Wednesday, June 15, 2011

MTA Retaliating Against A Strike? Agency Takes All Taxi Items Off Of The June 21st Agenda. By John Han.

The MTA's desire to see rear seat "Taxi Tvs" is driving credit
card fees up to 5% for taxi drivers in SF.  There is reason to believe
that taxi drivers would settle down and accept a 3% fee instead.
That rate could be achieved if "Taxi Tvs"were removed from
 the City's credit card waiver requirement.
Has the MTA just made its first move to avert a strike?   On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, SFMTA Taxi Services Division informed the industry that, 

"all taxi-related items, including the flag drop fare increase and the proposed issuance of new permits, will be pulled off of the agenda of the meeting of the SFMTA Board of Directors on June 21st, and will be rescheduled to a later meeting"

I can't say I'm certain that there's a connection, but this update was sent out to the industry on the same day that the San Francisco Examiner reports that a strike is likely to happen this Tuesday.  It is the same Tuesday, June 21st, that the MTA Board of Directors was to discuss not only an increase in the flag drop and issuance of new permits, but also the allocation of credit card fees.
Not only that, the Examiner says there is a Giants game Tuesday, and six conventions including one that could draw 10,000.

There are already drivers perceiving the MTA's action as an attempt to thwart the strike.  Will it work?  

Here is the full message from Taxi Services...

"Good afternoon, all:

This is to let you know that environmental review of the proposed issuance of new medallions will not be complete in time for the June 21, 2011 SFMTA Board of Directors meeting.  Accordingly, all taxi-related items, including the flag drop fare increase and the proposed issuance of new permits, will be pulled off of the agenda of the meeting of the SFMTA Board of Directors on June 21st, and will be rescheduled to a later meeting.  The Board will not calendar the item before environmental review on the proposed issuance of new medallions is complete.  Therefore, I can’t inform you at this time whether these taxi-related items, including the flag drop fare increase and the proposed issuance of new permits, will be heard at the specially scheduled Board meeting of June 28, or whether it will have to wait until the following meeting, scheduled for August 2, 2011.  I will send notice to this list as soon as I have updated information on when these items will be heard by the Board.

SFMTA | Division of Taxis & Accessible Services
1 South Van Ness Avenue, 7th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103-5417
Tel:  415.701.4400 | Fax: 415.701.5437" 

Also, here is KTVU's reporting of a possible strike.



  1. post hoc ergo propter hoc

  2. For a moment I scratched my head over Richard's comment -- post hoc ergo propter hoc -- and then I looked it up on my handy Latin translator app, and this is what it said: "Environmental review, shenvironmental shreview! The SFMTA went eyeball to eyeball with Tariq Mahmoud, and, holy ergo propter, the SFMTA blinked!"

  3. They blinked? More like they're now delaying the meter raise and discussion of taxi issues.

  4. sounds more like the SFMTA is being tricky and vindictive.
    tricky in that the want to diffuse the emotion and take away publicity against them before they make and decisions unfavorable to the drivers.
    vindictive in the way they are saying if the drivers are going to complain we are not going to discusses these things with you. Kinda like when you are a kid and you say I am taking the ball and going home if someone doesn't play the game the way you want ..

  5. Some of this crisis is the tail wagging the dog, but some of it is the dog wagging its tail in a way the SFMTA Board just doesn't want to accept.
    I think the worst case scenario is possibly that taxi dilletantes like Malcolm Heinecke and Scott Wiener are just so disappointed to be told by the TAC (after its recommendations of last Monday's meeting) that the idea of "peak time" medallions is not economically viable, and that the closest the industry can come to their demand is to suggest "gypsy" cabs such as Toronto has learned to regret, that they want to demand "further study" until it is "discovered" that they were "right" about "peak time" after all. For once the TAC did not offer a finding that served the SFMTA in the completely abject way it expected (It was only "mostly abject"). It is obvious that "environmental review" says nothing, so I think it probable that the MTA is buying time to figure out what to do, and that it should not be assumed that they will do anything that benefits the drivers - or even the industry as a whole.
    I strongly believe that the deeper crisis is over a paradigm shift about the nature of taxi service. More and more people inside and out of the industry, and this certainly includes the passengers, are beginning to realize that throwing cabs at the service problem is not the answer - that using the fleet more efficiently is the answer. We need Open Taxi Access, and the MTA has already rejected this once, yet now the TAC has asked for it to be reconsidered. This is not a politics that the Board, least of all Heinecke and Wiener, even want to learn about. But the public quickly grasps the idea of OTA as the "Google Maps of Dispatch" and they unanimously, in my observation, think it's huge.
    Trying to be optimistic (something that in my 20 years of cab driving is almost never appropriate), perhaps we can hope that what seems like a vacuous call for "environmental review" means they actually want to go back to school - that would be a mercy, if they actually learned something. However, if they already think they know all about what the public wants, and all about how to run our industry, what hope do we have that they will reach reasonable conclusions?

  6. Brad re-read your Latin translator.
    Because two things occur together does not mean one caused the other.
    I don't think anybody is scared of Tariq and the "strike" will have very, very minimal effect

  7. Richard, there's a place for protests and strikes.

    The protests in April and May would seem they were effective in getting the recent approval for a meter increase now instead of later... like next year. Whether this new strike would achieve its goals is to be seen. But then, the goal has to be defined.

    In the Examiner, Tariq is quoted as saying that a reason for the strike is to "create awareness about the problems facing our industry." Therefore, if the strike even gets people talking about taxis for a while it could be considered a success in my opinion.

    I agree with you there are other factors to consider with respects to the removal of all taxi items. For example, Nat Ford is leaving at the end of the month. That could have something to do with it. And perhaps the environmental review for more taxis simply needs to be completed, and that's all there is to it.

    But I wish they'd tell us why the lack of an EIR has to mean ALL taxi items, including credit card fees, are off the agenda.

  8. John there is also a place for preachy people in the world to correct others and you seem to have occupied one of those slots.
    I occupy another and I'm in the perfect profession for that.
    I did not say there is no place for protest I said I don't fear that the forthcoming "strike" is going to bring SF to it's knees.
    I would be pleased as punch to go back to the old way of processing credit cards and that is for drivers to go to the Russian lady.
    Verifone crap is nothing but a giant headache for me. Having said that my drivers are very, very happy to have swipes in the cabs now. Like any business person they would love to get the processing for free just like I'd love to get the cabs they smash up fixed for free.

  9. It is never to be known. Never to be known


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