Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Peak Time Trials. By Jane Bolig.

Photo by John Han.
Jane Bolig is president of De Soto Cab.  

It’s obvious why peak time franchise permits might be attractive to SFMTA: The cab industry makes the investment and takes the risk, while MTA enjoys the rewards. In theory. In practice, risk is not so easily shed.
Good alternatives that work for customers, the industry and SFMTA—while bringing in revenue—do exist.
John Han early last year proposed single operator medallions: cabs driven by just one person, presumably at the busiest times.
Chris Hayashi’s proposal for peak time company medallions—minus the franchise element—is also worth exploring.
Carl Macmurdo and I independently made proposals at the November 22 TAC Meeting. I expect that Carl and others will expand on their ideas very shortly. But I’d also like to share my own, meant not as a final solution, but a test of reasonable ideas to find out which work best.

First, SFMTA would begin a long-term public convenience and necessity study.
Six months into the study SFMTA would issue 100 peak time medallions in a one-year pilot program:
  • 25 owner/operator medallions with time constraints, perhaps 40 to 60 hours of operation time per week. The medallion holder would have to drive a specified number of hours a year, say, 400, but could hire drivers to work the remaining hours.
  • 25 single operator medallions, with no restriction on the number of hours worked, but not to be driven by anyone other than the medallion holder under penalty of revocation.
  • 50 company permits to qualifying* companies, each limited to 40 to 60 hours per week of operation.
Initially, all medallions would be issued without charge, drivers on the waiting list getting first crack.
The report issued at the conclusion of the long-term PCN study would also be the end of the pilot test. Assuming its success, medallion holders would be offered the choice of buying their medallions at a set price, or keeping and surrendering them after three years for issuance to a driver-purchaser.
What happens to a medallion of a kind that was deemed unsuccessful? It might be converted to a type that was a success, or allowed to expire after three years.
I’ve tried to imagine a program relatively simple both to administer and to track, with sufficient medallions to give a reasonable idea of each group’s effectiveness without disruption to the industry at large.
Revenue from such a program would be neither as instantaneous nor as large as franchising medallions, but it would still be substantial—without liability risk. For peak time medallion holders it provides an intrinsic incentive to succeed and a real investment in their future.
*issued proportionately, based on highest ratio of orders per cab and able to supply GPS and dispatch information in digital format


  1. What about the concern of loss revenues for drivers who work five days a week and pay outrageous gates. These additional drivers will make a dent in the revenues of the regular drivers who drive weekly. Will there be a gate reduction for those? or rate increase to make up the difference. We have not had a rate increase in about 8 years? I understand that there are times when we do need more cabs on the street, but those are the times current taxi drivers make up for those days when there are too many taxis on the street. I suggest we help educate the public how to flag a cab appropriately and maybe we will find out that peak time medallions might not be the answer. Making additional revenues off of a driver who does not have health care, guaranteed wage, nor retirement should be criminal. I have a suggestion lets have all city employees give up their health care and retirement and work on a productivity basis. We would pay considerably less, based on productivity alone we would be paying about 5.00 a year for city employee service, because that's how much productive work we get.

  2. Hey Anonynous,

    $5.00 a year, ha ha! LOL

  3. I know there have been times I have made less than that working a twelve hour shift as a taxi driver!


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