Recently, I met a friend (Cris) for drinks on Polk Street and got the Geary 38 11.07pm bus home. I remember it specifically because I still have sea-sickness from the journey and keep swaying erratically every few hours. Everyone knows the 38 bus arrives every 14 seconds and is the most efficient public transport on the planet, London & Manhattan included & combined. But this was the 1st time I’d taken the bus at night and it was scarier than the time I went head first down the Log Flue at the county fair at 80mph (I’m never taking a dare again, I learned my lesson fast!).
As Cris said, the late-night 38 drivers tend to speed like they have a bomb strapped to the bus! And she’s right – the female driver raced like she was an offspring from Formula 1 meets NASCAR and the bus was obviously powered by NASA. I thought she was auditioning for the next Speed movie. At one point, I’m categorically certain she was going around bends on 2 wheels.
I got off the bus and had to check my legs were still intact. This was before I stopped my hands from shaking and calmed down from hysterical nervous laughter. For a typical 20 minute journey, we record-broke the trip in under 4 minutes. Like a "Bat out of Hell" should be the 11.07pm’s theme tune.
That was the single, funniest journey I’ve ever had aside from GoCar. My sister was visiting from the UK and had read about GoCar so wanted to try it out. I’m sure you’ve seen these cars. They look like crème eggs that, with extreme effort of gunning the pedal, reaches around 23mph. We dragged my dog, Muppet along for the ride, and I ‘sped’ away down Union Square to Embarcadero. I realized we were not paying for a speed machine when we saw a woman with her toddler, in a stroller, glide past us. Within 10 minutes, I was sweating heavier than the time I had to recite all 12 times table in math class, aged 9 and got smacked legs for bailing on the 8's times table. My sister stopped for a coffee and an MTV camera crew parked in front of us. At this point, we then realized the car doesn’t reverse unless we push it ‘Flintstones style’ with our feet. Which we did, and it worked, and the MTV guys laughed and we blew them kisses like we just didn’t care, but we did because we looked stupid driving around in a canary-yellow contraption with a spaniel wearing a helmet. The rest of our journey was mildly insane. Dogs ran past us, birds sped by us, we were the only car going under 60mph on the 13th Avenue Golden Gate cross road (we actually clocked 15mph at that point and whooped) and the uphill to Twin Peaks was like watching a 93yr old on rollerblades.
Another way to get around the city is renting a bike. I’ve only ever done this once but if you really want to know which streets are the dubious incline ones, just hop on a bike. It’s the stuff that turns your butt into a place to crack walnuts. Prior to renting a bike, I’ve pretty much ignored cyclists for the past few years. Now, seeing one go up Polk Street between Francisco & Filbert street, I actually give a standing ovation to. It’s a big hill. Not like Pac Heights style but still, it’s certainly not a walk in the park! Would you rather have buns of steel from an exhausting bike or sway along in the breeze at 0.5 miles an hour in a yellow blob?
So forget about the typical cab transportation and try something different. Have a journey on the 38 bus, take a GoCar around this incredible city, try cycle until you’re a rear nut-cracking machine and really enjoy San Fran in a different light. Remember to not eat though at least 2 hours before you get on the Geary 38 Bus. It's the most valuable advice you'll ever receive from me.