It’s late. And dark. And maybe starting to sprinkle a little.

All you want to do is get home. Or get to the Giants game before Lincecum’s first pitch. Or…go anywhere.

But you can’t find a cab.

San Francisco is one of the most difficult places to hail a ride – as we already know. A Controller’s Report from 2006 even found that 33% of San Franciscans looking for a cab on a weekend night had to wait more than 30 minutes. Apparently, however, our city government is finally getting the message that we’re tired of waiting.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency – which handles cabs in The City – is proposing spending $400,000 on a pilot program that would enable people with smartphones to see where there are cabs in their immediate vicinity and then order one.

From Web 2.0 to Gov 2.0

It makes sense. More and more San Franciscans are using smartphones and the technology is already out there. One app that SF MTA is considering using for the program is Cabulous, which already works with 400 taxis in The City. MTA would expand Cabulous (or a similar app after reviewing proposals from other companies) to all of San Francisco’s 1,500 taxis. MTA would also pay the $400,000 for the first year, leaving the companies to take over payment after that.

Another app that is being used by Luxor Cab is Taxi Magic, which allows users to type in the address where they would like to be picked up, along with a time, and magically a cab appears! Luxor saw the need for an app that makes hailing a cab as easy as tapping a few smartphone buttons and put $100,000 into developing it. According to an SF Examiner report this AM – they’re none too thrilled that SF MTA is offering to foot the bill for the first year for the other cab companies.

What do you think? Should SF MTA invest in a smartphone program that allows users to see where cabs are and then order one? Should the companies themselves have to pay for the pilot program, or is SF MTA doing the right thing by putting up the money for the first year?