the cities I’m visiting are similar or different to Oakland. I’m usually part nostalgic for Oakland (I can’t help myself from telling everyone I meet how great Oakland is), but I also reflect on how Oakland can improve.

On my trip last week to Washington, DC and College Park, MD, I ran into several things that I wish I could have brought back with me to Oakland:

  • Taxi Service!: You already know how much taxi service sucks in Oakland. I’m not suggesting that we could ever support as robust a service as is available in DC proper, but even the suburbs beat us. I took cabs several times while in College Park. At the Metro station, there was always a cab (or several) waiting. I didn’t run into any other taxi stands, but whenever I called for a cab, one arrived within 5-15 minutes, no matter the time of day.
  • Bar Pilar: There’s a lot of excellent food in DC, but Bar Pilar is my new favorite place to grab a drink and something to eat. Whether you’re looking for a can of Tecate or a shot of Patron, this is the place to go. The food menu consists almost exclusively of small plates, which showcase seasonal produce and mostly organic, local ingredients. Everything we ate was excellent – butternut squash soup, roasted potatoes with garlic aoli, a mix of mushrooms with leeks, honey glazed carrots, and cauliflower in a creamy sauce (and my companions said the steak and fish were yummy too). But the atmosphere is what had me going on and on about how I wanted to clone this restaurant, add a bit of Oakland style, and bring it across country with me. Take a look for yourself:




  • The Dupont Current: I picked up this local paper and was thoroughly impressed by it. Apparently, it’s one member of a family of four local DC papers that together cover the western half of the city. The paper covered local political and community issues in depth, including several detailed articles on commercial and residential development projects, a front page piece about a bicycle safety bill, and several brief commentaries on local schools. Though we have several print publications in Oakland, I don’t feel like any of them do this good a job covering local political issues. Oh well – at least we have lots of great blogs to keep us updated.
  • Bus Frequency: I’m by no means an expert on DC bus schedules, but my overall experience has been that they arrive frequently and often on time. The 42 is the line I take most often, from my boss’s apartment in Mt. Pleasant to my office on M Street. I’ve never waited longer than 2 minutes (it comes every 5 minutes!), and it drops me off less than a block from my destination. I don’t think we’ll ever attain this kind of bus frequency in Oakland until Bus Rapid Transit is implemented.

I’m guessing most people will be traveling this week for Thanksgiving so while you’re out and about around the country, take a moment to think about what you’d like to bring back to Oakland (or what you hope will never, ever come to Oakland) and feel free to share those thoughts here in the comment section.

Taco Trucks & Taxis

8 Nov

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!