Thursday, July 21, 2011

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.

Hopefully, the MTA Board will revisit ALL of these items August 2nd, in addition to it considering whether to issue up to 125 new medallions, as all of these items are important... at least to taxi drivers.  So please MTA, let's talk about them.

Thanks.

Credit Card Fees At 5% and the Taxi Advisory Council:

With respects to the Taxi Advisory Council (TAC), the TAC will discuss credit card fees as its sole agenda item on Monday, July 25, 2011.

Therefore, may it suffice to say for now, that the SFMTA's current policy on 5% credit card fees is perceived by many within the industry to have been authored as a result of a closed door meeting, or meetings, between SFMTA Taxi Services Division, and mainly one single but influential person within the industry.  A person who is also said to be a paid consultant for one of the technology providers that makes the rear seat payment terminals, or "Taxi TVs".

The Taxi TVs are linked inseparably to the credit card rate of 5% that drivers tend to abhor, as well as they tend to abhor the machines themselves.  But the machines are being installed.  The companies are doing it.

And because the machines are said to be costly, and because the drivers are being required by the MTA under its current policy to pay for the machines through the credit card fees, the drivers shall be charged a processing rate of 5%, rather than a lower rate.

To read more about credit card fees and why the 5% rate is linked to rear seat payment terminals, CLICK HERE.

To read what I have proposed as a solution recently, and what people have called a reasonable solution (not a perfect solution), please CLICK HERE.

23 comments:

  1. Christiane HayashiJuly 22, 2011 at 7:33 AM

    John:

    I saw you yesterday afternoon and you could have simply asked me this question. Instead you make it look like there's some conspiracy afoot. That's your MO, I understand, but it is usually more productive to be straightforward--you get more information that way, even though for you I know it is harder to whip up anti-SFMTA sentiment if you can't rely on suspicion and distrust. Yes, credit card issues will be discussed under the Executive Director's report as an informational item to the Board. So will electronic waybills. But they are informational items, not for action by the Board.

    The two action items on the agenda for August 2 are the flag drop increase and the issuance of 87 new operating permits: 50 single operator permits, 25 medallions to the waiting list, 10 for sale and two temporary electric vehicle permits.

    Any more conspiracies that you want to unravel, you have my phone number.

    Christiane Hayashi
    Deputy Director, Taxi Services

    ReplyDelete
  2. Christiane:

    Actually, bumping into someone by accident at lunch is not a reliable way to get information out to the public.

    What you are advocating is that information be disseminated between connected individuals.

    I am advocating that information be put out as public announcement. And it will be once the SFMTA posts the agenda on its website. Actually, you've just publicly announced the agenda. Great! But before you did, I was simply expressing my wish that the agency revisit ALL the items it was supposed to consider on June 21st. That includes "clarification of credit card fees". (Nathaniel Ford, MTA Board meeting May 17, 2011.)

    For this, you say I'm alleging a conspiracy? Any intelligent reader would see there is no allegation of a conspiracy in the post.

    But here's your MO - you have a tendency to resort to sarcasm in an attempt to put down or discredit someone's petition or expression. You do it here in this reader comment section, you do it at town hall meetings, and you do it at the TAC. Your MO for mine?

    There is an anecdote out that the 5% credit card rate and rear seat PIMs was a policy drafted by you as a result of you meeting with essentially one other individual, without input from the rest of the industry at large, as to how to deal with credit card fees.

    It is not a conspiracy because I am not making any allegation. I am citing the anecdote.

    The credit card fee waiver was then presented and adopted by the MTA Board in 2010 before the formation of the TAC, and before the industry at large could have a chance to discuss it publicly. By the time it got to the newly formed TAC, it was already approved policy.

    Here's a valid question - Why did you do it this way?

    If you want to dispel any so-called conspiracy theories, why don't you answer this concern? Instead, you resort to sarcasm to try to discredit my concerns, by discrediting my personality.

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  3. Christiane:

    The only mistake that I see I've made in my post is that I did not clarify that I'd like to see the issue of credit card fees and the PIMs they're attached to to be an action item for the Board.

    The companies are putting them in and the longer the issue delays as only "informational items" the longer this controversial issue drags on.

    If the PIMs go into the vast majority of taxis, you will have succeeded in making what a vast majority of drivers, and a fair percentage of the rider-ship would consider a worsening of the industry.

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  4. Christiane:

    I could say so much more as I'm sure you could too. I won't go into lengthy reasons as to why I don't believe that simply having your phone number is necessarily the best way to get answers from you.

    You haven't given me a reason to take the time to get into that discussion. But if you want me to, I will. The ball is now in your court to further this discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi,

    As for not spinning conspiracy theories, John, what do you call this?

    "Therefore, may it suffice to say for now, that the SFMTA's current policy on 5% credit card fees is perceived by many within the industry to have been authored as a result of a closed door meeting, or meetings, between SFMTA Taxi Services Division, and mainly one single but influential person within the industry. A person who is also said to be a paid consultant for one of the technology providers that makes the rear seat payment terminals, or "Taxi TVs"."

    For me, that paragraph is a pretty good definition of spinning a conspiracy theory. Why, for instance, don't you use Hansu Kim's name?

    "A person who is also said to be a paid consultant ..." sounds much more sinister.

    The fact is that there was at least one Town Hall Meeting where several vendors showed their stuff. I was there and the doors were wide open. As I recall VeriPhone, the company that pays Kim as a consultant, had the least expensive rate in the room. One of them wanted 10%.

    I think Hansu Kim has completed the study that I instigated and claims that his drivers do make bigger tips with the backseat terminals.

    Which is why Deputy Director Hayashi chose Veriphone in the first place. At least that's what she told me when I called her up and asked her.

    And, you last comment on her comment is little short of amazing in its arrogance, to mention its ignorance of the way the world works.

    Like you'd be doing her a favor by calling her?

    "The ball is in your court"?

    She's only administrator in City, in the history of the city, who'd answer a phone call from a cab driver.

    If I were her, I wouldn't talk to you at all. You distort things people say for your own purposes.

    Anyway this all beside the point which probably is your point.

    There are a few important questions:

    !. Do you drivers like the terminals?

    2. Does the public like the terminals?

    3. Will drivers drivers make more with thees terminals? You'll notice I put this last. If the drivers and the public don't like the terminals, it doesn't matter whether you make the money or not.

    So, the personal attack that you've been making on the Deputy Director is totally unnecessary since it doesn't answer these questions.

    Ed Healy

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello Ed,

    I’ve always liked you from the first time I met you. And you’ve kept your comments here rather civilized, despite our disagreements. I will try to answer them with the same civility.

    YOUR QUESTION: “As for not spinning conspiracy theories, John, what do you call this?”… (then you quote me on the 5% issue)

    ANSWER: I call it a statement of fact. I am not making an allegation. But I am citing an anecdote. This is what people have said, some of them are influential personalities in the industry.

    YOUR QUESTION: “Why, for instance, don't you use Hansu Kim's name? “

    ANSWER: Why should I use the Mr. Kim’s name? Can you explain why I should?

    YOUR COMMENT: "A person who is also said to be a paid consultant ..." sounds much more sinister.”

    MY RESPONSE: Sinister? How so? Mr. Kim has openly said he is a paid consultant to Verifone, which is one of the technology service providers of the rear seat terminals. I’m not sure where you’re getting the “sinister” aspect. It’s a factual statement.

    YOUR COMMENT: “The fact is that there was at least one Town Hall Meeting where several vendors showed their stuff. I was there and the doors were wide open. As I recall VeriPhone, the company that pays Kim as a consultant, had the least expensive rate in the room. One of them wanted 10%.”

    MY ANSWER: Big deal. This does not address the question as to who authored the credit card fee waiver. The perception amongst people in the industry is that it was Hayashi who authored the credit card fee waiver with PIMs and a 5% rate, at the recommendations of Mr. Kim. Why wouldn’t the deputy director clarify publicly whether this is true or not? And if it is true, why won’t she assume some responsibility? Because if it is true, then her action has caused a lot of taxi drivers a lot of anguish. If it’s not true, she should explain how the credit card fee waiver came to be, so that we can know better how to deal with it.

    CONTINUED IN NEXT COMMENT...

    ReplyDelete
  7. YOUR COMMENT: “I think Hansu Kim has completed the study that I instigated and claims that his drivers do make bigger tips with the backseat terminals.”

    MY ANSWER: Am I supposed to feel reassured by this? You say, “I think”, but you don’t know for sure? You say that he, “claims”, but he cannot prove it?

    This contest you’ve instigated may be okay for you and your standards. But in my opinion, the MTA has to be held accountable to higher standards for data and evidence than a, “he said, she said” contest.

    YOUR COMMENT: “Which is why Deputy Director Hayashi chose Veriphone in the first place. At least that's what she told me when I called her up and asked her.”

    MY ANSWER: Good for you. Now please call her and ask her to explain to the rest of us whether she authored the credit card fee waiver or not. And if she did, who were her consultants, and why did she present it to the Board of Directors, and get it approved before there could be broader industry-wide input on the item?

    That is not a conspiracy theory. That is an inquiry.

    These are questions that I for one would like to have answered. I think others may want to have that answered too.

    And that doesn’t mean your contest. Because we were told that the data on tip percentages already exists without your contest and could be made readily available to anyone who would ask for it. Well, I’ve asked for the data numerous times. It has yet to be made available publicly.

    I guess I could disclose what Hayashi’s reasons were to me for not having that data available, but I’m not going to because I’m considerate.

    YOUR COMMENT: “And, you last comment on her comment is little short of amazing in its arrogance, to mention its ignorance of the way the world works.__Like you'd be doing her a favor by calling her? __"The ball is in your court"?”

    MY ANSWER: That’s right. Call it arrogance if you want. I don’t think it’s being arrogant. But if you think its arrogance, arrogance is not a crime.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I Just wanted to ask christiane how she justifies the thievery and robbery of the liveliehood and future hopes of the people who completely got shafted, meaning those who are on the list. The SFMTA said at the start they would work diligently to get through the list, so I ask you Christiane, where is the diligence, Two years ago my number was 250 on the list and guess what,today its still 250. What a joke, What a scam. What a rip off. Words can not explain how sick and disgusted I feel about this.I would go to one of those meetings and ask you straight to your face but been that one of my work days is a Monday I cant afford to miss out on my meager pittance. So Christiane I'm 50 years old I've been driving for 20 years, so do you think I will get my Medallion or have I just wasted all my time. I would really appreciate an answer.
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  9. CONTINUED RESPONSES TO ED'S COMMENTS...

    YOUR COMMENT: “She's only administrator in City, in the history of the city, who'd answer a phone call from a cab driver.”

    MY ANSWER: Then why did Jordanna Thigpen welcome me into her office numerous times to sit down and discuss taxi items when she was acting director of the Taxi Commission?

    YOUR COMMENT: “If I were her, I wouldn't talk to you at all. You distort things people say for your own purposes.”

    MY RESPONSE: What are my purposes?

    YOUR THOUGHTS: “Anyway this all beside the point which probably is your point.__There are a few important questions:__!. Do you drivers like the terminals?”

    MY ANSWER: No. Drivers, for the most part, do not like the terminals and don’t want them in their cabs. The MTA should have a pretty good feel for this by now.

    YOUR QUESTION: “Does the public like the terminals?”

    MY ANSWER: Most likely, this will be a mixed bag of answers. SF passengers are just beginning to become more familiar with them. I doubt many will rave about them, but some may. There are those who may find them exciting and entertaining at first. But it would most likely fade as whatever is on the screen would become repetitive. Many may find them unnoticeable as times goes on… just another fixture in a cab. Most passengers that I ask say the ones in NY are annoying and they turn them off as soon as they get in a cab. That should tell you something.

    YOUR COMMENT: “Will drivers drivers make more with thees terminals? You'll notice I put this last. If the drivers and the public don't like the terminals, it doesn't matter whether you make the money or not.”

    MY ANSWER: Well, according to you, Hayashi has looked at the data that proves that the PIMs increase a drivers tip percentage. Why don’t you call her up and ask her for a few copies of this data and then share it with the rest of us, because I have been unsuccessful in getting such copies from her in the past. If the studies you say exist show that the tip prompters convincingly increase tip percentages, then, maybe our opinions will change.

    YOUR FINAL COMMENT: “So, the personal attack that you've been making on the Deputy Director is totally unnecessary since it doesn't answer these questions.”

    MY RESPONSE: You accuse me of making a personal attack. I see myself as making valid arguments against a questionable policy, and calling into question the person or persons said to be responsible for the policy. They should own up and assume responsibility for what has largely contributed to four taxi protests so far and the possibility of a fifth one down the road.

    Hayashi is a nice person. But personality and style are of little relevance here. My complaints are valid. And my inquiries are valid.

    ReplyDelete
  10. One more thing Christiane due to the rape and violation ( for lack of better words ) that I feel not to mention the anguish and depression which in my opinion is job related, right now, Im having some health issues so my question is how does this driver fund work. Would I be entitled to anything if my health goes.
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Golly gee wiz, John Han,

    I'm really beginning to resent your comments you posted towards Hayashi and

    Healy, I mean, isn't that my department? MEOOOOOOOOOW.......................

    Johnny Walker

    ReplyDelete
  12. These are not attacks against people per se. These are closely examining a policy many people have expressed and demonstrated resentment against... much resentment.

    The people being mentioned are only mentioned because they are either directly involved in the process of that policy, or they have addressed me regarding the policy and/or my views on them. I'm not attacking Ed or Hayashi personally. But I am expressing a dislike towards their views.

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  14. Johnny Walker Sez,

    Well so much for taking the high ground and being above the fray, I don't think

    Were in Kansas anymore!

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  17. " I am expressing DISLIKE towards their views "

    Johnny Walker

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  18. I think MTA has done a very (un)professional job in forcing stuff through drivers' throats with rear seat terminals, credit card fees, etc. The taxi deputy director and the MTA board is corrupt. And hence they resort to attacks and comments like the ones above by Chris Hayashi and her friend Ed Healy. John, you are doing a great service by exposing these people who are making tens of thousands of dollars in kickbacks. Thank you.

    Taxi Driver

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi John,

    I've always liked you too but you don't seem to know the difference between an attack on a person and an attack on an idea.

    For instance, I think your article on the back-seat terminals is excellent - although I don't think the 5% necessarily has anything with them. The 5% is a more or less a country-wide standard (correct me if I'm wrong).

    In fact, you've just about convinced me that the terminals should go. If the drivers won't use them what's the point?

    As for the personal attack ... let's deconstruct this paragraph:

    " ... the SFMTA's current policy on 5% credit card fees is perceived by many within the industry to have been authored as a result of a closed door meeting, or meetings, between SFMTA Taxi Services Division, and mainly one single but influential person within the industry. A person who is also said to be a paid consultant for one of the technology providers that makes the rear seat payment terminals, or "Taxi TVs"."

    1. " ... Has been authored as a result of a closed door meeting ..."
    A. Definitely nefarious

    2. "or meetings, between SFMTA Taxi Services Division, and mainly one single but influential person within the industry. A person who is also said to be a paid consultant for one of the technology providers that makes the rear seat payment terminals, or "Taxi TVs"

    A. Once again definitely nefarious.

    You are implying that the SFMTA Taxi Division was paid off by this mysterious person.

    If you're going to make a claim like this you should be presenting evidence. And, since obviously don't have any evidence, you shouldn't be bringing it up.

    It also occurs to me that the reason you didn't mention Hansu Kim's name is that you don't want to get hit with a libel suit.

    Hayashi's a public figure - you can feel safe that say any nasty thing you want to about her. But Kim can sue you.

    A little wimpy buy you made the right word choice.

    Your article also fails to discuss why Hayshi, if she's into back door deals, has been the main person handing out Square (with it 2.75% fee) to drivers? I mean, if she's so corrupt, wouldn't that cut into her back door income?

    Ed Healy

    ReplyDelete
  20. Dear Mr. Molloy,

    I sympathize with your situation. I got my medallion from the list and I feel very, very lucky to have gotten it when I did 4 years ago. There is little doubt that the Pilot Plan has slowed down the list for the time being but blaming Hayashi for this is like biting the end of a stick that's beating you.

    Hayashi is only reason that the list exists at all.

    Both Newsom and MTA Board member Malcom Heinicke wanted to end the list and either sell all medallions at open auctions or permanently lease them out.

    It was only Hayashi's ability come up with a compromise that kept the list alive.

    I also think that your position on the list has got to be better than you think it is. About 30 medallions have gone to drivers on the list during the last two years - so you have to have improved at least 30 places and probably closer to 100.

    The person to talk to about this at the MTA is Mike Harris. I think the number is 701-4400.

    In addition, 25 more medallions will soon to go members on the list and there is pressure to put more cabs on the street after doing a PCN hearing.

    Barry Korengold also sponsored a motion at TAC to insure that, after the MTA gets its 60 sales, all future new medallions be given to drivers on the list.

    Finally, 50 Single Operator Permits, that can be operated 60 hours a week when the driver chooses, are about to be put out.(You can thank John Han for this.)

    A person on the list can drive these without losing his or her position - like the ramp taxis.

    Hayashi's idea on these is to offer them on the basis of A-card seniority. You might be eligible.

    Hang in there. As long as Hayshi is in power you have a chance.

    On the other hand, if Tariq Mehmood, John Lazar and Richie Weiner succeed in getting rid of her, the first thing they'll do is push for open auctions and the end of the list.

    Ed Healy

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  21. Healy,

    Whose idea was it to write the above opinion piece @ 1:46pm, yours or

    Hayashi's?

    Johnny Walker

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  22. Dear Mr Healy,
    Thank you for your note,info,sympathy and words of encouragement although I'm under no illusions of ever getting a medallion I think its a case of David vs Goliath at this stage, all because of pure greed. I wasn't blaming Christiane for anything I was just looking for a serious answer to a serious question being that shes the spokesperson for SFMTA. Anyway I'm gonna try and hang in there there's not much else I can do at this stage.

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  23. I feel empathy for Mick molloy and his situation, however all bets are pretty

    Much off as far as the waiting list is concerned.

    You see mr Malloy, the MTA treats the medallion as if it is their cash cow and

    The only thing holding them back is the drivers, not the medallion owners,

    Unless they PURCHASED these medallions from the city.

    The currant medallion owners, like Ed Healy for instance, have no standing,

    Since the medallions belong to the city and therefore, no rights to speak of

    Please do not let people like Healy lead you down the primrose path for at the

    End of it is a cliff.

    Ed Healy is for Ed Healy and nobody else, so if you don't believe me, ask Ed

    What his agenda is, lord knows I've tried for well over a month with ZERO

    Success thus far.

    Johnny Walker

    ReplyDelete

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