Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Taxi Driver vs the DPT, Round 1

Photo by John Han.
By John Han.

Hey drivers, if you haven't already experienced it yourself, then may I kindly inform you that the Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT) has been on a mission, issuing a flurry of parking tickets to lots of cab drivers as of late. 

According to Yellow Cab, most of these are being issued along the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building, and at Candlestick Park.  I just recently talked with one of the Yellow Cab managers and was told that DPT has mailed in at least 30 citations to the company (approximately) from these areas. 

That’s right, mailed in.

Cabbies on Tilt.

Photo by John Han.
By Gabriel Golden.

"Tilt" is a term that comes from the game of poker.

Let's say you're in a poker game, playing confidently and well, making money. You get a great hand, you think you have the proverbial "nuts" and are unbeatable so you push in a big chunk of your chip pile. Another player is calling you, then raises you at the end, you go all-in and he suddenly and unexpectedly wins the hand, taking your huge pile of chips. You've had a "bad beat." Frustrated, you feel like you've been punched in the face, and as the game goes on you are thinking about how much you have to gain back, and you're making bad, reckless choices that cause you to continue losing even more money.

A poker player in this state of mind is said to be "playing on tilt," and it occured to me that a similar thing is frequently experienced by cabbies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Luxor Cabs, Inc.'s Suggested Cab Stand Locations.

Here's a list of cab stand ideas that Luxor Cab President John Lazar handed to me.

Nissan Leafs are Snazzy & Cool For Sure... But How Can They Perform Well As Taxicabs? Let's Find Out.

All new 2011 Nissan Leaf at SF International Auto Show Moscone Center.  Photo by John Han
By John Han, (photos by John Han).

On Sunday, November 21st, I headed down to the Moscone Center for a quick look at the much hyped about Nissan Leaf all electric vehicle.  It will continue to be on display until Sunday, November 28th, at the San Francisco International Auto Show 2010. 

The Leaf is Nissan’s new 100 percent electric vehicle that produces zero green house gas emissions.  No tailpipe, no exhaust… a good start for families around the world to move away from big oil and fossil fuels.

What’s even cooler is San Francisco has got some federal grant money to purchase for free, 25 of the Leafs and use them as taxis (read full text of grant application).  So, it may be safe to say that the Leafs are coming to town, and they may be coming down the chimney like Santa Claus, servicing our public as early as next year.

Friday, November 19, 2010

From The SFMTA, Time to Renew A-Cards

 Beginning Tuesday, November 30, 2010, the SFMTA Taxi Services will begin accepting A-Card renewals.  To avoid penalty fees and to avoid having your A-Card closed out for Non-Payment, we encourage all taxi drivers to renew their A-Cards in a timely manner. 

WHERE to Pay?
Payments can be made at the SFMTA Taxi Services 1 South Van Ness Ave, 2nd Floor – Drivers will be given instruction upon arrival.

WHEN to Pay?
Drivers must renew their a-cards by January 31 to avoid penalty fees. 

·       Payments made beginning February 1 - 28:  10% penalty fee
·       Payments made beginning March 1 - 30:  15% penalty fee
·       Payments made beginning April 1 – April 30:  Drivers must complete an application for a Public Passenger Vehicle Driver Permit (A-Card), pay applicable filing fee, license fee and 25% penalty fee
·       Failure to submit payment by May 1, 2011 the permit shall expire by operation of law.  Drivers must obtain a new permit pursuant to MPC Section 1089 and pay all applicable fees.

Hours for A-Card Renewal:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (except December 2 and unless otherwise stated)
9:00-11:30am and 2:00-4:00pm

Taxi drivers should contact SFMTA Taxi Services (415) 701-4400 to find out the total amount due.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Correction to Nissan Leaf Story

53rd International Auto Show/Nissan Leaf
In the essay below entitled, "The All Electric Nissan Leaf To Debut In Moscone Center", it states,

"The City's original idea was to make the Nissan Leafs "single operator" and drivers therefore should charge the taxis at home, cover all operating costs, plus a lease fee, and cover the more than $2000.00 installation costs for a home charging station.  This would most likely be unfeasible.

The City then offered to keep the Leafs as "single operator" but eliminate any lease fee and the $2000.00 installation cost.  But under this specific version of the "single operator", even without a lease fee or installation costs, the operating costs have roughly been estimated to be nearly $3000.00/month.  This also may be cumbersome. "

Correction - It must be made clear that these claims reflect preliminary ideas that were tossed around in unofficial and informal brainstorming sessions.  They are not official statements nor do they reflect any official offers made to drivers by the SFMTA.  The City has yet to release any official statement or plan detailing the Nissan Leaf program and has made no offers as of yet.  Plans are expected to be released in the future. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The All Electric Nissan Leaf to Debut In Moscone Center.

53rd International Auto Show/Nissan Leaf
The new 100% electric Nissan Leaf vehicle will highlight the 53rd Annual San Francisco International Auto Show, November 20-28 2010, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.  

The auto show each year features the latest models of cars, trucks, SUVs and vans from carmakers around the world.

According to Nissan's website www.drivenissanleaf.com, the car has a range of up to 100 miles of distance on a single, fully charged battery.

And Nissan is targeting the average American commuter as its primary market, of whom 95% are said to drive less than 100 miles a day.  Prospective consumers will be able to reserve a space to test drive the Nissan Leaf at next week's auto show.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) last month approved $33 million in federal grant money to fund green projects throughout the Bay Area.  Included in that project is San Francisco's pilot plan to purchase some 25 of the Nissan Leafs, intended to be used as "neighborhood taxis" in designated areas in the City.

As mentioned earlier, the vehicle will travel up to 100 miles of distance on a fully charged battery.

However, there's a twist in the plot.

Friday, November 12, 2010

SF Taxi Driver Wages 10-Year Battle to Reduce Fleet Emissions, And Wins

Paul Gillespie, San Francisco Taxicab Commission president
Paul Gillespie, former president of Former SF Taxi Commission
It’s a crisp spring morning in San Francisco, and Mayor Gavin Newsom is standing in front of a row of taxi cabs lined up at City Hall. He points to the TV camera and says, “To Mayor Bloomberg, I say we beat you on this.” He gestures to the taxis, each either a fuel-efficient hybrid or natural gas vehicle. “The Big Apple is not the green apple yet."
Indeed, San Francisco succeeded in greening its taxi fleet—which is now 55 percent hybrid or powered by clean-burning natural gas—where New York City failed even to approach San Francisco’s level.
Before you imagine this game of environmental one-upmanship is strictly between big city mayors, consider this: the man who arguably deserves the most credit for reducing the San Francisco taxi fleet’s carbon footprint—by a whopping 35,000 tons per year—is a 53-year-old rank-and-file taxi driver named Paul Gillespie. Gillespie’s efforts serve as an object lesson in how real environmental change gets done—not by politicians politicking but by grassroots hard work, consensus building, and levelheaded thinking.
The story begins 13 years ago, when former Mayor Willie Brown established a taxi task force to look at all issues facing San Francisco’s cabbies. The task force recommended the creation of an official Taxi Commission, with one of the seven seats allocated to a working driver. Gillespie raised his hand and was chosen. “I was just a regular guy who got himself appointed to this position where I had a chance to get things done,” Gillespie recalled.  Read entire article>>

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cabulous, Uber, and San Francisco's Poor Taxi Industry Part 2, by John Han

Photo by John Han.
Comments to the previous post entitled, "Cabulous, Uber, and San Francisco's Poor Taxi Industry" has raised some very interesting and valid responses.  And I felt compelled to go ahead with Part 2 of that blog.  So here goes...

With respect to all my fellow cab drivers, I have no problem with the concept of what Uber is doing... to offer a medium through which people can order limousine services without having to call a specific company.  That is a type of centralized dispatching system in itself, only it’s for the limousine industry not the cab industry.  Cabulous is a similar type of centralized dispatching system, except it’s for the cab industry.  They are both fine concepts and I applaud the entrepreneurs who developed them.  

Whether Uber is implementing and administering its business model in compliance with state laws that regulate limousine services, I have little to say about that, as I am not an attorney or a regulator and have little knowledge about the inner workings of the company.  I would prefer to leave that up to the regulators, the attorneys, and the company’s CEO.

So why is Uber so threatening to San Francisco’s taxi industry?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cabulous, Uber, and San Francisco's Poor Taxi Industry, by John Han.

Photo by John Han
SF taxi driver Erik Hatten sent in this link to an article published on TechCrunch entitled, "Uber, Not UberCab, Launches Android App." by Evelyn Rusli.

Apparently Uber, formerly called UberCab, is ramping it up, cooperating with regulators, and doing fine.  Well good for them.

But if I may indulge in the opportunity, both Uber and Cabulous are indications to those of us in the cab business that San Francisco's taxi industry needs to start evolving.

One of the ways it can do this is through the controversial 'centralized dispatching system'.  It is a long held idea that passengers phoning in for service deserve the option of calling their favorite cab company, or, if not, may choose to call a central dispatch number that would dispatch the closest available cab, regardless of what company it is, since all meter rates are the same.  Many drivers want this, local politicians have said they wanted it, policy studies have recommended it, and the public seems to want it enough that that some of the more entrepreneurial ones are trying to invent their own versions of one, i.e., Cabulous, Uber.

The ones who seem most adamantly opposed to the idea are the also the ones who control almost all of the radio dispatch services in the City... the cab companies.