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.

1)  Companies must have the capacity to produce electronic waybills.  (However, at the previous TAC meeting held July 11th, the TAC voted nearly unanimously to recommend to the Board to remove the electronic waybill requirement from the credit card fee waiver.)  

2)  The second requirement is that cab companies must install rear seat Passenger Information Monitors (PIMs), sometimes referred to as "Taxi TVs", that essentially would allow passengers to pay fares with credit and debit cards from the back seat, display looping advertisements, display suggested tip amounts, and display public information announcements.  

Companies meeting the requirements that qualify for the waiver, are then authorized to allow credit card processing fees to be passed on to their drivers at a rate of up to 5%, without being in violation of the Transportation Code.  Part of the 5% rate pays the cost to purchase, install, and administer the rear seat PIMs.

The waiver was authorized last year as a pilot program, "until such time as it can be reviewed by the Taxi Advisory Council"  (Memorandum, Processing Non-Cash Payments In Taxis, October 15, 2010.) 

The TAC passed the motion to recommend to end the pilot program.  

Board of Supervisors To Vote On Similar Resolution, Tuesday, July 26, 2011.  

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on a similar resolution at its regular full Board meeting on Tuesday.  

The resolution was introduced by Supervisor David Campos.  It's key language reads, "Resolution urging the Municipal Transportation Agency to reconsider and abandon the decision to shift the burden of credit card merchant charges to the city cab drivers."  CLICK HERE to read the full resolution.  

The United Taxi Workers (UTW) is urging cab drivers to contact the Board of Supervisors' offices and urge them to pass the non-binding resolution.  Here is a text of the UTW flyer...


So far, the MTA has refused to change its policy on credit card fees. Drivers continue to pay 5%, while companies pay nothing and stand to profit from back-seat-terminal advertising revenues. (And maybe from a cut of the 5% drivers are being forced to pay.)

We need to continue to protest these fees. But more than that, we need political support to get the MTA to take these charges off drivers’ backs. To gain that support, United Taxicab Workers asked for and got a Resolution from the San Francisco Labor Council opposing the MTA’s credit fee policy.

Now, at UTW’s urging, Supervisor David Campos has introduced a similar Resolution at the Board of Supervisors. It’s key language reads:

RESOLVED, That the San Francisco Board of Supervisors urges the MTA and the MTA Commission to reconsider its policy to pass credit card fees to city cab drivers

The Board of Supervisors will vote on this Resolution on Tuesday, July 26. If it passes and is signed by the Mayor, it won’t force the MTA to change its policy, but it will send a strong message that the city’s top elected officials are on the drivers’ side

Here’s what you can do:

Contact the members of the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee and urge them to support the Resolution.

The e-mail address for all the Supervisors is:

To contact the Mayor:
Phone: 554-7111 or 554-6141

Individual Supervisors can be contacted as follows:
Supervisor Phone E-mail

John Avalos 554-6975 (Resolution co-sponsor)
David Campos 554-5144 (Resolution sponsor)
David Chiu 554-7450 (Board President)
Carmen Chu 554-7460
Malia Cohen 554-7670
Sean Elsbernd 554-6516
Mark E. Farrell 554-7752
Jane Kim 554-7970
Eric L. Mar 554-7410
Ross Mirkarimi 554-7630
Scott Weiner 554-6968

You can also speak at the Board meeting during public comment. The meeting is Tuesday, July 26, at 2p.m. in City Hall, Room 250. (They usually take public comment around 3:30 or 4 p.m.)

We are NOT asking drivers to protest outside City Hall. That can wait until this comes back to the MTA. What’s MOST IMPORTANT is to contact the Board and the Mayor and tell them that it’s unfair to drivers and bad for the public to stick drivers with these charges.

United We’ll Win!

United Taxicab Workers * 2940 16th St. #314 * SF 94103 * 864-8294 * Labor Donated

1 comment:

  1. There is a huge conflict of interest at the MTA when it comes to regulating the cab industry. We need to keep the fight in place.

    How many San Franciscans know that MTA started selling taxi permits at 250,000.00? The permits have always been free, given to drivers based on seniority. Would an average San Franciscan like or appreciate this if he or she knew? Nope. I have talked to hundreds of my passengers and all of them hated it.

    MTA should stop accepting money under the table.


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