Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Golden Gate Bridge Set To Lay Off It's Toll Takers This Year, And Go With Automated, Cashless System.

Photo by John Han.
Human taxi drivers being replaced by automatically driven cars mays be a ways off still.  But technology moves so fast these days, things could come quicker than we anticipate.  So don't rule anything out.   

As for today, the Golden Gate Bridge District is expected to lay off ALL of its human toll takers as early as December of this year, and go with an automated, cashless system. 

CLICK HERE to read about it. 

By the way, Google is said to be releasing internet eyeglasses this year called "Head Up Display" (HUD).  Glasses what can feed you information like internet, photos, videos, etc., while you view the real world, without carrying a separate i-pad of smart phone.  Just shows how fast technology is moving. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Taxi Drivers Could Become Extinct One Day, And Replaced By Robot Cars. So Why Bother Buying Medallions Today For $250,000? Tomorrow, They Could Be Worth Nothing. Watch The Videos Below, And You'll See! By John Han.

Google Car: It Drives Itself - ABC News
Click on video.

(For entertainment purposes only.  But read it anyway.)

They're coming!   Google's first robotic, self-driving cars have already been, and are being tested on roads right here in San Francisco's Bay Area.  

And they're testing successfully, I might add.  

I'm labeling this essay uniquely as "for entertainment purposes only" because it's way too early to speculate what self-driving cars could mean in ten or twenty years, or whenever, for San Francisco's taxi industry, and for taxi industries around the world.  

But consider what this following video taken from YouTube suggests about the idea of driverless TAXIS and the future...  (Read an article about it HERE.  Or view the video below.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012


(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.)
(By Saam Aryan)

Taxi drivers are self-employed independent contractors. They do not have medical, vacation, sick leave, retirement plan, etc. Medallion waiting list was created for those that choose to have a career as taxi drivers. The extra income generated by getting a taxicab medallion would help them to pay their bills at old age; when they are not able to push themselves and work as much. This was the implied contract of the San Francisco Government.

So far, under SFMTA, 184 Taxicab Medallions has been sold with more under way. In Prop K restructuring, SFMTA agreed that for every sold medallions, they would issue one to the top of the Waiting List. If what SFMTA did was not sale than nothing has ever been sold. These medallions did not go to the top of the waiting list. Let us examine the financial impact:

Because senior drivers, now, under SFMTA, are selling their Medallions

From SFMTA, Soccer Match At AT&T Park.

When: March 17, 2012
Where: AT&T Park
What: World class soccer doubleheader
1st Match: @ 2pm, San Jose Earthquakes vs.
Houston Dynamo
2nd Match: @ 4:30pm, Mexico vs. Senegal

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
San Francisco Municipal Railway | Department of Parking & Traffic | Division of Taxis & Accessible Services
One S. Van Ness Avenue, Seventh Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103 | Tel: 415.701.4400 | Fax: 415.701.5437 |

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New York May Ditch Taxi TVs Because They're Bothersome, And Replace Them With 'SQUARE', From San Francisco. By John Han,.

New York Taxi TV Screen
The loud, blaring Taxi TVs in New York may be so annoying to its riders, that the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is now expected to look at an alternative.

According to a New York Times article this week, the San Francisco card processing service known as “Square”, which has gained favor amongst cab drivers in San Francisco for reasonable processing rates, (and no noise), is expected to formally present its technology to the New York TLC next month.

As a pilot program, Square is proposing to replace fifty of New York's often criticized "Taxi TVs" with “similarly shaped iPads or other tablets” in the rear seats of cabs, and without the noise, according to the New York Times.  

Verfione Media and Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT), two companies controlling the Taxi TV market, and who have contracts with major networks like NBC and ABC to target the industry's vast and captive audiences nationwide, have blocked Square at least once before from fraying into the New York territory.    

But David Yassky, chairman of the TLC, told the New York Times, "Our job isn't to look out for the welfare of a particular company".   In that article, he later added, "My job is to get the best product and technology available to taxis and passengers."  The New York Times full story can be read HERE

If approved, Square could enable passengers to swipe their cards from the back seat at any point in the cab ride, note their location, interact in social networking, and while some people (including this author) could think it a little silly, even play computer games.  

But more importantly to cab drivers, Square could challenge the dominant, taxi industry practice of 5% that companies like Verifone, CMT, and others are currently charging taxi drivers all over the country for credit card fees.  Square could bring the fees down to  2.75% across the board, a rate generally considered more normal for day to day businesses.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

SFMTA Recommendations For Medallion Reform Could Have Serious Impacts. Important Information For The Taxi Industry. By John Han.

The Taxi Services staff of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has issued a draft of proposals regarding medallion reform. These drafts were presented for public discussion at town hall meetings held February 14, 2012 at One South Van Ness Ave, Second Floor Atrium.

SFMTA's draft proposals include...

  • Converting thirty three percent, or one-third, of the taxi fleet into “direct lease permits”. This means that over time, the SFMTA would recover roughly 500 medallions through “death”, “revocation”, and “new issue”, thus acting as the holder to these medallions, eying roughly $12 million in annual revenue, through the direct leasing system to cab companies. This may be regarded as the “corporate medallion”, or perhaps could also be referred to as a “municipal medallion”. These medallions would operate as gates and gas only.
  • Acknowledging medallions that have already been sold (about 210) shall remain salable. The current fixed rate being $250,000 for purchasing a medallion.
  • Retaining the core principles of Prop K by continuing to issue non-purchased medallions to the waiting list until the list is exhausted. And then, issue medallions by A-Card seniority.
  • Clean up the waiting list and cut it off around 1100.
  • Prohibit Affiliate leases. This means that once the life of an Affiliate lease vehicle has expired, the medallion holder would have to operate the new replacement vehicle through a company's management as a gate and gas taxi. If successful, there would ultimately be no more Affiliate taxicabs.
  • Not allowing Pre K medallion owners to sell, and not allowing existing corporate medallions to be  sold to new buyers either. These medallions would be returned to the City over time, and in turn, issued to the waiting list presumably as non-purchased medallions.
  • All newly issued medallions would either be leased directly or sold by the SFMTA.

The Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) Board of Directors is expected to consider these proposals and more, at its March 6th, 2012 regular meeting at City Hall, Room 400 at 1pm. Public comment will be available. The proposals above are drafts and therefore, it is presumed they are subject to possible changes.

Those who cannot attend but wish to express opinions may email the Board of Directors at,

Below is a text of the draft proposals.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Recommendations For Medallion Reform (Conclusion of the votes). By John Han.

The following pertains to San Francisco taxi medallion reform, and what kinds of policies the Taxi Advisory Council (TAC) thinks the MTA should adopt going forward with permanent medallion sales.

On February 13th, 2012, the TAC voted on the items below, which concludes its final recommendations held over two consecutive meetings.

The members present were Ruach Graffis, Dan Hinds, Tara Housman, Richard Hybels, David Khan, Barry Korengold, Timothy Lapp, John Lazar, Tone Lee, John Han, Carl Macmurdo, William Mounsey, Athan Rebelos, and Chris Sweis.

William Minikel was absent as he no longer serves on the council, and his seat remains vacant.

Here are the votes of the council.

Category 3: Financial

1.2  [Financial] No more outright medallions sales by SFMTA

Thursday, February 9, 2012

MTA's Plans For Future Improvements To Taxi Service, (Recapping Monday's Supervisors' Committee Meeting.) By John Han.

File photo by John Han
Last Monday, February 6, 2012,  the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) reported to the Land Use and Economic Development Committee, its plans to improve taxi services in the City.

It is the first of what is expected to be quarterly reports from the transportations agency regarding taxi service in the City.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, during the meeting, said two things necessary to improve taxi service are increasing the number of available cabs and improving dispatch service.

And while the SFMTA seems to agree on those needs for improvements, it did not ignore the complexities of the taxi industry.

The taxi industry in San Francisco and anywhere is extremely complex,” said SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin. “There a lot of different viewpoints, often divergent.”

Nonetheless, the SFMTA has a general plan to address both increasing the number of cabs, improving dispatch, and more.

SFMTA's Deputy Director of Taxi Services Christiane Hayashi revealed a somewhat comprehensive outline of what the agency plans for in the near future.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

San Francisco Boasts The Greenest Taxi Fleet In The United States. By John Han.

Paul Gillespie of Yellow Cab and former president of the SF Taxi Commission speaks at
a press conference held at Yellow Cab announcing the taxi industry has
 met its goal to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  In the background
from left to right - SF Mayor Ed Lee, Lieutenant Gov. of California and former SF Mayor
Gavin Newsom, and Sal Castaneda, traffic reporter for KTVU News. 

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, taxi industry representatives, and environmental departments announced Wednesday that the City's taxi industry has succeeded in its goal to significantly reduce the industry's greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

The “Green Taxi Ordinance”, that went into effect in 2008, requires San Francisco's taxi industry to bring its GHG emissions down by 20 percent of the levels they were at in 1990. And the law requires that the goal be achieved by 2012.

Mayor Ed Lee spoke at the press conference, saying that in 1990, the average taxi-vehicle in San Francisco emitted 59 tons of GHG emissions per year.

Today, the average taxi is estimated to emit about 30 tons per year, since 92 percent of the Cit's fleet is now made up of hybrids or CNGs (Compressed Natural Gas). That's a reduction of 49%, and is said to make San Francisco's taxis the greenest fleet in the country.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Recap Of The Taxi Advisory Council Meeting, Monday, January 30, 2012. By John Han.

File photo by John Han.
The Taxi Advisory Council (TAC) voted last Monday on eighteen general ideas to recommend to the SFMTA Board of Directors, (SF Municipal Transportation Agency), to regulate a new, permanent medallion sales structure for the City's taxi industry future.

The eighteen votes represent just over half of the items on the voting agenda. Fourteen still need to be voted on.

The eighteen already voted on were by a simple show of hands.  The items were called one by one, and council members raised hands yielding either an “aye” or “nay” vote for each item.

Thirteen of the fifteen council members were present.

They were – Barry Korengold, John Lazaar, Athan Rebelos, Dan Hinds, Tone Lee, John Han, Ruach Graffis, Richard Hybels, Tara Housman, Chris Sweiss, David Khan, Timothy Lapp, and Carl Macmurdo.

The two council members absent were – Bill Mounsey who represents drivers on the waiting list, and Bill Minikel who represents drivers NOT on the waiting list. Minikel actually, due to moving, no longer serves as a council member and his seat is currently vacant.

TAC chairman Chris Sweiss grouped the items into four main categories totaling thirty-two items. 

The four categories are...