Sunday, July 31, 2011

SF Transit Operator/Taxi Drivers Organizing Meeting August 1st. Message From Dean Clark.

An open meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 1st, 2011 from 6pm to 9pm, between San Francisco taxi drivers and MUNI bus workers. (Everyone is welcome) 

These meetings are to strengthen relations between the taxi workers and bus workers, and to envision a more united and organized public transit worker front.  Taxi drivers of late have been protesting 5% credit card fees, rear seat payment terminals, and electronic waybill tracking. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SF Board Of Supervisors Fails To Pass Resolution Against 5% Credit Card Fees Passed To Taxi Drivers. By John Han.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted on a resolution Tuesday to urge the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) to "reconsider and abandon" its decision to shift the burden of credit card fee costs to taxi drivers.  But the resolution failed because it need 8 votes to pass and was one short in a 7-4 vote.

The 'yes' votes were - David Campos, Malia Cohen, Jane Kim, Eric Mar, Ross Mirkarimi, John Avalos, and David Chiu.

The 'no' votes were - Carmen Chu, Mark Farrell, Sean Elsbernd, and Scott Weiner.

The resolution was introduced by David Campos and co-sponsored by Supervisors John Avalos and Ross Mirkarimi.

Had the resolution passed, it would have been non-binding but would have sent a message to the MTA that the Board of Supervisors does not support credit card charges passed to taxi drivers.

Carmen Chu said that she was against the resolution because the MTA has already approved an increase in distance and wait time meter rate, and is expected to consider a $.40 increase in the flag drop at its upcoming August 2nd meeting, and that this should offset credit card costs against drivers.

Campos said that although the resolution failed by one vote, there was nontheless a majority vote amongst the Supervisors to urge the MTA to abandon its decision to pass credit card fees to taxi drivers.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Recap of Monday’s Taxi Advisory Council Meeting, July 25, 2011. By John Han.

The San Francisco Taxi Advisory Council (TAC) passed a motion at its Monday, July 25th meeting to recommend to the MTA Board of Directors, to end the credit card fee waiver that allows credit card fees of up to 5% to be passed onto taxi drivers. 

The motion was made by council member David Khan, and passed in a split decision 8-7.  The 'yes' votes were Tara Housman, Tone Lee, John Han, David Khan, Barry Korengold, Bill Minikel, Bill Mounsey, and Ruach Graffis.

Under San Francisco's existing Transportation Code, credit card fees may not be legally passed to taxi drivers.  

San Francisco Transportation Code Section 1106(p)(6) says, 

"A Color Scheme shall provide cashiering services to any Driver for credit and debit card transactions collected by that Driver as payment of taxi fare while that Driver was driving a vehicle affiliated with that Color Scheme, and shall not charge a Driver for any merchant account processing fees for fares paid by credit or debit card."

However, on July 6, 2010, the MTA Board of Directors authorized SFMTA Taxi Services staff to waive Section 1106(p)(6) that protects taxi drivers from being charged credit card fees, and allow taxi companies to pass credit card processing fees to their drivers under certain conditions.  There are two essential conditions for companies to meet under the waiver in order to qualify.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ed Reiskin Now Is MTA's New Chief Director.

So it's official.  Ed Reiskin, former director of Public Works, is now the new executive director of the MTA.  City Hall and the SF Bicycle Coalition are both praising the decision.  He rides bikes and takes MUNI.  From what I'm reading, he seems like a likable guy.

Hopefully, he'll recognize the need and importance that taxis play in beautiful San Francisco.  Hopefully, he'll keep an open ear to the troubles of cab drivers and listen to their needs.

Read the latest on Ed Reiskin...

SF Bay Guardian
Huffington Post
Streets Blog

MTA Board To Revisit Taxi Items August 2nd, 2011. But What Items Will It Consider? By John Han.

Photo by John Han. 
The MTA Board of Directors will once again be discussing taxi items during its Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 regular meeting.  

Although the agenda has not been posted yet, one main item to be discussed will be whether to issue up to 125 new medallions.  That number could be looked at in any combination of part-time, peak-time, single operator / single shift, full-time transferable, or full-time non-transferable medallions.  Should be an interesting discussion to anyone who cares about taxis.

But what about resolving the credit card fees issue... its rate being an excessively high 5% because it has to help pay for rear seat payment terminals?  And, what about implementation on the distance and wait time meter increase that was approved by the Board on it's May 17th meeting?  How about the flag drop increase that was supposed to be reviewed at its June 21st meeting?  All these items were supposed to be discussed June 21st.  Instead, all taxi items were cancelled that day.

A San Francisco Resident's View On Rear Seat Passenger Information Monitors. MTA, You Should Read This.

Taxi TV.
If there's anyone in the taxi industry claiming that SF taxi drivers love "Taxi TVs" and are dying to have them in their cabs just like they have in New York... 

... or more importantly... 

... if anyone's saying that passengers love them too and are dying to have them in cabs here in San Francisco like in New York, then consider this little something that could balance some light on it.  

Hopefully, you will see. 

This is an excerpt from an article titled, "Pick Up Artists", by Bess Kalb.  It was published in the Huffington Post dated July 19, 2011.  

To briefly introduce it, Kalb in her article talks about the many odd and colorful characters she's come across while taking taxis in San Francisco.  Then there's a part where she briefly mentions the recent protests over credit card fees, rear seat payment terminals, and electronic waybills.  Kalb is a San Francisco resident, a writer, and according to her article a frequent taxi rider.   

Here is a clip in which she mentions a little bit about San Francisco's new 'Taxi TVs'... 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ed Reiskin To Be Named MTA's New Chief.

Ed Reiskin.
The SF Examiner, the Chronicle, and others, are pointing to Ed Reiskin, former director of Public Works, to be named the MTA's new executive director and CEO Thursday.  Reiskin will replace outgoing Nathaniel Ford who left under pressure from directors.  Debra Johnson, director of Administration, Taxis, and Accessible Services filled in during the interim.

According to SF Gate, Reiskin has agreed to a three year contract at a salary of $294,000 a year.  That's said to be $15,000 less than Nathaniel Ford's base salary.  He is scheduled to begin August 15th.

CLICK HERE to read SF Gate's article by Rachel Gordon.
CLICK HERE to read the SF Examiner's article by Will Reisman.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

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

Photo by John Han. 
While the Municipal Transportation Agency is busy hiring a new executive director, and even put out an online survey to get the public’s input on a new chief, life continues to go on relatively normal everywhere else in the world, including in the SF taxi industry.

The Taxi Advisory Council (TAC) passed two motions Monday.  The first was to recommend to the MTA Board of Directors that it remove the electronic waybill requirement from the credit card fee waiver.  Ruach Graffis made the motion.  This passed nearly unanimously with only two dissenting votes – Bill Mounsey and Athan Rebelos.

If the MTA were to adopt this, it would mean that cab companies that want to pass credit card fees onto their drivers could do so without having to have the capability to produce electronic waybills.  
For those who do not want electronic waybills, this may be a good thing.  

Additionally, the July 1st, 2011 deadline to implement electronic waybills industry wide was postponed indefinitely.  This was to allow time for Taxi Services Staff to conduct research and outreach regarding concerns raised by taxi drivers.  The MTA is expected to revisit electronic waybills after 120 days from the original July 1st deadline.  To read more background about the SFMTA credit card waiver and electronic waybills CLICK HERE.

The second motion that passed was by Barry Korengold. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

SF Passenger Raves About A Taxi Ride! Read Why!

Photo by John Han.
This is a comment posted in the "Ask A Cab Driver" section of this website dated July 10, 2011.  Read the person's comment and you may conclude that whoever the driver was that this person raves about, it seems most likely that the taxi is owned by a driver, not a company.  Just goes to show how creative owner operators can be when they enjoy their jobs and want to make it fun.  

It is also an example of the kinds of better, more enjoyable service quality that becomes possible when drivers own their own cabs and take pride in it.  This person's comments are not necessarily related to single operator/single shift taxis, but single shift taxis promotes driver owned taxis.  Creative people who own their own businesses could mean vastly better service overall.  

Also, if anyone knows the answer to the person's question, that would be great!  (John Han, Taxi TownSF publisher.)

Here is the person's comment...

Each night after work I take a taxi home. The other evening I had the best ride home from the coolest driver with the most tricked out mini SUV Yellow Cab taxi I have ever been in. When I went to enter the cab I noticed the windows were slightly tinted and there were flashing lights popping from behind them. I thought "Should I get in?"

Woah! Am I glad I did. There were neon lights and flashing bulbs neatly strung on the interior roof, really cool music, "Love Forever" dove decals on the windows, a small disco ball in a cup holder and little black skulls on the dashboard. What a "fine ride!"

But it got even better when we made it to 3rd and Market and he put the hydraulic's on and the taxi started bucking and lurching! I loved it. Driving up Kearney Street I could not resist lowering the windows and as pedestrians looked in awe they gave their thumbs up to the taxi.

Has anyone else out there been in this "hoppin" Yellow Cab taxi? Yellow Cab says they have over 500 cabs in The City and do not know who it might be. Is there anyway you can find out who the driver is, divulge his cell phone if he permits or get his medallion number so I can call and request him again?

Again, it was the best ride home ever and I would love to obtain his services many more times in the future.

Robbery Report.

Photo by John Han.
Call Type:  Robbery w/ Gun
Date:  7/10/11
Time:  0410 hrs.
Case#:  110552591
Location:  Grove St / Lyon St
District:  Park
Suspect(s):  BM 20-25, BM 20-25, BM 20-25
Suspect Vehicle:  N/A
Weapon Type:  Handgun
Arrest:  No 
Victim(s):  OM 66
Injury:  N/A
Condition:  N/A
Loss:  $120.00
M.O./Summary:  V picked up Suspects as fare.  S1 demanded money.  Suspects searched V and stole his money.  S1-S2 hit V’s head with their handguns and fled.
Case Officer/Inspector:  Ofc. Kohrs #2432 Co. F
JS #1895

Friday, July 8, 2011

D.C. Taxi Heist: How a new law would screw drivers and riders.

(Click on the Screen to watch the video)

(Note from the blog's publisher:  With San Francisco's medallions being put up for sale, and with cab company reps openly pushing for more medallions... even for corporate medallions, I thought it'd be interesting to link to this article about what could be happening with taxicabs in Washington D.C.  By linking to this article, I'm not necessarily promoting "deregulation", but it brings up some interesting points that could help reflect on our own industry.  Hopefully, it'll make a good read and viewing for your weekend.  This article was published by Reason TV.  The link was sent in by a driver.  Thanks for reading Taxi TownSF.  John Han.)

Washington, D.C. is considering a bill that would require every cab driver in the city to own a special permit called a medallion. The total number of medallions would be capped at 4,000, which would reduce the current number of cabs by more than one-third and put thousands of drivers out of business. (The city government has no idea how many licensed cabs are in the district, though estimates range from 6,500 to 10,000.)
If that weren’t bad enough, most drivers wouldn’t have the option of buying a medallion. The first set of medallions would be offered for sale to the minority of cabbies who have been driving for at least five years and who live in Washington D.C. (Again the city government has no idea how many current drivers meet this criteria, but rising real estate prices and weak city services have led many drivers to leave the district.)
Who will be offered the next set of medallions, according to the bill? That would be cab companies, who could then rent medallions to drivers. This system would destroy the relatively open-access taxi industry in D.C., in which the majority of drivers are owner-operators free to make their own schedules and keep whatever money they earn on the job. In cities such as New York and Boston, drivers pay upwards of $800 a week to rent their medallions.
Cab riders would also suffer under the new regime. 
CLICK HERE to read the full article.

"Bed Bugs"

I was living in a hotel at the end of West 71st Street. Nice neighborhood, great view, but it was a dump, and it became infested with bedbugs. They were living in my wooden platform bed, and I didn’t want to use a toxic substance on them. So I thought about it for a week or so and let them bite me and suck my blood.

Finally one Sunday night I parked the cab at 1 am and went into an all night grocery and bought a couple of cans of the most virulent insect killer available. I was having a bad night anyway, so I went home, opened the windows, pulled the bed apart, and sprayed all its’ pieces. By the time I finished it was 3 am.

I figured I’d go out and pick up a few stragglers and then turn in. The cab wasn’t due in until 5. 

I had one ride and then was hailed at 94th and Second, by two men in their twenties: one Hispanic and one Black, clean cut with a mustache. 

At this time in New York East 96th Street was the demarcation line between the rich Upper East Side and Spanish Harlem, so these two somewhat questionable passengers were in the Safe Zone, but just. They gave me a destination in the East 50’s, a good neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Taxi Advisory Council To Discuss 5% Credit Card Fees, Monday, July 11, 2011. By John Han.

A portion of the 5% credit card charges that drivers now
pay includes costs for purchasing, installing and
maintaining rear seat Passenger Information Monitors (PIMs).  

On Monday, July 11, 2011, the SFMTA Taxi Advisory Council (TAC) is expected to discuss whether to continue with 5% credit card fees or lower them to 3%, or whether to have credit card fees at all.  As you may be aware, the credit card fee rate is set at a higher 5% in order to include paying the costs to install and maintain rear seat Passenger Information Monitors (PIMs) that are now being installed in taxis.

Public comment will be available at this meeting.

This is an opportunity for drivers to tell the TAC, and the deputy director of SFMTA Taxi Services, Christiane Hayashi, whether or not drivers want to have rear seat PIMs operating in their taxicabs, and whether rates should be set at 5%.

Friday, July 1, 2011

San Francisco Taxi Workers And Muni Operators Scheduled Organizing Meeting This Sunday, June 3rd. By Steve Zeltzer.

San Francisco Taxi drivers and SF Muni Operators will be having an organizing meeting on Sunday July3  6:00 PM at 201 Turk St. San Francisco.  Sponsored by Taxi drivers, Transit Operators Rank and File Coalition, United Public Workers For Action