Jitney rules approved as regulators derail Chariot

Officials with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved a new permit program for to regulate the reemergence of jitneys in The City.

Some of regulations private transit companies will need to follow under the permit program, include paying a permit fee to help pay for the administration of the program, requiring companies to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles for customers and sharing data with the SFMTA.

Currently, the only existing private transit company operating in The City is the Ford-owned Chariot, which operates its 14-passenger buses, picking up passengers in neighborhoods such as the Marina, the Mission and Haight-Ashbury and dropping them off near downtown.

On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission halted the private transit service for failing to meet safety inspections with the California Highway Patrol, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

Viktoriya Wise, chief of staff for the SFMTA’s Sustainable Streets Division, said Chariot serves approximately 3,000 to 4,000 customers a day. The public can access Chariot using a cellphone app.

A SFMTA staff report said the transit agency has received a number of complaints from the public and Muni drivers who said that Chariot vehicles are making unauthorized stops at transit stops, crosswalks and red zones.

One of the ways to address the unauthorized stops by private transit vehicles is to collect data from the companies under the new regulations, the report said.

One issue that was not resolved at the meeting was if the transit agency would allow Chariot to mimic Muni routes.

In a draft memorandum, if at least 75 percent of the private transit vehicle route uses the same street or parallel street within 0.2 miles of an existing Muni route, the SFMTA would consider the jitney route a duplication.

Also, a duplication of a Muni route would have included private transit vehicles stopping within 0.2 miles of an existing Muni stop served by a rapid or express service within the downtown and outside of the downtown area.

SFMTA staff will come back to the board with a proposal to on whether or not to allow private transit vehicles to duplicate Muni routes.