Essential workers will have a free ride home.

The city’s Department of the Environment has opened applications for free taxi service for hospital, grocery, childcare and other essential workers who need a ride home from work between 9 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. The full list of workers who qualify is here. 

The program will cover the cost of up to 10 rides per month, per person, and up to $70 per ride. It is designed for people who commute late and are affected by the city’s reduced transit options. Trips to work will not be covered by the program.

Once an application is approved, participants can take an official taxi — the list is here — for trips returning from work between 9 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. Rides with Lyft and Uber are not eligible. 

The application form is here. Language assistance in Spanish and Chinese can be reached by calling 311 by (within SF) or 415-701-2311 (TTY 415-701-2323)

At present, the program will accept only 70 applications, but its organizers are hoping to expand, according to Joseph Sweiss, policy and communications staff for the San Francisco Department of the Environment.

Sweiss said that even if residents feel they fall outside of the criteria — for instance, they need rides home earlier in the day — they should apply, because his office hopes to expand the hours.  

If approved, you will be notified via email by the Department of the Environment from this email: Once accepted, you may submit weekly reimbursement requests for your taxi rides home. 

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Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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  1. Here is a radical idea. Maybe the city should hire taxi drivers and pay them a wage since that is the safest way to travel now. Instead of buying more large long vehicles filled with empty seats and juggling routes to serve everyone, just get them in the cabs that already are license, know the city, and have passed some tests and been vetted. You don’t need to train them and bus drivers may prefer driving smaller vehicles and shuttles.