Sunday, December 11, 2011

DeSoto's Competition With Green Cab, And An Analysis On Whether Back Seat Tip Prompters Improve Drivers' Incomes. By John Han.

File photos by John Han.
Earlier this year a contest began between the presidents of DeSoto Cab and Green Cab, to see if tips prompted by rear seat passenger information monitors, (PIMs), really increases a driver's tip percentages, thus making drivers more money.  

Part of the reasoning behind PIMs was that if they were to increase drivers'  tip percentages, then 5% credit card charges imposed upon drivers would become a non-issue, since higher income from PIMs would 'more than make up for the credit card costs'.

The idea caught on.

Hansu Kim, DeSoto Cab's president, is and has been one of the industry's most ardent proponent of getting PIMs installed in San Francisco, and for allowing cab drivers to legally incur a 5% credit card cost.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Recap Of MTA Board Of Directors Meeting Held Tuesday, December 6th, 2011. By John Han.

MTA Board of Directors meeting,Tuesday, December 6,
2011.  Image from SFGovTV.
The MTA Board of Directors, (Municipal Transportation Agency), revisited 5% credit card fees, rear seat passenger information monitors (PIMs), and electronic waybills at its Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 regular meeting.

This was item #16 on the agenda and was for discussion only. In it, Nelson Nygaard presented its report on the three topics. 

The Board also voted 4-2 in favor of item #17, which includes expanding the Medallion Sales Pilot Program, by dropping the sellers' age requirement from 70 years old to 65. Now, medallion holders who are at least 65 years old instead of 70, and have a full-time driving requirement, or who have acquired a disability and are unable to drive, can now be eligible to sell their medallions under the pilot program.

According to MTA Deputy Director of Taxi Services Christiane Hayashi, there are currently about 135 medallion holders between the ages of 65 and 70 in San Francisco. But that number includes both Pre K and Prop K holders combined. And since Item #17, which passed, temporarily eliminates Pre K holders from being qualified as sellers, it's uncertain how many new sellers that would mean.  But it would be less than 135.

Quick Thought On Yesterday's MTA Board Of Directors Meeting. Cab Companies Want 500 More Cabs. By John Han.

File Photo by John Han
Cab company reps were at it again, taking the opportunity at Tuesday's MTA Board of Directors meeting, to urge the directors to issue 500 more taxicabs. This, after the MTA has already authorized 87 new medallions in August.

Under item #17 of the agenda, which included lowering medallion seller's ages from 70 to 65 under the Pilot Program, Yellow Cab manager Richie Wiener, added that the City should put out another 100 medallions right away.  Then, Marty Smith, manager of Luxor Cab, acknowledged Wiener's comment, but took the bolder step to urge the City that it should be 500.

I would like to take this moment to try to bring to the attention of readers, and hopefully the regulators, a response to this plea.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nelson Nygaard Releases Study On 5% Credit Card Fees, Rear Seat Payment Terminals, And Electronic Waybills. Presentation Scheduled For MTA Board Meeting Tuesday, December 6, 2011. By John Han.

Rear Seat Passenger Information Monitor (PIM).  
File photo by John Han
The consulting firmed hired by San Francisco to study 5% credit card fees, rear seat passenger information monitors (PIMs), and electronic waybills, has completed its study and has now published its report.

The study, conducted by Nelson Nygaard, is scheduled to be presented with recommendations to the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) at it's regular Board meeting, Tuesday, December 6, 2011. (Under agenda item #16)

The firm, in its report, makes nine recommendations, including setting a minimum amount to passengers paying with credit cards, without specifying what a minimum should be.

Monday, November 14, 2011

North Beach Business Owners Want More Taxi Stands. By John Han.

San Francisco taxicab.  File photo by John Han.
According to the SF Examiner, North Beach business owners want more taxi stands in their neighborhood, in hopes that it would help boost their business clientele.

Click Here to read the SF Examiner's article.

How about that?  Business owners wishing to help taxi drivers do their jobs easier, with the notion that doing so could help them do their jobs easier as well.

What a concept!  Thanks North Beach business owners!  You get a coolness award!  Thanks for thinking about us, so that we can think about you too.

I haven't driven nights in a long time.  But when I did, I remember the spot facing the Broadway tunnel (westbound) just near the corner of Broadway and Columbus, right in front of the Roaring 20's.  That was always a good spot to stop and wait for a fare on Saturday nights.  It was hardly ever a long wait.  I got a Walnut Creek out of that spot once, and some other good rides along with regular in town fares.

It seems that that would be one good place.  Hey MTA, how 'bout that?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Final Town Hall Meeting Schedule. From SFMTA.



FINAL Taxi Town Hall Meeting Dates and Topics 2011
Date and Time
November 14:
TAC meeting 1:00-4:00 pm
Town Hall Meeting: 6:00-8:00 pm
Consideration of proposals for the future of taxi medallion sales
Nov. 15:
2:00-5:00 pm & 5:00-8:00 pm
Consideration of proposals for the future of taxi medallion sales
Nov. 22:
2:00-5:00 pm & 5:00-8:00 pm
  1. The new airport smartcard system
  2. Should there be an airport flat rate?
  3. Should Daly City taxicabs be allowed to service the southern border of the City?
November 28:
TAC meeting 1:00-4:00 pm
Town Hall Meeting: 5:00-8:00 pm
Consideration of proposals for the future of taxi medallion sales
Dec. 12:
6:00-8:00 pm
  1. Results of Illegal Vehicle Enforcement.
  2. State law agenda for upcoming legislative session.
Dec. 13:
6:00-8:00 pm
What is the appropriate role of a dispatch service as compared to a color scheme?   Should there be any change to the permitting structure for these two types of businesses?
Dec. 20:
2:00-5:00 pm & 5:00-8:00 pm
Consideration of proposals for the future of taxi medallion sales

Of the 184 individual pre-K medallion holders who hold the remaining 256 pre-K medallions:
  1. 68 people, representing 102 medallions, were eligible to participate in the last round of sales and elected not to when they had an opportunity in April-May 2010, or they participated in the Pilot Program but declined to sell their medallion when an offer was made.  These people will be age 71 or older on December 31, 2011.  Of these:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Taxi Driver Who Struck Bicyclist Did Not Run Red Light. Windshield Mounted Camera Gives Proof. By John Han..

Janus V2 windshield mounted video/audio recorder by 3rd Eye Cam.
File photo by John Han.
It has been confirmed that the taxi driver who reportedly ran a red light and struck a bicyclist, may be exonerated, and deemed innocent of the allegation.  

For those who haven't read, on Sunday, October 30th, at about 2am, a driver of a Town Taxi struck a 22-year old bicyclist, at the intersection of Cesar Chavez and Guerrero streets.  The accident reportedly left the bicyclist with head injuries that are considered to be life threatening. 

According to the SF Examiner, a police spokesman said that the taxi driver ran a red light heading eastbound on Cesar Chavez St., while the bicyclist was traveling southbound on Guerrero.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tragic Collision Between Taxi And Bicycle. Bicyclist With Life Threatening Head Injuries. By John Han.

A heartrending collision occurred between a taxicab driver and a bicyclist, leaving the bicyclist in critical condition, with head injuries considered to be life threatening.

According to SF Gate, the bicyclist was crossing Cesar Chavez and Guerrero streets just before 2am Sunday.  A "Yellow Town Taxi", (most likely meaning Town Taxi), heading east on Cesar Chavez, ran a red light and struck the bicyclist, leaving the bicyclist lying in the intersection head down, bleeding profusely from the mouth, and in critical condition .  CLICK HERE to read the Chronicle's coverage.

An article published in the SF Examiner says the driver stopped at the scene and cooperated with the police.  According to that article, the driver was cited but not arrested.  The vehicle was towed and is being held for investigation.  To read it in the SF Examiner  CLICK HERE.

If that weren't staggering enough, ABC Local is reporting that on Thursday, a taxi ran a stop sign at the intersection of Pacific and Jones.  The taxi is being blamed for clipping another car, and causing that car to crash into a store, resulting in over $20,000 worth of damages for the store's owner.

No one was reported to be injured in that crash.  But the store's owner told ABC Local that the damages are devastating, and that it could be anywhere from a month to six months before the business may open again.

A nearby surveillance video caught the taxi running the stop sign.  The ABC Local story may be viewed HERE.

Proposed Schedule For Upcoming Taxi Town Hall Meetings.

The following is a proposed schedule put out by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) for seven taxi town hall meetings.  

Date and Time:


November 14, 2011:
TAC Meeting 1 - 4pm.
Town Hall Meeting 6 - 8pm.
Consideration of proposals for the future of taxi medallion sales.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Do Window Mounted Cameras Deter Crime? Another Taxi Driver Has Been Robbed... Violently.

File photo by John Han
The SF Appeal is reporting that a taxi driver was struck in the head with an unknown object and then robbed Thursday night. 

The violence occurred at the intersection of 25th St. and De Haro.  The suspect is reported to have fled and has not been found as of this morning. 

CLICK HERE to read the article.    

The violence comes after a string of eight robberies were committed against cab drivers between July and September of this year.  Those robberies were believed to have been committed by an individual serial robber.

That suspect was eventually caught, largely due to still photos taken by a window mounted camera.  However, the images did not prevent the robberies from being committed in the first place.

Window mounted video cameras have their value in the taxi business.  They record accidents and can help insurance companies, cab companies, and cab drivers that have been involved in an accident, to prove whether the incident was at fault or not.  

But no data has been released publicly as to how well the cameras perform in deterring crimes from happening.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

SFMTA Officially Says Taxis Can Pick Up And Drop Off In Bike Lanes! By John Han.

File photo by John Han.
It's been more than a year in the making.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will be issuing bumper stickers to all of the City's taxicabs, indicating that taxis may legally pick up and drop off public riders in bike lanes, and should not be ticketed.

The agency put out a memo dated October 18, 2011 instructing all of San Francisco's taxi companies to notify their drivers about the plan.

The memo, signed by Deputy Director of Taxis Services Christiane Hayashi, says not only will the SFMTA issue the bumper stickers, but it has also issued "guidance" to the Parking Control Officers (PCO's) instructing them not to ticket taxi drivers who are actively loading or unloading in bike lanes.

In 2010, taxis (mainly day drivers) were grossly targeted by the PCO's along main boulevards such as the Embarcadero (in front of the Ferry Building) and along downtown areas of Market St.  Both of those boulevards have bike lanes, with Market St. having what is known as a "separated" lane.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Commentary On Supervisor David Campos' Resolution Urging MTA To Reconsider 5% Credit Card Fees. By John Han.

October 13, 2011:  Supervisors committee voted 2-1 in 
favor of resolution urging the MTA to reconsider passing 
5% credit charges onto drivers.  Photo by John Han.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on a resolution next week urging the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) to "reconsider" a policy that allows 5% credit card fees to be passed from cab companies to cab drivers.

The Board's three person Government Audit and Oversight Committee voted 2-1 in favor of the resolution last Thursday, and is now expected to go to the full Board at its regular meeting on Tuesday, October 25th, 2011.

The resolution, introduced by Supervisor David Campos, would be non-binding should it pass next week, because the Board of Supervisors does not regulate the taxi industry.  The MTA does.

The resolution urges the MTA to, "reconsider and abandon the decision to shift the burden of credit card merchant charges to the city cab drivers", citing that it overturns an existing transportation code forbidding such practice, and that it would be "unfair" to pass such legitimate costs of doing business onto the industry's workers... workers who typically do not have benefits or pensions.  

The resolution includes other reasons and may be read in its entirety by CLICKING HERE. 

Campos' Resolution and the Importance Of Last Thursday's Committee Meeting:

During last week's committee meeting, Supervisor David Campos expressed three key reasons for introducing his resolution.  In the following text I, (apologize for its length), elaborate and assess Campos' ideas.  

1)  The Fairness Of It.    Campos said he was concerned about the fairness of 5% credit card fees.  Is he right?  We'll examine and you can decide for yourself...