One of the most common arguments for subsidizing public transit is that the private sector won't (or can't) provide the service. Yet, black market taxis--"gypsy" cabs--are common in large and small cities. Now, a private entrepreneur in San Francisco is showing it can step into meet market demand for mass transit services in a very conventional market: commuter services.
The founder and chief executive of Bauer's Limousine Service Inc.
<http://bauersit.com>, which provides the fleets of corporate buses that shuttle
Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. employees to work, launched a new line of luxury
commuter buses in August.
Dubbed Wi-Drive, four frills-studded buses were rolled out at a total cost of
more than $2 million to woo technology workers to commute in Wi-Fi-enabled buses
from San Francisco to points both north and south.
So far, the bet appears to be paying off. Despite the recession, Bauer said the
52-seat buses are running at 60% to 70% capacity and attracting riders from
companies like Cisco Systems Inc.
It's perhaps not surprising that the owner, Gary Bauer, got his start with his own version of a gypsy cab. He drove friends around as part of a landscaping business he started. Then, he expanded into a limousine services, a relatively less regulated part of the transportation sector. Now, his commuting service provides transportation to 6,000 people and ridership has increased 30 percent over the past five years.