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Twice a year my wife and I go to San Francisco for business and pleasure. We’ve been doing this for years and so we know a) if we stay in a hotel we have to pay a ton to park a rental car; b) finding a parking space is hell in the city and c) Airbnb’s generally don’t have off street parking for our rental car. One of our friends recommended a service called ‘Homobiles’, which is like Uber for Drag Queens. The cars come via text. Often vehicles come held together with duct tape, but we can be ourselves and the fares are cheap, by donation only.

   The sad thing for us about Homobiles is that they don’t have too many drivers and they get booked up very fast. Thus, we often have turned to Uber in the past few years. In San Francisco, Uber has an app that looks like a map, a map covered with 10 black dots within half a mile of wherever we stay. Those black dots on the map are available vehicles ready to pick you up. They appear within three minutes of texting in a fancy schmancy black vehicle, think Caddie (or similar). You don’t need to fumble for cash to pay or tip because it’s a set fee charged to your credit card that you’ve provided when setting up your account. Yes, it’s much more expensive than Homobiles, Lyft or a taxi but the convenience is worth it when there are no other rides available.

    I worked in bars in Salt Lake City for years in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. I learned to rely on a certain cab company in Salt Lake to haul away the forlorn, intoxicated, the party girls and boys. That company has become so unreliable in the past few years that I turned to a friend who worked for Uber and lives across the street from me. We went to Portland for Memorial Day weekend and needed a ride to the airport. Here’s our texts:  Me: “Need a ride to the airport at 2.”  Him: “Sorry, I have a day job now. Can’t help. But there will be plenty of drivers around to take you. Getting picked up from the airport could be a challenge. Uber and Lyft have stopped doing airport pickups in SLC. Lyft has stopped drop offs as well. A few commercially licensed Uber drivers are doing pickups but they can’t keep up with the demand. The taxis are no longer required to use meters so many are gouging passengers.”

   Have you noticed a difference in ride service options? Gov. Herbert signed a bill March 31, 2015 that put in massive statewide regulations for ride hailing companies. The big one is that the State requires drivers to be covered with at least $1 million in liability insurance. Uber and Lyft didn’t fight that requirement but they have been fighting the Salt Lake Mayor’s office for the even stricter rules imposed prior to that bill getting signed.