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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Crabby Cabbie - Peter Wit from Yellow Cab Comments on Industry

From Crabby Cabbie,...
To all the Don's and Prima Donna's,
who "can never get a cab-when they want one" and want'a to saturate San Francisco with cabs...just like NYC.
In the first place , don't we hear that a line about cops ? Isn't that a mis-quoted joke that goes."You can never find a cop when you need one", ...not cabs. Second, you might also not know... S.F. already has more cabs per-ca-pita then N.Y.C.. It's not April fools day but there is a joke going around S.F. and it's on the general public. Perpetrated by those in the business of exploitation.
Like the small-town cry-ers, (doormen at hotels) or the SFMTA-who now runs taxis- or a big-time taxi company or perhaps ... a small time politician or possibly a hard up news reporter stuck on recycle.
Common sense should tell anyone who has any, when it rains,(it pours) and when it's..."rush-hour" or when it's Friday at 2:00am or when the Opera, Symphony, Opheum and War Memorial let out at the same time just might be a little inconvenient to a cab, the flick of a finger. Not that, it wouldn't be nice, but if one were mature enough, and not a little baby or an animal, like those around the Civic Center, one could reason, that, ... if, EVERYONE wants ANYTHING at the same time,... it may be a little in-convenience, to say the least, to get. You should never say never anyway. Certainly some people that live in S.F. might think their ... "so special" that they don't need to think, ahead, (as a human might) to anticipate man-made behavioral patterns.
There's a little saying, I seem to recall, that goes something like ... "You can't please all the people all the time"... (I don't wonder why) but ..."you can please", ...I forget the rest,... maybe I'm getting too mature.
I marvel at the X-Taxi Commissioners (TXC), Malcom H. and Bruce O. -who currently sit on the MTA board who thought of peak-time taxis, in 2007, when they were on the TXC. Why didn't they put a mechanism in place to measure the difference before or after they added approximately 10% more " from 2007-till today? Because, still, there is nothing is place to measure any effect, that may have occur or not as a result of their action.
It seems ..."Like it or not"...the 64 million dollar answer for MTA's budget is, peak-time taxis. The 64 million dollar question for the public is many more cabs will MTA need to add, to service the... so called "tourists" when they can never get a cab ...when "they"...want one (just one), when it's rains during rush hour? Clearly MTA is displaying animal instincts when suggesting more cabs as a solution. When it contradicts one or two of their own mantras. One, being ... "Auto redaction" and the other,... "Public transit first". Cabs are not public transit, their motor-vehicles for hire and -closer to limousines. A conflict of interest and the City knows it. MTA doesn't need to make cent, thou, they need to make dollars and lots of them. Which means, you can forget about reducing the number cabs, when there's too many cabs, as the article clearly pointed as a problem and common knowledge.
Never mind the heart of S.F. taxi problems such as dispatch, the elephant in the room that taxi-drivers and customers have been complaining about for decades. ( as noted by the Taxi Task Force in 1998, headed by G. Newsom).
You can forget about the working and living conditions of cab drivers or the negative effects as a result of adding an over-flow of cabs. And such things as, traffic, air, or quality of taxi-service (i.e.-taxi-driver).
One SFMTA Board members also professed that "cab drivers are professionals and drive clean cabs"... I'd like to know his source of information. It sounded exactly like it came from the missing - 2007 PC&N report, that was so amateurishly done, just before the TXC added more cabs.
So all is well in taxi-land,...or so it seems,... except some Broad members friends, right around Christmas time, again, can never get a cab when they need. Maybe their from around NYC and late to a party. I can see them now trying flag a cab down around, 38th and Wawona. Maybe if they tried calling for one they'd have a little better luck, I'd suggest the smaller cab-companions for even better luck.
Then there's the MTA's (PR) spokesman who said..."The idea, (of peak- time taxis) is ... so people can get around especially at night and to help tourists get from place to place". He went on to say ..., it "could have a positive revenue impact for the agency as well". Only , could have ?
Well, idealistically that's all fine and dandy, people getting around more easily but, if you do the numbers, historical, on the people's side it doesn't add up. However that would be inconsequential to the larger taxi-companies or MTA.
It should be said..."non-taxi riders" might consist of 95% of the public 75% of time, on any given day. If your a cab driver their never enough customers. And for MTA it's like shooting fish in a barrel because they have on numbers to crunch or final plan conceived. The numbers I crunched don't lie but MTA and the TXC keep throwing them in the trash. Frankly it only seemed logical (elementary)... since no one else was.
To review, -as I've documented and submitted to City Hall (13 years of comparable data) suggests ; tourists from abroad/calif./u.s. fair better (above average) over-all, compared to locals and visitors from the bay area markets. Also never mentioned, when referencing tourists, all, need a hotel or place to sleep and ... three meals a day but certainly not all tourists choose a cab for their transportation needs. Like-wise... taxis do not dependent on tourists. None the less, it makes for a great sound bit and don't you know... MTA knows the drill well.
One also might presume,... logically (?) that "tourists", as it were, like knowledgeable taxi-drivers, not a, .low paying, non-English speaking, rookies. It's no wonder MTA has yet to define what "good taxi service" is ...and maybe you'd like NYC or Boston taxi-drivers in S.F.
If you ask someone who lives in NYC, not the someone who just passes through, about taxis during rush hour, when it's raining, they might also say ..."you can never get a cab". But they don't cry about it. One New Yorker I talked to termed rush-hour in NYC as ..."the bewitching hour". That's the time, all over the world when cabbies change their shifts, from day to night driver. NYC also is a 24 hours city, S.F. a sleepy little town and NYC has a working transit and subway system in place and an after 2:00am night life, to support cab business, unlike S.F.
The idea of peak-time cabs is not new to S.F. it's an old idea that's long been bantered about in City Hall but only used as a ploy, so far, to just add more cabs. The S.F.P.D. and T.T.F. first in suggested the idea in 1998, when there was just 981 cabs in S.F.. One hundred cabs later, then Board of Appeals order to add 300 cabs and then define "peak-times" before releasing them "if needed". But just like the idea of dispatch, peak-cabs got lost in the fog and in the minds of S.F.'s politics, which may explain why the cost of living for cab driver hasn't been addressed since 2003. "It seems" one really cares in City Hall about drivers. With-out a Union or any real representation their pretty much, pickled in a barrel, going down the river for a-dine a dozen. All S.F. did for the last 12 years was add more cabs, it forgot cab service. Today (2011) S.F. has 1500 cabs. After a double dose reality, I for one, presume MTA not capable of acting with well intent.
It's easy to see taxi dysfunction in S.F. , it's right on the tops of taxis. If they can't even get an off and on of a taxi to work right. There's something awfully disturbing about being in a world class city and them not being able to get a light switch to work right, especially, in the middle of the mecca of hi-tec, in ..."the age of communication". Local law and international standers should dictate along with common sense. But that might be weird S.F.
Never mind the eternal frustration for both, customer and cabbie not to mention safety. Clearly the top-light should be when a cab has customer or,...when off duty or the cab has a radio order. But you won't hear any complaints about that from MTA. Do the words "revenue source" mean anything to you? Ever hear of "comcast"... like in advertising? (please note; Cab-vision is coming soon with ads talking) The profit is in the dysfunction, two things,MTA and Big companies can't seem to do without.
To find the real "true grit"of S.F. taxi service, you'll have to dig deep and sift though all the dirt City Hall keeps kicking out.
Noting the limited scope of the reporting.
1.) Certain doormen at many major Hotels in S.F. ; Take bribes from limos for SFO rides, which causes cabs to avoid many hotels, creating a back log of customers, or a black-hole effect, if you will, for good service. It should be noted that the Taxi Commission added more cabs, even thou their 2007 PCN documented, most doormen thought taxi-service was adequate.
2.) Mark Gruger ; The mouth piece for UTW, at times, speaks for himself mostly and is a medallion holder, also an owner operator of Green Cab. As for UTW... they lost credibility with most older taxi drivers years ago, Taxi drivers do not have a union and use of UTW suggests taxi drivers have a Union. If one were to do a poll, one would find this greatly misleads public perception that S.F. taxi drivers have a real union.
3.) Barry Taranto (x-cabbie 2plus years..., casualty of the taxi commission, currently un-employed, due to stress...and his own poor driving skills as a cabbie. Is a way over-used resourced for taxi news who's also been refereed to as a "nat" by some insiders.
Other-wise, I see this article as balanced somewhere between ..."I can never get a cab" and ..."there's to many cabs on the streets during slow times".
Now, if it was only possible find some hard-data, as opposed uncatalogued anecdote, like what's in the 2007 PCN report. Some of the most relevant reports published have also been over looked, ...or just plain buried. Perhaps they're a little too equitable (hint) or balanced and they -costly, in-depth reports- best be keep in the dark,... out of sight and out of mind.
Is this why doesn't M.T.A. have a good plan in place or a leg to stand? And, how does adding more cabs make S.F. any greener. Peak-time taxis is not a novel idea either, however to date S.F. would be the first actual city make it work. Many other cities (both abroad and in the U.S) have already addressed peak-time taxi demands and taxi dispatch in a more realistic or humane manner.
Some cities like the idea of "cab-pooling", (also brought up in 1998 and forgotten) and some cities like "congestive pricing" or "dispatched pricing" or advanced deposits. The point I'd like to make is there are plenty of practical options out there, that are working.
One scenario, that does not address dispatch, I see working in S.F. -if thought-out properly - would be a win win, win, win, win for all. That would be to implement a combination of both... "peak-time pricing" (to ease demand, so as to increase cab availability and for radio service) while developing and encouraging ..."city cab-pooling" naturally (easing the cost while increasing the supply for flag consumer and radio service). By one simple flick of a finger. In a matter of moments, no fuss and no muss. Theoretically doubling or tripling the availability of taxis, without adding one. Taxi-meter rates can be changed accordingly, to peak-times. Higher rates can be set to activate between, 7:00 to 9:30 and 5:00 to 8:00, during the week-days and at late night times on weekends. This will give induce maximum flexibility as well assuring efficiency and effectiveness. Assuming "most people"... don't take taxis and taxi driver's need to make a living too.
Perfect for tourists - in Que lines at hotels- as well as for the downtown worker (one) waiting for a cab home, I would think in "the" city of love, S.F. it would be the perfect fit. Bar crowds on the other hand, may need special attention such as girls-share-cabs only as one country is doing. I imagine most tourists or conventioneers go to the usual tourist spots,(Chinatown, Fisherman's wharf, N. Beach or Union sq.
MTA does want to help tourists don't they? I don't think they'd mind sharing as opposed to waiting,... for their crooked doorman to try and flag one. I'm sure the details could be worked out, if one put a mind to it, we did go to the moon, didn't we?
Think about this..if it is a small world, after all and you do like to travel might not what go to other side of the pond. I hear if you get caught in the rain wearing a white shirt, your shirt wouldn't be white for long. With that in mind keeping congestion and pollution in check should be the first think in the minds of our City care takers along with maintaining a S.F. taxi driver's income. And I don't think they should be baiting the public based on information on a plan from the obis. .
No one likes to be left in the cold, on hold or in the dark. Like the time one night, when I drove passed City Hall around 10:00pm and a party was letting out. I didn't see anyone laughing there. Someone should have told them, (if they needed a cab) they should have walked around to the Van Ness side because no one likes to be left on the wrong corner either. Maybe MTA's little joke is on some of the insiders of City Hall, too. If the S.F. City "insiders" and MTA truly want to service the "public" needs, they'd set their sight on the recent S.F. taxi history -so as not to repeat it- see just adding cabs, these days, simply compounds the -un-reported joke of dispatch. Then quit joking around and consider a more realistic approach to the bigger problems. Because "Tricks are for kids"... and adults, who don't know any better or can't plan ahead.

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