Transportation in big demand in SF on New Year's Eve


December 31, 2012 7:00:37 PM PST
As the New Year's Eve reveling begins, San Francisco police are bracing for a huge crowd along the Embarcadero. City officials expect 250,000 people to gather by midnight for the annual fireworks show. As of 5 p.m., Monday there were no plans to close off any streets where people will be gathering, although police were prepared with traffic barriers just in case.

"The event commanders will evaluate that situation as the night unfolds and if it becomes necessary, then we will make some street closures," Sgt. Michael Andraychak told ABC7 News. "But we want to accommodate traffic as much as possible." Extra officers will be on patrol in San Francisco and city officials want to encourage people coming down to watch the fireworks to consider taking public transportation because hundreds of thousands of people will descend on the city for the big fireworks display.

Consequently, the demand for cabs will be huge and some trips will be more expensive than usual. Prices will run the gamut, everything from free cab rides and public transportation rides, to cab and limo rides that will cost two to three times more than they would on any other night of the year.

This is Job Tesfamariam's 23rd year driving a cab on New Year's Eve and he has tales to tell. "I've been taking them home, some of them might be throwing up in the cab," he recalled. That's a $100 charge in addition to the cab fare. He sees it year after year but says it's all part of the job of getting people home safely on a night when most aren't able to drive.

That's why for the fifth time, Luxor Cab Company is teaming up with Berg Injury Lawyers to offer free rides from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. All customers have to do is mention Berg Injury Lawyers. "They pay 100 percent of it up to $35. These are for rides within San Francisco only. The idea is to pick up a customer at a bar or at restaurant and then take them home, not to another bar," explained Charles Rathbone with Luxor Cab.

For those brave enough to wait for a cab on New Year's Eve, Uber, the app-driven limo service, offers the following information. Peak travel times Monday night are from 8:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Uber is warning its customers via email and webchat that it's implementing "surge pricing" on New Year's Eve meaning prices will at least double during peak travel times. During extreme spikes in demand, a ride could cost passengers a minimum of $100 even before time and mileage charges are added.

"It's fine. It's much better than a cab and I'd rather pay the extra money and get there comfortably and on time," San Francisco resident Renee Baca said.

"We just heard bad things like for New Year's Eve, it was going to be really hectic to get any kind of cab. So, we figured it would just be easier to just get a cheap motel room," David McLaughlin of San Francisco said.

Muni is free starting at 8 p.m. and Caltrain is free beginning at 11 p.m. BART isn't free, but has extended hours until 3 a.m.