"Akit is the man. He knows Clipper." (spenta)
"It’s a fantastic blog for any San Franciscan."
"Your blog is always on point, and well researched!" (Nina Decker)
"Everyone's favorite volunteer public policy consultant..." (Eve Batey, SF Appeal)
"You are doing a great job keeping on top of Translink stuff. Keep up the good work!"
(Greg Dewar, N Judah Chronicles)
"...I don't even bother subscribing anywhere else for my local public transportation info. You have it all..."
(Empowered Follower)
"If anyone at City Hall wants to make public transit better for all San Franciscans, it would be wise to follow Akit religiously...
or, better yet, give him a job."
(Brock Keeling, SFist)

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Clipper Card Coming to Apple Pay and Google Pay


That's right, Akit is out of retirement for just this special story, after more than four years of not blogging.  How are you?  I've been doing well; in the last four years, I've got a job promotion with a decent pay raise, and I've been working remotely from home for nearly a year due to this virus.  Hoping I can get the vaccine in the coming weeks and eventually return to in-office work.

If you read the blog entry title, the Clipper card will be available with Apple and Google Pay starting Spring 2021.  If you want to read the articles, see the Apple Pay article and Google Pay article.

For you very long time loyal readers, I've been blogging about the Clipper card, and it's former name, the TransLink card for such a long time.  Since not much has changed, I can help provide some insight in what your mobile phone wallet will do for you.  However, since I own an iPhone and Apple watch, information about how Google Wallet may be limited.

Want to sign-up for an email notification when Clipper is ready for Apple Pay?  Click here to go to Apple's website to register.

Let's look at the benefits and features that will come with Clipper Card on Apple Pay:
  1. No more carrying a plastic card with you.
  2. For Apple users, it will be available on Apple Watch and iPhone.
  3. Express Transit will be supported on Apple Pay.  What this means, there is no need to open your Apple wallet on your phone or watch.  Just tap the phone or watch on the reader and it will automatically open the app and scan.  But it does require you to activate this feature on your wallet's settings.  One thing to note, if you just restarted your phone or just put your watch on, you need to authenticate yourself with your passcode to have the Express Transit feature on standby for your next ride.
  4. Express Transit also works if you are in power reserve mode, but only on iPhone.  Power reserve mode is when your phone shuts down due to low battery, but will function as your Clipper card for up to five hours until you can recharge your phone.
Here's some possible features that may come with the Clipper Card, but this comes from learning about how this works from reading and watching videos about the Suica card which is used in the Tokyo, and WMATA's SmarTrip card used in the Washington D.C. area:
  1. You can add cash funds or possibly passes by purchasing them on your phone, and would be available for instant use.  There would be no need to reload your virtual card at a ticket vending machine, such as at all BART stations, or visit a Walgreens or retail store.
  2. You will be able to transfer your blue plastic card's data, cash purse, passes, etc. to your virtual wallet by allowing your phone to scan your card.
We've seen the benefits, now the problems:
  1. You can only add your Clipper card to one device, either your iPhone or Apple Watch, not both.  You can have it on both, if you have separate cards.  Hard choice, phone or watch?
  2. If the ability to transfer your plastic card's data to your mobile device is allowed, once transferred, your plastic card is void.  You cannot use both the mobile wallet and plastic card. Please note, this is coming from the SmarTrip website; I would assume it will happen to plastic Clipper cards once migrated to your phone or watch.
  3. If your card needs to be read by a fare inspector or any person who uses a handheld reader, such as a cable car conductor, Express Transit feature on Apple Pay won't work; you'll need to open up your Apple wallet on the device you have your card on.
  4. The Commuter Check debit card is not supported on Apple Pay because I just tried adding it.  Unless if Clipper has a separate app that someone can manually enter their card number, you may not be able to reload Clipper card purse funds or buy passes using the commuter benefits card via your phone; you would have to do it at a vending machine or retail store.
  5. If your watch or phone is dead or if you have a battery that isn't holding its charge, maybe stick to your plastic card.  Non functioning devices means no working Clipper card.
  6. If you ride Muni occasionally, take at least two rides, and don't ride the cable cars (and they are not operating due to COVID), it's better to use Muni Mobile's day pass for $5, as a single ride on Clipper and Muni Mobile is $2.50.  Clipper cards don't have the $5 pass available to purchase.
  7. It is unknown if you can migrate your SF State ID card with Clipper (for the Gator Pass) to your phone.  It is also unknown if you can migrate a Senior card, RTC discount card, and other discounted cards to Apple and Google Pay.
  8. One last thing, it's highly unlikely that contactless credit and debit cards, including Apple and Google Pay credit/debit cards will be accepted on Clipper.  The major weakness of the Clipper card system is that all card readers on buses are not connected through cellular service 24/7 to verify if the card is legit or stolen.  Clipper and formerly TransLink has been in use for nearly 20 years.  There's planned 2.0 upgrade coming in the future.
Okay, what would Akit do?  I have the blue plastic adult Clipper card, iPhone, Apple Watch, and a commuter debit card. (Remember, you may not be able to have the same card on the iPhone AND Watch)
  • My option would likely be my Apple Watch.  Especially since face masks aren't friendly with Face ID on iPhone, Apple Watch seems to be the easiest choice, I can just tap the watch over the reader.  Although, in the case of Muni metro and BART gates, my watch is on my left wrist, so I'll have to move my arm over to scan it.  I would also activate Express Transit so I don't have to open up the wallet on the watch and scroll to the Clipper card.
  • A possible problem is using my commuter debit card as a funding source to reload my virtual Clipper card, since my debit card can't be added to my Apple wallet.  Hoping they will have a new Clipper card app that lets me add funds by manually adding a commuter benefits card.
  • For longer day trips within San Francisco, I would not use Clipper, and instead use Muni Mobile for their $5 day passes (no cable cars) or $13 one day passport that includes cable cars.
    • Cool tip: Once cable cars resumes service, it's $8 for a single ride.  Two cable car rides costs more than an all day unlimited Muni Mobile one day passport good for all the cable cars, buses, light rail, and historic streetcars you want.
Want to see how a contactless transit card works?  Watch this video of the Suica card on Apple Pay is being used at a fare gate at a train station in Japan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNzi5b1Rsxc&feature=youtu.be

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Worst and Absurd Public Transit I've Taken on a 4th of July Holdiay Weekend

Improved Muni on Rock Photo
Akit comes out of retirement... once again.  I felt the need to blog because this weekend just sucked trying to get around the city.  This has to be the strangest 4th of July weekends I've been through involving public transportation.

Saturday: The scariest stuff I've seen...

I'm waiting for a 47 or 49 bus at Van Ness and Sacramento and I'm looking at the diagonal corner where a mentally ill woman is harassing some people sitting on the street.  One of them sitting down decides to chase her and the woman quickly runs away, by walking in between two parked vehicles and into the street.  Less than a second later when she runs into the street, she gets hit (sideswiped) by a passing Muni bus, and I was hoping she just didn't get killed.  The Muni bus pulled over across the street and I hurried to call 911.

Ugh, the 911 operator is telling me to get to the lady quickly; is the guy nuts? I'm not running through several lanes of active traffic while I'm on a diagonal corner.  Fortunately, the fire truck arrived and I'm telling them what I saw.  The lady who was hit was lucky, she was walking around when the medics found her.  If she entered the street less than a second prior, she would have hit the front of the bus and likely be dead.

Sunday: I experienced one too many moments of absolute absurdity on Muni

(1) I'm on the 47-Van Ness bus going from Market Street towards the Wharf and the bus pulls over to pick-up a wheelchair passenger.  I and another passenger are sitting in the designated wheelchair spot, so we both get up, and I'm trying to look for the lever to raise the seat.  The bus driver insisted he wants to do it, but since I'm standing there, I insist I handle it.  He re-emphasizes that he has to do it because he claims he'll "be fired if you get hurt."

This is one of those "what the fuck" moments when this society is so damn afraid of litigation, and so I let the damn driver do the seat, while all the passengers laugh with me at the amount of absurdity that just happened.  It's not like I'm grabbing a wrench and fixing a broken bus.  Hell, you are more likely to get injured lifting your bike on the Muni bike rack or ride the running board on a Cable Car than lifting a seat on a bus like any nice person would do.

The driver sounded pissed while trying to act nice when I insisted can do it.  But I had the last word right before I exited when a lady was asking the driver why he didn't stop at California Street, so I told her the agency cut some stops on Van Ness to speed up the bus line, but this driver is going so damn slow on Van Ness (like there's no traffic and he's going like snail) it's an insult.

(2) Later that day, I'm taking a F-Market bus substitute and it stops in front of the Market Street Railway museum on Don Chee Way.  And the bus just sits there, for five minutes while the driver bails the bus.  He's trying to look for his relief driver and all of us are sardine packed in the bus wondering WTF is going on?  Eventually he kicks everyone off the bus to ride the next one and the Muni supervisor wearing blue isn't doing shit or even apologizing to the passengers.  Yeah, taxpayer dollars being used well.

Monday: Golden Gate Transit just SUCKS

I wanted to visit Sausalito, so I decided to pick-up the 30 bus at the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza because it takes less time than going all the way downtown for the ferry boat.  Things went okay until the driver didn't take the Alexander Avenue exit to go downhill to Sausalito, and the driver drops us off at some odd Marin City bus transit center.  The driver said to everyone to catch the 17 bus which after waiting 30+ minutes never arrived.  Hell, two Muir Woods shuttles came by, and some other buses, all while any Sausalito bound buses never came by; only until a West Marin Stagecoach van came by to pick us all up.  I only had less than an hour to enjoy Sausalito before I had to take the ferry back, otherwise I'd be stuck in the town much longer waiting for another boat.

You know what's bad about Golden Gate Transit?  EVERYTHING.  The 30 bus driver didn't disclose anything to the passengers about not stopping in Sausalito.  That alone would have saved me time and money because I would have gone somewhere else.  And waiting at the Marin bus hub was a fat insult, just nothing was coming by and all the buses arriving was LATE AS HELL.  But what about NextBus?  IT DOESN'T EXIST!  They can afford wifi on buses, but not GPS technology to tell us when the bus is going to arrive.  Oh, and trying to call for assistance to Golden Gate Transit's hotline?  The phones are not answered on holidays.

Seriously?  Golden Gate Transit is a flat out piece of crap.  At least the Golden Gate Ferry service is worth it, because it arrives on-time, it leaves on-time, they have nice employees.  I don't know how people can tolerate Golden Gate Transit, it's makes Muni look awesome in comparison to this trash.

And that's my three day weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

MuniMobile Smartphone Payment App is Now Available for Everyone

Contrary to the news media saying next week Monday, the MuniMobile fare payment app is now available for download on the iTunes App store for everyone to use.

If you have an iOS phone, go to the App Store and search for "MuniMobile."  If you are on a computer, click here to go to Apple's iTunes Preview site to read about the application.

Since I don't own an Android, I can't verify if it's available.

As I was a beta tester, I was able to play around with the app and I did buy a couple of single ride fares to try it out.  I didn't encounter any fare inspectors, but all the bus drivers knew what it was and let me through without asking any questions.

The only real odd thing about the app is the Muni logo is backwards when the animated bus passes by from the left to right; the MuniMobile ads posted on the buses show the bus going the other direction with the logo facing correctly.

To learn more about my experiences with the MuniMobile application, visit my other blog entry.

Lastly, if you want a personal recommendation, stick to your Clipper Card; it's the only method to get inter-agency transfer discounts or free Muni rides from Daly City BART.  MuniMobile is better for tourists (especially the Passports on sale), people who rarely ride Muni or wants to pay for their rides with a credit card, and as a backup fare option if you run out of Clipper Card money.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Testing San Francisco MuniMobile Fare App

I haven't posted in over a year as I went into retirement from blogging, but Akit's out of retirement for a special edition blog post!

I was recently selected out of 1,600 applicants to participate in the SFMTA/Muni Mobile Fare App beta testing.  From what I've read around, about 800 people were selected to be Muni's guinea pigs for this project.

This reminds me of the days when I was a pilot tester for TransLink (old name for Clipper).

Let's give you folks who didn't sign up or selected a taste of how this all works.

First of all, you need to have a phone operating on Apple iOS or Android.  Once Muni releases the program to the whole public, you can download it at your application store for free.

When you first use the app, you can choose to register for an account or you can look around the app.  But if you want to buy fares, you must register for an account.

The Ticket Choices
You get to pick a variety of options, including:
1: Basic single fare
2: Single ride on a Cable Car
3: 1, 3 or 7-day Passports (valid on all of Muni, including Cable Cars)

The photo on the right is for adult fares, but you can also select Senior/Disabled/Medicare, Youth, and SF Paratransit options too.

The prices are all the same as paying cash or Clipper, and has no credit card surcharge tacked on.

Once you select the item(s) you want to purchase, you simply use the app to pay and it will direct you to a PayPal site to handle it.  You can choose to pay with your personal credit or debit card, or if you have a balance on your PayPal account, you can use that too.

Use Your Ticket
Once your payment is confirmed, your ticket is stored in the "My Tickets" menu.  Click the ticket you want and it will give you one last chance to back out.  If you want to use the ticket, click "use ticket" and the ticket activates immediately.

If you are using a single fare ticket, you should only activate it when you see the bus or train arriving.  90 minute clock immediately activates, and this will also be your Muni transfer; the driver will not give you a paper transfer.

Once the ticket is activated, it will show an animated screen with blue skies, clouds (or is it Karl the Fog?), Sutro Tower, and the Muni vehicle driving by every so often.  The expiration will show on the top, and the type of ticket purchased on the bottom.

Just show the screen to the driver to verify it's a legitimate fare, take a seat and relax.

If you touch the screen, the background colors will change.  GlobeSherpa who made the application must have done this to prevent people from fraudulently using the app by playing a video clip or showing a screenshot.

If you touch the QR code on the lower right corner, it will show a large QR code that fare inspectors can use to verify your ticket.  I haven't encountered one yet, but who knows if they will carry a device to verify the QR code or not.

You can also close out the app and easily return to the Muni app to restore the ticket.

Expired Ticket
Once it expires, the ticket still looks like it's valid, but it's not when you compare the top time of 7:55PM to the bottom time of 7:54PM (left photo), but once you return back to the main menu by clicking on the left arrow on the top and then restore the ticket, it will definitely say: "EXPIRED" (right photo).  It's an odd quirk, hopefully something that can be fixed.

In Summary
Why you should use this app:
  1. When you don't have cash or your Clipper card on hand, it's an easy way to pay for your Muni fare.
  2. You want to pay for Muni with a credit card.
  3. If you don't want to disclose your credit card info, you can load some funds in your PayPal account and pay for Muni that way.
  4. You can buy Muni passports without visiting one of the few locations in the city for them.
  5. You can buy Cable Car tickets without hassling the conductor.
  6. It's eco friendly because you don't get a paper transfer or receipt in return.
  7. Faster than Clipper because once you pay for the ticket, you can activate it immediately.  If you order something on Clipper via their website, it can take up to five days to activate.
  8. If you activate your single fare ticket after 8:30PM, your expiration will be 5AM the next day (a.k.a. late night transfers).  Clipper cards and those paper tickets at the metro vending machines DON'T give you late night perks, just the lame 90 minutes.

Why you may want to avoid this app:
  1. For single rides, you are better off paying cash to the bus or metro operator and getting a paper transfer.  You'll always get a minimum of 90 minutes, but most hand torn paper transfers have much longer expiration, sometimes even four hours.
  2. If you transfer from BART, Golden Gate Ferry, Golden Gate Transit, or SF Bay Ferry to Muni you don't get the 50 cent inter-agency discount with the app, it's only good on the Clipper card.  Make sure to pay for your ferry, BART, or GGT fare with your Clipper card, and use the same card on Muni to get your discounted ride.
  3. If you transfer from Daly City BART to Muni, you get two free rides, one away from the station on the 14R, 28, 28R, 54, and 57, and one going back on the same bus lines within 24 hours, but it's only on Clipper.
  4. They don't sell monthly passes, it's only on Clipper.
  5. Prepaid tickets have an expiration date.  I bought mine on October 23rd, but if I don't use it, it will expire on January 21st.  Not a good idea to hoard those tickets.
  6. You have a smartphone with a lousy battery.  If the battery dies, you can't use the app!
  7. If you have a credit card that gives you a bonus when using it for travel (e.g. 2% on travel vs. the standard 1%), you won't likely get that bonus because it is charged through PayPal.
  8. If you use a pre-tax commuter benefit debit card, it looks like it's not supported on the app.  It's because the credit card processing is done through PayPal which may not be acceptable to the required federal standards for commuter debit cards.  Continue using your debit card on Clipper.
CORRECTION: Commuter benefit debit cards are accepted as per SFMTA's website: https://www.sfmta.com/getting-around/transit/munimobile/munimobile-frequently-asked-questions#BuyingTickets

However, do not link a your commuter debit card via your PayPal account.

Suggestions on Improvements:
Muni and GlobeSherpa can do a handful of things to make it better.
  1. Make the expiration easier to read.  A light blue sky background with white letters is hard on people, especially for the operator to read.  White letters is fine, but some black shadow for the letters makes it easier.
  2. I was expecting some more backgrounds in the animation.  Why just Sutro Tower?  Why not Coit Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge?
  3. When a ticket expires, it needs to automatically grey out and the orange bar is shown saying EXPIRED.  It should not be the normal background.
  4. Allow commuter benefit debit cards be accepted to purchase tickets.
  5. Fingerprint scan option to open the app, especially helpful to prevent your kids from accidentally activating your tickets.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Clipper Card on iPhone's Apple Pay Service - Could it Really Happen?

Greetings readers, it's been a while since I've blogged.  I'm still happy and well, but I've been sticking to my public social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram more often.  I thought I'd write a blog entry today because of what's been happening in the news for the past week.

The announcement of the next generation of iPhones, in particular Apple Pay, is really attracting a lot of news these days as the next cool way for people to pay for stuff at their favorite big retailers without pulling out their plastic credit card.  And while the Android platform has been using their NFC chips for a good while to be able to pay with credit cards and read NFC tags, with Apple playing along, that puts a huge chunk of the smartphone market able to now use NFC technology.

But what really intrigues me about the big evolution of NFC to be capable on Apple devices is the opportunity for public transportation to play a role in being a part of it.  Simply put, will the Clipper Card be an option for Apple Pay and Android?

Here's the pros if the Clipper Card was available as an option for people to scan their phone to a Clipper Card reader:
  1. No more carrying a plastic Clipper Card in your wallet.  Just put your phone to the reader to handle your fare/pass transaction.
  2. Be able to instantly view your card's balance, transfers with the time it expires, and your passes.
  3. Be able to instantly view your ride history, and have instant proof of payment on hand for fare inspectors.
  4. Using the Clipper Card app, be able to add card value or buy passes using a linked credit card with instant available use, without the horrible five day waiting period currently in use for people who buy online for their plastic card.  Read about the five day rule here.
  5. Also, using the Clipper Card app, people can also purchase day passes like for Muni.  Muni does sell the passports for Clipper, but people still prefer the scratch-off ones or buying it from the Cable Car conductor.
  6. Also, there could be an option for people to not use a Clipper Card, and instead use a registered credit/debit card to make their one-time transit fare payment.  It might be a cool perk for those with pre-tax commuter benefit debit cards to simply tap their phone and just deduct the balance from the card; no more need to load the money to a Clipper card, just touch and pay.
But there are some cons:
  1. It may not be possible to have Clipper do this.  The Clipper Card system itself was one of the first smartcard systems ever in the United States, and as of today, the system is outdated when compared to other agencies using smartcards.  When Clipper first started, it started as the TransLink card program which the MTC awarded a contract to ERG, a leader in smartcard technology for transit systems.  But many years later, Cubic, a titan in the transit technology market, bought out ERG and took over its contracts, including TransLink/Clipper.  The folks at Cubic had an uphill battle to get their products to properly function with the thousands of ERG cards and technology in use, such as the BART and Muni fare gates (Cubic products).  Cubic had to take the right route, they couldn't remove the ERG products already wired and installed and start from scratch (that would cost a ton of money), so they made a hybrid system so both ERG products and Cubic products work together.  Since the Clipper system is outdated, it may not be able to take mobile phone payments. 
  2. If the above is true, we may have to wait until 2019-2020 for the next generation of Clipper Card technology to have the features.  The expected end of life for the currently installed technology is to end roughly around 2019 and that's when the contract with Cubic is to expire.  The Metropolitan Transportation Commission intends to put in the next generation of Clipper by starting from absolute scratch, instead of preserving the old infrastructure.  A simple way of thinking is, the MTC may be able to save money by delaying smart phone implementation until the 2nd generation system is functional.  Click here to read about the second generation of Clipper plans.

Akit's Opinions:
In my opinion, I wish the Clipper Card was available as a smartphone function to just tap the phone to a card reader to ride public transit, or even just allowing people to use a linked credit card to just tap and pay for their rides would be wonderful.  Also, with the ability to order passes or load more cash value from your phone means your virtual card on your phone will have instant available use of your pass or funds, without the terrifying five day waiting period or running to your Walgreens or train station to load-up.

But looking at all of the cons, this may be something the MTC may not want to pursue, especially if the Clipper Card program is to be in a coffin by 2019 and a new program will be functional by then.  The technology being used today is outdated but functions as expected.

If there has to be a compromise, here's my recommendation:
I feel this may be an opportunity for Clipper to work with Apple and Google to allow Clipper card users to get an app that utilizes a plastic Clipper card and an NFC capable phone to let people scan their card to read their ride history and review their balances on their card (currently, the FareBot 3rd party app for Android can do this).  This may also be an opportunity for people to order their passes, add cash value, etc. on their phone, and tag their card to their phone to update the card's data with the new information so people can instantly use the card with the new information.

What's your thoughts on this?  Leave a comment.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

New Change to BART to Muni Transfer Policy using Clipper Cards

Clipper Monster Reader FAIL

If you use your Clipper card to transfer from a San Francisco BART station to a Muni vehicle or metro, there's a change in policy regarding the transfer rule.

The old rule:
When exiting BART from any station between Embarcadero and Balboa Park, you have one hour to transfer to Muni.  When tagging the same card you exited with BART and use it on Muni, you get a 25 cent discount on your Muni ride.  When you are ready to take your next ride on Muni (after the Muni 90 minute transfer expires and its less than 24 hours from the time you exited BART), your next Muni fare transaction is 25 cents off.  This is the exact policy just like when BART stations issued paper discount transfers which gave the same benefit.

The new rule:
When exiting BART from any station between Embarcadero and Balboa Park, you have one hour to transfer to Muni.  When tagging the same card you exited with BART and use it on Muni, you get a 50 cent discount.  There is no discount for a second ride.

Note: This policy is not valid if you have a Muni monthly pass.  It must pay in Clipper e-cash funds.  As always, if you have a Muni monthly pass on your card, Clipper always seeks the best deal, instead of yanking $1.50 out of your pool of funds.

Also, this policy is not in use at the Daly City BART station.  Passengers still get a free ride on any Muni line that serves Daly City BART.

How did I notice the change?
When I go to baseball games at AT&T Park, I have to take BART and Muni metro to and from the park.  I noticed when I tagged my card on the Clipper card reader to get back after the game, I had to pay full fare.  When I got home, I reviewed my Clipper card records online and found out that there was that change in transfer policy.

Akit's Opinions:
It's a simple change that makes it more simplified for Clipper card users.  Instead of wondering if the return ride 25 cent discount works, you just get the full 50 cents off in the first Muni ride away from BART.  I like it.

Reference to policy: https://www.clippercard.com/ClipperWeb/muni/fares.do

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Caught & Confronted Foul Mouthed Town Car Driver Stealing Taxicab Fares (VIDEO)

Earlier today, I confronted a towncar driver who was trying to sell to tourists a $3 ride to downtown.  If you watched the video above, the confrontation went ugly and I hoped he realized that he's going to be out of a job very soon and face a $5,000 fine.  I intend to report this to the California Public Utilities Commission and SFMTA enforcement.


But before I get to the laws about this, I also found out this mean asshole's vehicle isn't even legal!  Here, take a look:

The TCP number listed as per the PUC means it's not legal, so we have a dirty vehicle with a driver who steals fares.

The Laws:
The law about towncars and limos is they cannot do on-demand or solicit for rides.  Only licensed taxicabs are allowed to do this.  Towncars and limos are limited to prearranged rides (e.g. appointments).  In San Francisco, this means only licensed San Francisco taxicabs can pick-up passengers without reservation and on-demand.

Limo and towncar drivers who solicits for rides are doing a lot of things wrong:
(1) They steal work from legitimate taxicab drivers.
(2) As it's not a taxi, the drivers may not be subject to the scrutiny the City and County of San Francisco enforces on cabs and their drivers, such as background checks, testing them on the city map, frequent vehicle inspections, inspecting taxi meters, and liability insurance.  A few years back, I had a towncar pull over and passengers yell at me: "do you know where Nob Hill is?"  I responded: "You should fire that driver."
(3) Limo and towncar drivers have been known to rip-off passengers by advertising a cheap ride, then jacking the fare or dropping passengers off in some not so nice areas.  I've never heard of a $3 and even a $5 fare from Fisherman's Wharf to downtown before.
(4) They take advantage of tourists who doesn't know the laws, BUT I DO.

Why did I record and confront that driver?  Here's why:
A week ago, I was waiting at that exact location for a F-Market trolley, but they were taking forever to show-up.  During that time, two limos pulled over in front of the stop, opened their door and solicited a "$5" fare to downtown.

The first vehicle driver, I asked him: "Are you aware of the MTA laws about soliciting?"  He knew he just got caught by a local resident who knows the laws.  He apologized, got back in his car, and apologized again at me.  Since he was playing nice, I told him I wouldn't report him.

The second vehicle driver, I said nothing.  Instead, I decided to take a photo of his vehicle and record about 15 seconds of material while he took about five passengers.  At that point, I decided to take a few minutes at home to report it to the SFMTA, and an inspector contacted me a day later for a copy of the photo and video.  I'm expecting the inspector's case to be a slam dunk and a fat $5,000 fine.  See video and photo:

Today's lesson!
Today's lesson, don't get cheated by illegal operators.  I have a new found respect for cab drivers who do follow the laws and have the right to take on-demand rides.   The cab drivers have to make a living, and I hope the PUC and the cops find that illegally operating towncar and that foul mouthed driver, and tow it away.

I KNOW MY RIGHTS.  FEAR ME you illegally operating towncars and limos.