The 74X Culture Bus: A one way ticket to fail

Touristic creations like the Barcelona Bus Turistic are dreamy. They’re a public bus line aimed at serving the needs of the tourist so that they don’t crowd the other public lines that people commute on, the tourists pay properly for transportation that they don’t pay taxes to support, and most importantly, they stop tourists from driving all over the city. It’s a genius system and I was constantly pounding my fist on my desk about the fact we don’t have this in San Francisco.

Well, it turns out that I bruised up my fist over nothing because apparently, we do have a touristic bus, the SF Culture Bus [update: now dead] or otherwise known at the 74X. You can read all about it on their FAQ and while it may read a great deal like Chuck Norris Facts, you can get the general idea.

Reading through all of that, I quickly realized that this bus is screwed. First off, the route that it covers is quite well served by the 7 or the N Judah. These lines are a mere $4 (oh yeah, celebrate the 33% fare raise today. yay…) round trip as opposed to the $7 for the 74X. The bus runs every 60 minutes which is a joke. Also, it doesn’t take credit cards, Translink [nix: Clipper Card] or even give change, so you better have a five and two ones to pay for it on board.

Also, this route is not a popular route. Museums are fine and I like them, but the typical tourist doesn’t give a rat’s ass about these things. They want that “curvy street”, “bridge”, “pointed building”, and the “Italian place”. There is no touristic bus to these areas, but there are a great deal of taxis and other private operators who work to service these areas like all the taxis at Coit Tower waiting to prey of taking people to Fisherman’s Wharf which is about a 10 minute walk–downhill. Can’t step on their toes, can we now? I mean, just even stretching the 28 to go to Fisherman’s Wharf instead of having it fart out at Fort Mason would be an improvement, but no, we get the 74X and that’s it.

It reeks of people going to City Hall, showing how touristic routes would be a great idea, Mayor Prettyboy going along with it, but making sure not to touch the private operators, establishing this route in this way thus dooming it to failure as shown by the buses always being empty despite plenty of tourists being in town right now. This way, after they shut it down, they can point to it and say, “See, we had a touristic bus and it failed, so why you wanna go down that road again? Now, on to handing out more taxi medallions…”