Tuesday, July 17, 2012

SF Limo Driver Hustling Sreet Fares Caught On Video!

In this video, a limousine driver is seen soliciting fares off of the street in San Francisco.  

This is illegal in California.  The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency website regarding "other motor vehicles for hire" says this...

"Beware of Illegal limousines

Limousine companies make reservations with their customers.  They are not allowed to pick people up on the street.  And some limousines are not even licensed by the City or the State of California; they just pick people up wherever they can.
Limousine rides are legally required to be prearranged with the customer, usually by phone or in writing.

Look for a charter-party carrier (TCP) permit number on the front and rear bumpers of the vehicle.

Ask for driver’s business card and receipt before departing.

Limousine drivers are forbidden from soliciting customers on the street; they may only pick up customers with reservations".  (SFMTA website)

This video was taken on a cell phone by Peter Witt, a SF taxi driver for 24 years.  It clearly shows the driver hustling for $5 per person. 

According to Witt, the video was shot on July 6th, at Fisherman Wharf's North Point and Hyde St. intersection.  The line of people are the overflow from the cable car turnaround at Beach and Hyde St.

The limo's TCP and vehicle license plate numbers are on the video. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Commentary On Recent Draft Recommendations For San Francisco Taxi Medallion Reform. By Brad Newsham.

(Brad Newsham is a medallion holder, and has been driving taxi for 27 years.)

WITH the deadline for ballot proposals just four days away, no member of the Board of Supervisors has agreed to sponsor the Stop the MTA Committee’s proposal: 1) Medallions for drivers only; 2) Allrevenue from the cab industry will be reinvested in the cab industry).

Two supervisors have not yet given Final Answers, so the possibility of a late hero emerging still does exist, but even the most optimistic committee member now feels that the ballot option is at best a longshot.

All supervisors have been sympathetic (how can one not sympathize with 5,000 cab drivers being forced to fund paychecks and benefits for 5,000 other MTA workers?) but sympathy does not get us on the ballot.

The supervisor showing perhaps the most engagement on the issue is Scott Wiener, the Board’s leading proponent of improved cab service. 

In the past, every politician who has pushed for service improvements has wound up issuing a flood of new medallions, declaring victory (even though floods of new medallions have never solved the industry’s problems), and then leaving to run for higher office.

Wiener promises that he is not that kind of politician. He says he is committed to seeing world-class cab service in our world-class City (so is the Stop the MTA committee!) and will not rest until he sees it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

State Senate Committee Votes Down Unrestricted Audio Recording In Taxicabs, Cites Privacy As Issue. (Full Meeting on Video). By John Han.

Part 1 of 7
(Note:  At the end of this article are the remaining 6 video segments of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on SB 1534, held May 8, 2012, involving audio recording in taxicabs.  This is published here in the interest of public discourse and transparency.  Total viewing time is 92 minutes.)

The California Senate Transportation and Housing Committee said Tuesday that recording conversations inside of a taxicab violates constitutional rights to privacy.  

At its Tuesday, May 8, 2012 meeting, the Senate Committee voted 7-1 in favor of a statewide amendment that, if ultimately passed, would prohibit audio recording inside of taxicabs. 

The bill SB 1534, authored by Republican Senator Tom Harman, would have allowed cab companies and local governments such as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), to keep video and audio recordings in perpetuity, as to what happens in and around taxicabs, including conversations.  

Originally, Harman's bill would not have restricted cab companies or local governments from viewing the recordings anytime, and at will.  

But instead, the Senate Committee passed an amended version of SB 1534, that would prohibit audio recording inside of a taxicab, and calls for setting limits on how long cab companies and local governments could keep taxicab video records on file.  

The senators cited privacy as a major concern.  

The most vocal being Senator Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, who sparred with San Francisco's DeSoto Cab president Hansu Kim over whether passengers would be forced to sacrifice privacy for taxis, if the cab company president got his way. 

"As a member of the public, if I want to get a cab to get from Point A to Point B, I have to surrender my Constitutional right to privacy in California under [our] Constitution," the senator said. 

To which Kim replied, "You do not, you do not have to surrender your constitutional right."

SFMTA's Draft Recommendations For Medallion Reform, And Its Strategic Plans For The Next Two Years, 2012.

Below is a copy of the SFMTA's draft recommendations for medallion reform, and draft strategic plan actions for Taxi Services 2012-2014, as items for the Taxi Advisory Council meeting May 14, 2012.  The recommendations for medallion reform is a discussion and action item.  The strategic plan for Taxi Services is under the Council Liaison's Report and is discussion only.  These two supporting documents are originally published on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency website.  Click here to go to the SFMTA's page. 

(From the SFMTA)


(a) Maintain the core principal of Prop K that San Francisco taxi medallions should go to working drivers as currently defined (800 hours or 156 four-hour shift per year for four out of the past five years). 
(b) Continue to modify or eliminate the driving requirement for medical conditions that prevent the medallion holder from driving, and then require the medallion holder to transfer the medallion if after three years the same medical condition prevents them from driving. 

(a) DO NOT “cut off” any number of qualified applicants from the medallion waiting list. 

(b) Immediately reduce the waiting list through administrative measures only (by 
removing people without driver permits, people who don’t respond to mail, existing medallion holders, etc.) 
(c) When the waiting list runs out, distribute medallions to drivers by seniority (either by purchase, or ‘earned’ medallions, see Sections III and VII below). 
(d) Dedicate all 350 remaining Pre-K medallions to the waiting list as they are returned to the SFMTA. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Money Makes Things Happen. And It Takes Money To Organize. So If You've Got It, Give It. By Brad Newsham.

File photo by John Han.
Yipes! The deadline for ballot measures is not mid-June – it’s May 22!

By then, the Stop the MTA committee needs to find one supervisor to submit our two-part bill:

1) Medallions to drivers only; and 2) All money generated in the cab industry stays in the cab industry.

We’ve held meetings with three supervisors (all sympathetic) but we haven’t found a hero yet. Next week: three more. We need a miracle…

And miracles do happen. Get this: Barry Korengold, president of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association, led a delegation to the capitol in Sacramento on Tues, May 8, and dealt the MTA its first defeat since the MTA stole the cab industry.

The story:

In 2010, the MTA approved the installation of taxicab cameras that continuously record every motion made and word spoken by all passengers with continual audio-video recorders.

When Korengold, a former television cameraman, saw the new cameras, he said, “Illegal! Before you record someone’s conversation, you need their permission.”

The American Civil Liberties Union weighed in: Illegal! The MTA threw up its hands: Nothing we can do. And the cameras kept rolling, recording every motion, and every word uttered by passengers and drivers, all of it accessible at whim by cab company managers.

SFMTA To Hold "All Taxi" Board Meeting June 5, 2012. Message From Christiane Hayashi, Deputy Director of SFMTA Taxi Services.

The following message was addressed to the Taxi Advisory Council and Taxi Services Staff on May 9, 2012. 

Hello all,

In anticipation of the “all-taxi” SFMTA Board meeting scheduled for June 5, there will be a Taxi Advisory Council meeting on May 14, to present and discuss the June 5 agenda and the medallion reform proposal that will be included on that agenda. 

There will be a follow-up Town Hall meeting on the same subject on May 22 at 1:30 and again at 4:30 pm in the 2nd floor Atrium conference room of the One South Van Ness building. 

We are working on posting the supporting materials for the meeting as soon as we can this week.

Thank you.

Christiane Hayashi
Deputy Director of Taxis
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
1 South Van Ness, San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 701-5235

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Brad Newsham's Call For Taxi Workers To Unite, Part 1. (Online Version Of His Newsletter.)

File Photo by John Han.
(Opinions expressed on this site reflect the views of their authors, and don't necessarily reflect the views of the website's publisher.)

By Brad Newsham.


IMAGINE the government of North Korea or South Africa or Iraq or Arizona passing a law dividing the populace into Haves and Havenots. They tell the Haves, “You get our country’s riches.” And the Havenots? “You get zero – plus each of you has to pay $4,000/year to fund our gifts to the Haves.” 

Surely the San Francisco Board of Supervisors would immediately pass a resolution condemning such lunacy!

But here’s a dirty secret: San Francisco’s MTA has drawn a line down the middle of its 10,000 workers. The Haves (bus drivers, parking and traffic police, office staff, mana-gers – 5,000 workers total) receive City paychecks; sick, vacation, and overtime pay; health care; and retirement.  

The MTA’s other workers, the city’s 5,000 cab drivers?  Nothing.

Brad Newsham's Call For Taxi Workers To Unite, Part 2. (Online Version Of HIs Newsletter).

File Photo by John Han.
(Opinions expressed on this site reflect the views of their authors, and don't necessarily reflect the views of the website's publisher.)

By Brad Newsham


The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) is finalizing its dream plan to take roughly $20 million each year from San Francisco’s cab drivers to fund paychecks and full benefits for Muni drivers, parking police, and MTA management.

The public is unaware. The cab industry (no paychecks, zero benefits) is in a state of leaderless shock.

In 1978, San Francisco voters passed a law saying that taxicab permits (medallions) would go to working drivers only. Finally, cab companies had to share the industry’s profits with the workers generating those profits.  Drivers loved the law – some were able to make a down payment on a house or send a kid to college.

Cab companies hated the law – during the next 30 years they tried to change it eight times, but each time the city’s voters said, “No, we like our cab drivers. We’re keeping the law.”

Then in 2007, a group of City Hall insiders and cab company officials proposed a new law placing the cab industry under MTA control – to allow the agency’s professional managers to fix several cab industry problems, they said.  Don’t worry, Mayor Newsom told us (in writing), taxicab permits will still go only to working cab drivers.  

At a public meeting, Newsom’s aide promised, “The cab industry will not become a cash cow.”

Thursday, May 3, 2012

KTVU Reports, "High-tech Car Service At Odds With SF Cab Companies, Regulators."

Uber car service app
A new car service business called Uber is aiming to compete with SF cab companies by providing a fashionable way to get around the city, but questions about its legality have a powerful state agency investigating the glossy startup.
Uber -- which means "about" or "above" in German – is a technology startup that connects customers to professional town car and limo drivers via a smartphone app, SMS text messages and the internet.         
Eric Flynn is a San Francisco native who works as an advertising copywriter. He is just the kind of person the upstart company Uber aims its marketing towards.
"I was exposed to it through an industry party, an advertising party, said Flynn. Uber was one of the sponsors."
Uber claims on its website that it wants to make on-demand car service accessible to anyone at a lower than usual cost and advertises itself as "your on-demand private driver."
CLICK HERE to go to KTVU's full story, "High-tech Car Service At Odds With SF Cab Companies, Regulators."
SPECIAL REPORT: Tech-minded car service looks to muscle business from SF cab companies gallery

Friday, April 20, 2012

Saam Aryan Accuses SFMTA Of Violating State Laws.

(Note from the blog's administrator - this article is published in the interest of free speech.  The following views are those of its author, and not necessarily the views of the blog's publisher.)

By Saam Aryan. 

Proposition 26, approved by voters on 11/2/2010, requires local taxes to be approved by voters.  Before, local governments would put a misleading label “fees” to bypass that.  That loophole then got closed.  

Now a charge is Tax, if the charge specifically does not benefit those who pay the charge.

Millions that SFMTA got from us is equivalent to getting around 5 Billion dollars from those in San Francisco.  California Constitution Article XIII-C Section 2 says you need 2/3 of the voters to do that.

They get away with this, and other laws that they broke,  because nobody presses charges.  I brought that to the Supervisors that reelected Mr. Malcolm Heinicke.  They do not give a damn.  They just had our time wasted because they had already made their mind before they got into the Room 263, today 4/19/12.  If our comments were noteworthy to Supervisors, then they would consider its truthfulness and relevancy before approving Mr. Malcolm Heinicke unanimously. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

MTA Board To Hold Lengthy Taxi Discussions In Either Mid May Or June. By John Han.

Director of SFMTA Ed Reiskin at Tuesday's
April 17, 2012 MTA Board meeting.
Image from SFGovTV
Ed Reiskin, Director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), said Tuesday that his agency would hold public discussions for "a host of taxi-related matters", either in mid May or early June.

At Tuesday's regular Board meeting, April 17, 2012, Reiskin said a discussion on credit card fees, electronic waybills, back seat monitors, police code and legislative changes, and medallion sales would be on the agenda for the meeting scheduled May 15th.   

He added that a study for public convenience and necessity, that includes recommending whether to add more cabs in the City, involves an environmental impact study and would be ready this fall.  

But during the meeting's public comment Reiskin corrected himself, saying that the taxi issues may not be heard until the first week of June instead.

"Whenever it is, we will make sure to do outreach to all of the stakeholders", Reiskin said.  "I think our intent is to try to keep the agenda as clear as possible of non-taxi items, so that we can focus on the many and challenging taxi issues that we're going to be facing." 

SFMTA Board Chairman Tom Nolan added, that he would like to have a specific time set in the meeting to begin the discussions, so that people would know what time the discussion start, and not have to first sit through hours of non-taxi items.  

If those were to be the case, that could come as good news to long-time taxi advocate Barry Taranto.  

During public comment, Taranto said, "I think it's important to make sure you schedule enough town hall meetings, so enough of it is vetted out by the industry and the stakeholders before it comes before the MTA.  We could have people coming here and screaming we never got a chance to look at this".  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Malcolm Heinicke's Confirmation Hearing Scheduled Thursday, April 19, 2012. By John Han.

For those who haven't heard yet, Malcolm Heinicke is being re-appointed to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors.

The appointment is made by Mayor Ed Lee, but the Board of Supervisors must confirm his re-appointment.  His confirmation hearing is scheduled for Thursday, April 19, 2012, at the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee, 1:30pm, Room 263.   

The committee members are Supervisors Jane Kim, Mark Farrell, and David Campos.

It is Item #4 on the Regular Calendar. 

CLICK HERE for more information. 

Whether Heinicke's re-appointment is a good or bad thing, I care not to say, as it's not the point of this essay.  I'd rather just try to quickly highlight some of Heinicke's more notable influences on the taxi industry, starting with when the SFMTA took over regulations of taxis in 2009.  

As many already know, Heinicke was appointed by former mayor Gavin Newsom to the SFMTA Board in 2008, and previously held a seat on the now defunct Taxi Commission.  

Here's a description from the SFMTA's website

"As a Taxicab Commissioner, Mr. Heinicke focused on neighborhood and peak time service issues, and he is focusing on these same issues as a member of the SFMTA Board."

But despite Heinicke's commitment to those noteworthy causes, he grew to near infamy amongst many people in San Francisco's taxi industry for something else.

After the SFMTA gained regulatory control over the taxi industry in 2009,  Heinicke proposed to turn the City's taxi medallions into what was, and still is called a "cash cow" for the City, but not very cash cow for the taxi industry, or its workers.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Are You Paying Any Attention To The Trend Affecting The Taxi Industry? By Saam Aryan.

(Note from the blog's administrator - this article has been submitted to Taxi TownSF and has been published in the interest of free speech.  The following views are those of its author, and not necessarily the views of the blog's publisher.)

It reminds me of the state of the mind of those living in thriving and prosperous towns; now Ghost Towns.  Obviously many think that the overhead imposed by SFMTA is good for us because some are benefiting presently.  Get your own answer so you can convince yourself.  Ask your taxi passengers how often they use UBER CAB.  Keep a record of the answers and compare it every few months.  Presently, UBER town cars pickup their customers in around 8 minutes.  Pretty soon they will have the ability to do it in around 5 minute.  


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Recap of Taxi Advisory Council Meeting, Monday, March 26, 2012. By John Han.

At its Monday, March 26, 2012 meeting, the Taxi Advisory Council (TAC) voted to approve a final version of the Medallion Sales Pilot Program Report to be submitted to the MTA Board of Directors.   

The vote was 13-1, the sole 'no' vote being from Bill Mounsey.  Included later in this article is a copy of the Medallion Sales Pilot Program report in its entirety.  

Council Liaison's Report

During the Council Liaison's report, Eric Richholt, the SFMTA's taxi enforcer, issued statistics on 2012 enforcement so far.  They are...

18 - Bandit cab drivers cited for operating without a permit.

2 - Drivers were cited twice – Zamzami and Hzami
3 - Town car drivers
7 - Illegal drivers who were San Francisco residents
11- Illegal drivers who were out-of-town residents

65 - Limousine drivers cited for parking in white zones
14 - A-card holders cited by SFPD for operating a town car like a taxi
2 -   Medallion holders cited for failure to remove color scheme indicia
1 -   Medallion holder cited for providing false statements on 2010 and 2011 Annual Sworn                  Statements
4 -   Color schemes cited for not having anyone present during business hours
1 -   Color scheme cited for improper use of spare vehicles, failure to maintain current lease                agreement, and failure to maintain driver waybills
3 -   Medallion holder investigations for lack of compliance with Full Time Driving Requirement
3 -   Broker investigations at three color schemes for managing permits outside the regulated lease        arrangements.