Photo by John Han.
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.
Korengold’s motion was to recommend to the Board that any further sales of medallions beyond the Medallion Sales Pilot Program only be transferred from a driver to another driver and no longer from SFMTA to buyer. This would apply to revoked medallions, returned medallions due to death, and new issues.
Currently, the SFMTA can sell up to 60 medallions directly to taxi drivers under the Pilot Program and receive all of the revenue from each sale, minus the 5% to the Driver’s Fund.
Revenue from these direct type sales was designed by the agency to generate emergency funding for the agency’s fiscal crisis of 2010. During 2010’s fiscal year, the SFMTA generated more than $10 million for itself through the sale of medallions, including those by SFMTA direct sales to buyers.
If the MTA were to adopt this TAC recommendation, it would mean that the SFMTA could no longer sell medallions directly to drivers and receive mostly all of its revenue beyond the limited 60 medallions allowed under the pilot program. This would largely be to prevent any possible conflict of interests that the SFMTA may issue new medallions in the future based on the need to generate new City revenue, rather than valid transportation needs.
The motion passed on an 8-6 vote. The ‘No’ votes were – John Lazaar, Dan Hinds, Carl Macmurdo, Tone Lee, Athan Rebelos, and John Han (myself).
Timothy Lapp was absent for the vote.
(My ‘no’ vote was not because I didn’t support the motion, but because I remained uncertain about specific details. I wasn’t decided yet whether the motion should apply to returned and revoked medallions. But as Korengold put it later, “don’t sacrifice the good for the perfect.”)
Council Liaison’s Report:
Acting Liaison Jarvis Murray of Taxi Services Staff, filling in for deputy director Christiane Hayashi, informed the council of a memo regarding “Taxi Citations and Stands”. This memo was issued by Sonali Bose, CFO/Director of Finance and Information Technology, SFMTA, and is dated May 26, 2011.
Photo by John Han.
Bose addresses the escalation in the number of citations issued to taxi drivers while they are loading or unloading passengers, especially along the Embarcadero in front of the Ferry Building.
Bose, in her memo, says that before the SFMTA took over taxi regulations in 2009, the Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT) and the SF Police Department (SFPD) put out training bulletins that allowed taxis to pick up and drop off in bus zones and blue handicapped zones as long as it didn’t pose a safety issue, and the driver was in immediate presence of the vehicle. Ever since SFMTA took over, these policies were no longer being followed by the Parking Control Officers (PCO’s), and many drivers have been getting cited for tickets of about $100.
According to Bose, SFMTA is expected to issue a “reading clip” to the PCO’s informing them that taxis may use bus stops and bike lanes to load and unload passengers. This would include allowing taxis to use segregated areas along Market St.
Bumper stickers would be placed on all taxis stating that taxis have a right to use the lane. Additionally, Taxi Services is expected to meet with the Port Commission, which regulates the areas in front of the Ferry Building, to discuss a taxi stand be installed in that location.
The memo acknowledges areas still not being addressed – red zones, unpaid metered parking spaces, yellow truck zones, crosswalks, or driveways.
Acting Liaison Jarvis Murray also said that next year’s A-Card renewal should go smoother than this year’s did. The year 2011 was the first year that drivers renewed their A-Cards under the SFMTA’s jurisdiction. Drivers under the SFMTA’s first year typically waited 30 minutes to several hours as opposed to the matter of minutes it used to take to renew before the MTA took over. Murray said that in the future, to expedite renewals, A-Cards renewals would be available through mail. And he reiterated what Christiane Hayashi has stated in the past that the deadlines to renew would be staggered to match a driver’s birth date rather than an industry-wide deadline in January.
Finally, Taxi Services Staff introduced three new investigators hired by staff to crack down on illegal limousines and taxis. One investigator named Charles, (didn’t get his last name) said he wanted lots of dialogue and input from the taxi industry on what are the best ways to crack down on them.
However, he also said that the investigators will be checking for badges and A-Cards from drivers lined up in hotel lines, even if the drivers are driving San Francisco taxicabs.