Thursday, April 28, 2011

Angry Readers And Angry Comments, on Taxi TownSF

Photo by John Han.
(Updated Notice From The Publisher)  It was originally conceived that this website would be a platform for anyone to express any view, uncensored, as long as they were relevant to the taxi industry.

The idea was that any reader who then subsequently may have found an author's views to be frivolous could comment in the comment box, and effectively correct any erroneous statements, views, etc.  For example, in comments made under the entry entitled, "San Francisco Taxi Driver Robbed Again, April 22, 2011.  By Dean Clark.", it is conceivable that the author could be edified by the responses from readers, and thus influence  an author's original outlook. 

But as a response to the comments made under that entry, changes have been made to the "Submit A Post" section. Any future submissions will be checked for factual accuracy, spelling and grammar, and "descriptive accuracy". Submissions will be sent back to the author for corrections and changes when necessary. If you're interested, click on "Submit a Post" to see new criteria.

Also, an anonymous person put a fair, but critical comment about taxi drivers on "Ask A Cab Driver".  Here's the person's comment, and then my response.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Taxi Town Hall Meetings Are Scheduled. From the SFMTA.


About the Taxi Town Hall meetings...

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) periodically schedules “Taxi Town Hall” meetings in order to provide an open forum to discuss matters that affect the San Francisco taxi industry.

These are informal meetings, in which members of the taxi industry and members of the public are invited to attend to express their ideas and opinions about issues that are important to you relating to taxis in San Francisco.

Upcoming Dates/Topics for Town Hall Meeting

2nd Floor Atrium, 1 South Van Ness Avenue
South Van Ness Avenue and Market Street, at the Van Ness Muni Metro subway station; Muni bus routes 6, 14, 14L, 47, 49, 71, 71L and the F Line
Date Topic

May 11, 2011, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Meter Increase, Credit Card Fees & Passenger Information Monitors (PIMs)

May 16, 2011, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Electronic Waybills & Peak Time Permits
Additional dates will be posted as they are scheduled.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Recap of Monday’s Taxi Advisory Council Meeting, April 24, 2011. By John Han.

At last Monday's Taxi Advisory Council (TAC) meeting April 24, 2011, the council passed a motion making a preliminary recommendation to continue selling medallions beyond the duration of the pilot program, and to continue selling indefinitely.  The motion, introduced by Carl Macmurdo and seconded by Athen Rebelos, passed with a 9-5 vote.  The aye votes were Jim Gillespie, Laurie Graham, John Lazar, Athen Rebelos, David Khan, Dmitry Nazorov, Richard Hybels, Dan Hinds, and Carl Macmurdo.  The no votes were John Han, Chris Sweiss, Barry Korengold, Bill Mounsey, and Bill Minikel.  Timothy Ajaegbu was absent.

"Is There Money To Be Made As A Taxi Driver?", A Reader Asks. By John Han

Don't you wish?  Too bad, this one's just Photoshop.  Photo by
John Han.
To the reader - Well, not really.  But then again, it all depends on what you mean by "money to be made".  It's relative.  

That's what a reader wants to know in the "Ask A Cab Driver" section of this website, the reader's comment dated April 22, 2011.   The question is, "Is there money to be made as a taxi driver?"

My answer - If you mean a six figure income, the answer typically is no.  But can a taxi driver earn as much as $65,000 a year  in gross income even without a medallion?  Sure.  Of course.  But it isn't considered the norm.  

A night driver once told me he earns about $65,000 a year, and that's without a medallion.  And I believe him.  Why not?  But he said he drives Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights on an assigned cab.  That's considered one of the best shifts because the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights are the busiest nights.   And he has an assigned cab so he drives the same cab every night, and sometimes that can help make driving cab easier.  But most non-medallion taxi drivers would say that they're not making that much.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Credit Card Fees, Cab Companies, And The SFMTA's Waiver. Is the City giving in to big advertisers? By John Han.

De Soto Cab, Verifone Taxi Tv.  Photo By John Han. 
Part 1 of 2:

At the April 5th, 2011 MTA Board meeting, Board Director Malcolm Heinicke said that he had, "more questions than answers", after hearing many of the drivers protest credit fees and other issues.  Director Heinicke may not be aware that most likely, his is not an isolated sentiment.  

At that SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board meeting (SFMTA), 50-60 or so San Francisco taxi drivers led by driver Tariq Mehmood protested the fees and electronic waybills.  Regardless of varied opinions over Mr. Mehmood and those drivers' action, their action resulted in MTA Board president Nathaniel Ford moving to schedule town hall meetings to further discuss the matters in a public setting.  No dates have been announced yet for those meetings.  Even despite public meetings though, the 5% charge backs are expected to stand, regardless of outcome of any public forum discussions.

Meanwhile, a May 17th MTA Board meeting is scheduled to discuss a taxi meter rate increase.

Even in leu of a possible meter increase, many drivers remain frustrated… and some even furious.  


What Cab Companies In San Francisco Are Saying About "Taxi TVs". Part 2 of a 2 Part Segment. By John Han.

De Soto Cab, Verifone Taxi TV.  Photo by John Han.
Part 2 of 2, continued from, “Credit Card Fees, Cab Companies, And The SFMTA’s Waiver” (photos by John Han)

The following are excerpts from comments made by three representatives from three of San Francisco's well known cab companies, regarding Taxi Tvs, and 5% credit card fees.  

Mark Gruberg, United Taxi Workers and Co-Founder of Green Cab.  (April 22, 2011)

(Green Cab is not participating in the SFMTA's offer for a waiver at this time.  It is not installing the rear seat Tvs, because it says it has no intention, to date, to pass its credit card fees onto its drivers.)  

"I think the rear seat terminals are being put in by a profit making company that's seeking to make money off of ad revenues."

"I, first of all, don't think they're [SFMTA Taxi Services] being honest and straightforward about the financing.  There are two different streams of revenue.  One is the ad revenue and the other is the processing fees [from the drivers], and somebody's making money off both."

Friday, April 22, 2011

"San Francisco Taxi Driver Robbed Again April 22, 2011." By Dean Clark.

Photo by John Han.
Once again a San Francisco Taxi Driver robbed on April 22 nd around 3:00 a.m. by another entitled person who felt like he did not have to pay for his fare. The fare totaled 16.15 not to mention the time spent trying to get the police to come to the scene, which never occurred because there were higher priority calls.

Here is what happened.  The passenger called around 3:00 a.m. to National Cab Company requesting a cab at 190 Bradford (Courtland and Bradford) in San Francisco Potrero Hill neighborhood. I got to the call and a man came out in his 30's looked kind of shady and said he wanted to go to 3rd and Folsom. When we got to 3rd and Folsom the man did not have enough money to pay the fare, so I told him I accept credit cards. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MTA To Hold A Meeting On Meter Rate Increase In May.

Photo by John Han.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which governs the City's taxi operations, will hold a meeting to discuss meter rate increases, according to the SF Examiner.

Reporter Will Reisman of the Examiner says the meeting will be on May 17, and that there are currently no details of how much the increase would be.

At the last Taxi Advisory Council meeting held April 11, 2011, the council voted unanimously to urge the MTA to hold a public meeting in which to discuss meter rate increases.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Taxi Driver Vs. The DPT, Round 3, Ticket Dismissed! After Long Wait, Court Favors Driver. By John Han.

Photo by John Han.
This is the third, and for now, the final round of the Taxi Driver Vs. the DPT.  The Superior Court recognized the hardship and unfair conditions of the taxi worker and dismissed my ticket, first issued in late 2010.  Here's how it went down…

I had a court date scheduled at the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. last Friday morning, April 15th.  I brought an arsenal of paperwork because I thought that I would have to make a case before the traffic court the same way I had tried, but failed, with the hearing officer at the MTA.  I brought a copy of …

1)      The ticket.
2)      My original letter requesting the SFMTA for administrative review, and then for in person meeting with an MTA hearing officer.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

From The Mayor's Office, Ed Lee Nominates Joel Ramos to the SFMTA Board of Directors

Joel Ramos.  Photo by Marta Lindsey
(From the Office of the Mayor)  Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced the nomination of Joel Ramos to the Board of Supervisors to serve on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors. Under the Charter, the Board of Supervisors has the authority to review and confirm the Mayor’s nominees to the SFMTA Board.

“As a regular transit rider and a daily bicyclist, Joel Ramos will bring valuable experience to the SFMTA Board as he is passionate about all modes of transportation, is a team builder that works with the community, and is focused on a transit-oriented City,” said Mayor Lee. “His past work has helped to maximize community involvement in transportation planning, and his service on the SFMTA Board will have lasting impacts on our City’s transit system to ensure it is safe, reliable and affordable for all users.”

Recap of Monday’s Taxi Advisory Council Meeting, April 11, 2011. By John Han.

The Taxi Advisory Council (TAC) voted on two motions that passed overwhelmingly last Monday.  The first was Carl Macmurdo’s motion citing SF Transportation Code 1122(a), urging the MTA Board to hold a public meeting for a meter rate increase.  Transportation Code 1122(a) reads…

Beginning in calendar year 2010 and at least every other calendar year thereafter the SFMTA Board shall hold a hearing to determine, in its sole discretion, whether the rates of fare and cap on gate fees then in effect should be increased, decreased or remain unchanged.”

Council members Jim Gillespie, Athan Rebelos, and Chris Sweis were absent for the Monday's meeting.  Macmurdo’s motion passed unanimously by the council members who were present.

When Organizing Taxi Drivers, Could SF Learn A Thing Or Two From New York?

Bhairavi Desai, New York Taxi Workers Alliance.
Photo by Martha Camarillo.
Info Sent In by SF Taxi Driver Bud Hazelkorn.

Below is a link to an article
published in the April 18, 2011 edition of New Yorker magazine.  It is entitled, "Thin Yellow Line, A Taxi Driver's Advocate," by Lizzie Widdicombe.  It profiles Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.  Desai and the TWA gained prominence in 1998 after organizing a strike that kept most of New York's taxi off the streets for a day.  

"Taxi drivers are the witnesses to, collaborators with, and scapegoats of the city's neuroses, 'They are the ultimate outsiders on the inside,'  Desai says."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Passenger Comments On Taxi TownSF, Wants Some Answers! By John Han.

Photo by John Han.
A San Francisco resident, apparently living here for 15 years, has posed a few questions to Taxi TownSF.  The anonymous inquirer claims to be a regular taxi rider and wants to know why it is so hard to get reliable phone service.  The post was submitted to this website under the category that used to be called "Comments and Cab Stories".  But because of the rider's questions, I decided to change that heading to "Ask A Cab Driver".  If more riders know about an online page where they could ask cab drivers questions, hopefully a section of this website could help offer enlightenment.

Here are the rider's questions and then my answers.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

SFMTA Listens To Taxi Drivers... For Now. By John Han

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) said Tuesday, that it will discuss further the concern amongst drivers, over cab companies passing 5% credit card fees onto taxi drivers, and driver privacy rights surrounding the implementation of electronic waybills. 

At its April 5 full Board meeting, an estimate of 50-60 cab drivers made the presence felt during general public comment, some of them filling the overflow room.

Are We in Kansas, San Francisco, Or New York? The Colonization of San Francisco. By Cee Jay.

Cee Jay is a San Francisco taxi driver.

I wish to point out a number of fallacies about the use of bankcards being issued to San Francisco taxi drivers by the City’s taxi companies. 

Along the way, remember that our interest as drivers is first that of our own survival and then the company, not the reverse. Others may wish to convey that we as drivers, the City, and then the companies all have the same to lose or to gain. Were this so, wouldn’t we all have an equal amount of power in decision-making? 

Free To Download And Better Than A 5% Fee. Already Got A Smart Phone, Why Not Try Square?

This info is courtesy of Garret McManus, from Square.

Square’s card processing fees are simply:
2.75% for swiped transactions
3.5% + 15¢ for keyed-in transactions

There are no activation, gateway, monthly, early termination, hidden fees or any additional costs to use Square. Every credit or debit card we accept has the same flat rate.

Our fees are taken out of each transaction as they occur; there is no fee schedule. Square also does not require a contract upon signup, and since we only charge per transaction, it doesn’t cost you anything if you don’t use it. Also, the Square card reader is free!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Permit Holder Driving Requirements, and Permit Sales Questions. By Wes Hollis

Wes Hollis is proprietor of Executive Cab.


I see no logical reasion why the driving requirement should be any different for a taxicab permit purchaser than for a regular permit-holder.  What the basic driving requirement for a taxicab permit holder should logically be (and always should have been),  is 150, 5 hour shifts, or 750 total hours per year.  After all, permit holders should be entitled to two weeks vacation every year.  There absolutely should be reduced driving requirements based on the permit holders age.  Here's what's reasonable (based on insurance company statistics):  

  • Age 65:  100, 5 hour shifts, or 500 total hours per year.
  • Age 70:    50, 5 hour shifts, or 250 total hours per year.  
  • Age 75:   Elimination of the driving requirement.

A Message From SFMTA Taxi Services Division: Regarding Traffic Tickets and Taxis.

Photo by John Han.
This message was forwarded by SFMTA Taxi Services Division via email and is now being forwarded through this blogsite Taxi TownSF.

"We are advised by our Enforcement staff that if you encounter a particular Parking Control Officer who seems to be acting unreasonably, that it is important to communicate that information to us at the SFMTA, INCLUDING that person’s badge number or the citation number and the reason why you consider the person’s behavior to be unreasonable.  With this information we can follow up with particular PCOs with counseling when necessary.  Please try to limit your complaints to citations that are clearly unjustified and we will work with you to reduce the incidents of such citations. Thank you."
SFMTA | Division of Taxis & Accessible Services
1 South Van Ness Avenue, 7th Floor
San FranciscoCA 94103-5417
Tel:  415.701.4400 | Fax: 415.701.5437

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Robberies and Assaults on SF Taxi Drivers Continues.

Photo by John Han
Here's a couple of this week's updates on crimes against cab drivers.  In addition to "forced tipping" from cab companies, unfair traffic tickets by MTA Parking Control Officers, and now a transaction fee from a pass through on credit card fees, (and possibly the credit card fees themselves), taxi drivers are still robbed the old fashioned way too... with guns and beat downs.

The SF Examiner this week reports two incidents....
"Three Charged In Armed Robbery Of SF Taxi Driver"  SF Examiner
"Cab Driver Knocked Out By Customer Over Fare Dispute"  SF Examiner