Editor’s note: We caught up with SF Trusted Tester John N., a local small business owner, while he was grabbing some lunch at Zazie (one of his favorite spots in the city!). He clued us in on his love for getting around in our I-PACE vehicles, what he hopes we add to the service next, and his vision for how autonomously driven vehicles can make transportation more equitable across San Francisco.
Hi there, John. It’d be great to start out learning a little more about you and your background.
What’s there to know! I live in the Inner Richmond district and have my own business here in San Francisco - an insurance brokerage. I’ve lived here for 20 years and have definitely seen the evolution of the city.
Oh nice! How do you usually get around the city, and how does Waymo One fit into that?
I have many ways of getting around. I have my own car, a bicycle, and an electric scooter, so I get around in a lot of different ways, but if I could choose, I’d always pick a Waymo ride.
It’s super convenient. You don’t have to worry about weather or parking, which is the number one reason why I don’t take my car very far; it’s more for out of town trips. For example, if I have to see a customer in town, it sure saves me a lot of trouble to not deal with the hassle of parking. And, I don’t mind riding in the Jaguar!
It’s definitely a cool car. Now you’ve been a Trusted Tester since we first launched in August 2021. What first intrigued you to sign up?
I think I was curious when I saw the cars around, and I wanted to find out about it and thought “wow if I could ride in those, it would be really fun.” I do find it’s really handy to go out on the weekends to go meet friends at a restaurant or bar and get a safe ride home.
What are some of your favorite spots to ride to?
My main stop is the Castro! I like to eat around the area and meet up with friends at my regular haunts Toad Hall, Beaux, and Hi Tops Sports Bar.
How has the experience been so far? Any feedback?
Sometimes the route to get to my home in the Richmond is slightly indirect, but it gets me there safely, even if a little slower. Other than that, I am also looking forward to the territory opening up and being able to take it Downtown to the Embarcadero or the China Basin area.
Do you have any tips for future riders?
It’s a quiet ride, so you have to be comfortable being in your own space. With an autonomous specialist up front, it’s hard not to talk with them, so that’s the part that I initially had to grapple with because if there is another human in the vehicle, I really want to talk to them! That’s one of the reasons I can’t wait to be able to take the person I’m dating as a guest. Once we get to do that, I think it will be really exciting.
Well, it’s been great chatting with you John. Before we let you go, anything else you’d like to touch on as it relates to Waymo or autonomous driving technology in general?
I think the absolute key thing is that autonomous ride-hailing can serve so many people that need mobility, regardless of where they’re located. Back in the day before ride-hailing apps, some drivers used to avoid areas like the Outer Richmond and Outer Sunset because they were far away and drivers were incentivized to have high turnover. So I think that ride-hailing and autonomous driving will be able to serve more remote neighborhoods, which is important.