07/02/2013 10:20 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Collaborative Economy Eases Pains of SF Subway Strike


The Bart Area Rapid Transit system is closed due to a workers' strike, but crowdsources an image from local photographer Thomas Hawk.

When public transportation fails, the crowd comes to the rescue.

San Francisco, Oakland and Silicon Valley are choking from traffic this week, not to mention in a heat wave before the 4th of July independence holiday. Employees from the Bay Area Rapid Transit, a underground and elevated commuter rail system, are striking against unfair wages. Their timing couldn't have been better planned as the America's Cup and multiple sporting games ensure many eyes are on San Francisco. The strike has gotten the attention of over 400,000 commuters who rely on BART for regular commutes to work, all whom are displaced, and there's already word spreading that the local bus system may also strike as well.

With options limited from public transportation systems, the crowd starts to turn to each other to get what they need. Startups from the Collaborative Economy movement start to enable people to get shared and instant transportation from each other, and even shared places to work using social networking and mobile technologies. In particular, ride sharing service SideCar published a blog post, offering to ease the woes of BART through ride shares, and LiquidSpace (office space on demand for local businesses) offers a 50 percent off option so workers and teams can work where they want, instead of just trying to manage a nasty commute. Early results show that these types of startups have had up to 40 percent increase in usage this week.

In the future, we must prepare for disasters, especially in the earthquake-prone SF area, and this taste of stalled infrastructure bodes what could come during a serious scenario. In fact, SF's Mayor Ed Lee has recently appointed a sharing group to prepare for disasters called the Sharing Economy Emergency Preparedness Partnership to prepare for such critical moments when government resources will be hard to obtain.

In each of these cases, from transit strikes to the potential of a serious regional disaster, we're seeing the crowd turn to each other to share and receive goods and services, they're collaborating as an economy.