Monday, May 23, 2011

You Asked For It, You Got It! How the Medallion Sales Pilot Program has affected Yellow Cab. By John Han.

Yellow Cabs.  Photo by John Han.
According to Yellow Cab, the City's largest taxi fleet has had about 25 medallions switch to Affiliate as a result of the Medallion Sales Pilot Program.  That's with about 84 medallions sold so far, with more to come.  

That's okay if you happen to be one of the new medallion buyers.  In fact, it might be a version of the American dream.  It could also be pretty cool if you're one of the drivers hired on by those Affiliates. 

But if you're Yellow Cab, or if you're a gate and gas taxi driver there, that's starting to mean some uncertainty.  The landscape of the industry is clearly changing.  And the industry has to decide what to do.  Morning shift drivers at the company are now having to come in, for example, on Wednesday in order to work on Thursday.  I'm confident Yellow Cab's management could confirm this.  Why?

San Francisco Taxi Drivers Are At A Crossroads. Here's a message... Stand Up For Yourselves Or Eat It! By John Han.

Sonali Bose, chief financial officer for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTAS), has said that the City should, "move on", from the controversy over 5% credit card fees, electronic waybills, and rear seat payment terminals. 

She was quoted at the end of a Bay Citizen article published Saturday entitled, "Taxi's Credit Card Machine "Broken"?  Likely story", by Zoe Corneli.

It's a funny story.   Here's the quote, 

"Sonali Bose, the agency’s chief financial officer, wrote in a May 6 memo that, like other cities that mandate credit-card acceptance, San Francisco would have to “endure a firestorm of driver protest” and “move on.”

(Bay Citizen, "Taxi's Credit Card Machine "Broken"?  Likely story", by Zoe Corneli, May 21, 2011)  

Friday, May 20, 2011

SFMTA Changes "Peak Taxis" to "New Permits" As Topic For Upcoming Town Hall Meetings.

SFMTA has released this updated information regarding the upcoming town hall meetings in June.   Peak time taxis was formerly scheduled as a key topic for the meeting's discussions.  The new information changes the topic to "New Permits" which will presumably include discussions to add more full time medallions.  

About the Taxi Town Hall meetings 

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) periodically schedules “Taxi Town Hall” meetings in order to provide an open forum to discuss matters that affect the San Francisco taxi industry. 

These are informal meetings, in which members of the taxi industry and members of the public are invited to attend to express their ideas and opinions about issues that are important to you relating to taxis in San Francisco. 

Upcoming Dates/Topics for Town Hall MeetingDATE 
June 1st, 2011, 1 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 
Electronic Waybills and Proposals for New Permits to Improve Taxi Services 

June 6th, 2011, 1 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 
Electronic Waybills and Proposals for New Permits to Improve Taxi Services 

June 8th, 2011, 1 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 
SFMTA Summary of Information Obtained from Prior Town Hall Meetings 

Dean Clark Announces SF Mayoral Candidates Meet and Greet This Sunday, May 22nd.

Dean Clark is a San Francisco taxi driver.  I went to his last mayoral candidates meet and greet in the Tenderloin and it was pretty cool.  I got to talk to some prominent figures in SF's political scene.  Here's his info.

Taxi Drivers Show up to talk to the Mayoral Candidates for this Event!

2011 Candidate Meet and Greet

Meet the people who want to represent the people:
We have invited the:
Mayor Candidates, District Attorney Candidates, Sheriff Candidates

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Taxi Meter Increase Vastly Unpopular With Public Riders. By John Han.

MTA Board Director Malcolm Heinicke listens to taxi drivers push for a
meter increase at Tuesday's Board meeting May 17th.  At that meeting,
Heinicke said that although he supports a meter increase for drivers, it
must be coupled with a "service increase" for the public, to solve why
it is so hard to get cabs in SF.  (Photo by John Han)
Have you looked at SF Gate lately?  Read any one of its articles or editorials about last Tuesday's vote by the MTA to approve a meter increase.  If reader comments reflect anything, the public is pissed!

Here's excerpts of comments from readers responding to "San Francisco Officials Approve Taxi Fare Increase", by the Associated Press and published on SF Gate May 17th.

  • "No more tips in the world's most retrograde city."

  • "less tip -- problem solved! we are not buying the scam, you dumbazz lefties!!!!!!!!!!!"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

MTA Board Approves A Meter Increase, And Delays July 1st Deadline For Electronic Waybills. By John Han

Taxi drivers pushed for a meter increase during public comment that would've included a raise in the
flag drop at Tuesday's MTA Board meeting.

The MTA Board of Directors approved a meter increase Tuesday at its regular May 17th meeting, and the drivers raise will go into effect after June 21st.

The vote passed unanimously with six members present.  The Board approved a 10 cent mileage increase from 45 cents to 55 cents for every one-fifth of a mile, and a 10 cent increase from 45 cents per minute to 55 cents per minute wait time.  There was no increase in the flag drop.

From The SFMTA, Notice of June's Town Hall Meetings.


May 18, 2011
Contact: Paul Rose
(415) 601-1637


SFMTA Announces Second Round of Taxi Town Hall Meetings
Agency to discuss electronic waybills at meetings in early June

San Francisco—The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all surface transportation in the City, including the Municipal Railway (Muni) and the regulation of taxis, today announced that it will host a series of town hall meetings on two topics:

1. Using electronic waybills for San Francisco taxis: whether the SFMTA should require electronic reporting based on GPS data instead of the paper trip records currently used by taxi drivers.

2. Peak time taxi permits: whether a new type of permit should be issued for part-time operation of vehicles to increase service during “peak” periods of high demand.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Request For Transparency On The City’s Electronic Taxicab Waybill Implement. By John Han.

Photo by John Han.
(This is a shortened version of the previous posted entitled, "Waybills - How About A Responsible Government To Administer Them?")  

A traditional taxicab waybill is a paper trip sheet on which drivers are required to log fare amounts, tips, locations, and times of pick ups and drop offs, etc.

Up until around the late 70’s, when taxi drivers were employees, cab companies relied upon properly filled out waybills mainly to base income tax deductions and paycheck amounts.  Today, “independent contractor” taxi drivers are still required by local governments to complete waybills for other purposes, though those purposes are more anecdotal and not necessarily stated.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Waybills – How About A Responsible Government To Administer Them? By John Han.

Photo by John Han.
Although I cannot find it anywhere in the 2010 minutes of Taxi Advisory Council (TAC) meetings, last year, I, at a TAC meeting, requested from Taxi Services Division, any City document stating officially, what the purpose is for requiring drivers to fill out waybills. 

Because I’ve asked numerous people on numerous occasions over the years, if they could state the actual purpose for waybills, because I myself had no idea what waybills were for. Some would say, “for your taxes”, and others said, “so the cops can’t bust you for something you didn’t do”, and so on. 

Perhaps an obvious reason for waybills is for medallion applicants needing to prove they’ve been meeting their driving requirement.  That makes sense.  But the taxi rules are clear that all drivers, not just medallion applicants, must fill out waybills, even though the City doesn't clearly state why.    

So as a “Driver Representative” on the TAC, and in light of the controversy over the advent of electronic waybills and their privacy issues, last year I requested the City’s written information that would better explain waybills.

In response, weeks later at the next TAC meeting, Taxi Services Division gave to me a document from Oshawa, Canada, and Oshawa Canada’s detailing of waybills.


Here’s an excerpt…

Monday, May 9, 2011

Recap of Monday’s Taxi Advisory Council Meeting, May 9, 2011. By John Han.

Photo by John Han.
At Monday’s Taxi Advisory Council (TAC) meeting there was some discussion but no action regarding recommendations to be put into the interim report for the Medallion Sales Pilot Program.  Further discussions with actions for recommendations will be held in upcoming TAC meetings. 

Another 'special' TAC meeting has been scheduled for Monday, May 16, 2011 to discuss meter increase and radio dispatch surcharges.  That meeting will be held immediately following the town hall meeting scheduled that day with SFMTA’s staff summary of public comments regarding a meter increase, credit card fees, and rear seat payment terminals. 

Council Liaison’s Report:

During the Council Liaison’s Report, Deputy Director Christiane Hayashi announced new town hall meetings scheduled for:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Discussions For Electronic Waybills Expected After MTA's May 17th Board Meeting. By John Han.

The following message was sent to me by Green Cab's Mark Gruberg regarding the SFMTA's removal of electronic waybills from discussion for the upcoming May 10th, May 11th, and May 16th town hall meetings.  In an email dated May 7th, 2011, Gruberg wrote to me...

I e-mailed Christiane Hayashi to ask why electronic waybills had been removed from the agenda of the upcoming Town Hall meetings.  She replied that a meter increase and credit card fees would be taken up at the MTA's May 17 Board meeting, but a discussion of electronic waybills had been postponed to a later time.  

Therefore, according to Deputy Director of SFMTA Taxi Services Division Christiane Hayashi, public discussions in the upcoming town hall meetings are in preparation for the MTA Board's May 17th meeting on meter increase and credit card fees.   Discussions for electronic waybills are expected to resume after the Board's May 17th meeting, but no date has been announced yet.  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Electronic Waybills No Longer Open For Discussions At Town Hall Meetings, According To SFMTA.

Electronic waybills have been taken off the table for discussion at any of the town hall meetings that the SFMTA has scheduled for next week, although it had previously been on the agenda.   In addition to 5% credit card fees and rear seat "Taxi Tvs", electronic tracking is one of the key items being protested by drivers because of privacy concerns, and concerns over inaccurate logging of income, and long term health risks.  Here's the updated version of the SFMTA's announcement regarding town hall meetings. 


Taxi Driver Pleas For Help, Gets Double Violations Cited While Protesting. By John Han.

Taxis streaming down McAllister St. and honking horns around City Hall
in an organized demonstration to protest new MTA policies.   Photo
by John Han.
A San Francisco taxi driver was issued a ticket citing two violations during last Tuesday’s immense taxi demonstration at City Hall, mainly to protest 5% credit card fees.

Taxi Driver Syed Rahman of Pittsburgh, said he drove all the way from the Pittsburgh / Antioch area where he lives to take part in the protest on his day off.  What makes Rahman different from the rest of the hundreds of taxi drivers that day is that he drove in his own Ford Explorer SUV to the protest, circling City Hall in his own car, and honking with the rest of the taxi drivers. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Taxi Drivers' Protest Draws Huge Turn Out At City Hall. (Photos) By John Han.

A news photographer stands beside a stream of taxicabs that are circling City Hall to
protest the City's new policy charging cab drivers 5% credit card fees and electronic waybills. 
(Tuesday, May 3, 2011.  Photos by John Han.) 
Below are some news links and then some photos of Tuesday's noisy protest at City Hall, mainly against the City's new 5% credit card fees and electronic waybills against drivers.  Cab drivers circled their taxis around City Hall honking their horns in protest of the fees.  Hundreds filled the MTA Board chamber and then two overflow rooms, for the Board of Directors' regular 1pm meeting.   The often divided taxi workforce this time came together and unanimously expressed common displeasure, even threatening to strike if the MTA doesn't reconsider it's new policies on fees.  I was interviewed by Barbara Taylor of KCBS for a sound byte outside.  Brad Newsham got on the 6:00 news at KTVU.   John Lazar is on the ABC story with reporter Carolyn Tylor.  

Driver and medallion holder Mychael Monroe and others got on a couple of TV clips.  Here's links to the news reports, and hope you enjoy my photos.  

Note:  Drivers are encouraged to attend upcoming town hall meetings to discuss credit card fees, electronic waybills, and rear seat Tv terminals, and a May 17th MTA Board meeting to discuss a meter increase.   CLICK HERE TO View Photos

The SFMTA's Memorandum On A Meter Rate Increase.

Photo by John Han.
The MTA Board of Directors has scheduled a public meeting on May 17th to discuss a taxi meter rate increase.The following is a link to a memorandum from Sonali Bose, CFO / Director of Finance and Information Technology, to the SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors (MTA) regarding information for a meter rate increase.  

CLICK HERE to view the SFMTA's memorandum on a meter rate increase. 

The MTA Board of Directors holds regular meetings every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month, unless otherwise noted, at 1 pm, at City Hall, Room 400.  Schedule of dates and agendas for meetings can be viewed here.