Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday

Two women from SantaCon wish you a very,  Merry Christmas.

I can only double their cheer. Because I'm beginning to think that the taxi business isn't going to tank after all.

 The world is beginning to get it. The press is beginning to write what we've been saying all along.

But Uber's bs never stops. I don't know which is my favorite quote from the techie snake-oil sales folks:

The South Koreans are paying a bounty to anyone who reports an Uber driver "operating illegally within the city limits. The Seoul government will pay anyone who reports a case of an unlicensed driver carrying paying customers up to 1 million won (a little more than $900)."

Uber's response? "... Uber does not believe it is appropriate for authorities to seek to punish drivers who are trying to make a living through this service," Uber spokeswoman Evelyn Tay said in a statement.

And, "Uber vowed to cooperate with South Korea's legal system, saying it was "confident that its service is legal in the country." Another way of saying that Uber understands Korea's laws better than they do.

But I think the following quote tops everything because in a rare moment of honesty Uber spokesperson Taylor Bennet said that they don't fingerprint because "it takes too long." "It's a very long process, it could take up to months," Bennet said. "Our hires can happen in days time."

Well that clear that up. It's just what we've always said: Uber thinks that its customers will have to put up with an occasional hammer attack or rape in order to boost Uber's bottom line.

The most interesting thing about the statement is that Bennet apparently thinks that his explanation is morally and legally acceptable. He's been hanging with Travis way too long.

But read some recent stuff for yourself. It indeed could be a happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Taxi Appreciation Night

Monday December 15, 2014 
at SomArts from 6pm-10pm 

 Come enjoy live music performed by 
Taxi drivers, great food, and much more… 

 ●SomArts located at 934 Brannan St, between 8th and 9th 
Main entrance located down the long driveway on the 
right side of the building 
●Wheel Chair Accessible 
Plentiful street parking 
●Venue is within two blocks of muni lines 12, 19, 27, and 47 
●You will not be disappointed! 

Just passing the message on.

 Note: The SFMTA will NOT sponsor alcohol at this event!

 I guess this means that you'll have to bring your own.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

SF Taxi Drivers Stage SFO Protest

Monday night from 9 to 11 pm, Taxi drivers protested the San Francisco Airport's decision to allow Uber, Lyft and Sidecar to pick up and drop off at SFO.

Hundred of taxis bypassed the taxi lot, rolled horn-honking around the staging areas and, eventually, picked up customers without paying the $4 SFO fee.

The drivers were and are angry because the Airport is slamming them with the wrong end of a double standard that is economically disadvantageous to them and dangerous for the public.

San Francisco taxicabs are:

  1. Required to carry $1 million commercial livery liability insurance policies that are in effect 24/7.
  2. Inspected by by SFO's Ground Transportation Unit – under the supervision of the San Francisco Police Department.
  3. Required to have drivers who have have passed a week-long training course and a DOJ background check where they are fingerprinted.
Uber, Lyft and Sidecar:
  1. Vehicles are insured for $1 million some of the time, as little as $50,000 other times, and totally uninsured the rest of the time.
  2. Passengers in these vehicles are never completely covered for liability because they sign away their rights to collect compensation in case of negligence on the part of the drivers or the companies.
  3. Vehicles are NOT INSPECTED by SFO or any outside agency. The TNC's offer no proof of inspecting their vehicles at all – except their word (of honor?).
  4. Unlike taxi drivers, TNC drivers are not required to have a special permit or license to operate.
  5. TNC drivers are not given given a fingerprinted background check. The TNC's give no proof of vetting their drivers at all – except their word (of honor?). 
  6. In fact, the SFO police themselves have run several stings showing TNC drivers who did not have drivers licenses, drivers other than the person who was supposed to be driving the TNC vehicle, and several with bad driving or criminal records including one with a sexual assault conviction who had been scheduled to pick up a 22 year old woman traveling alone.
The higher standards of public safety that taxis rightly live up to are much more expensive than the deregulating regulations of the TNC's. This allows Uber, Lyft and Sidecar to temporarily undercut prices. Temporarily – because if they reach their goal of destroying the taxicab business Uber and Lyft and sidecar will, no doubt, price gauge all the time.

Cabs not picking up?

For a period of about 45 minutes passenger were indeed not getting rides. But this was not because the drivers were boycotting customers.

This problem was that the SFO police wouldn't let the taxis pick the customers up. Squad cars with flashing lights and motorcycle cops kept the cabs from stopping at the passenger pick up areas. And the SFO starters would not let customers get into the cabs that did try to pick up.

Then, the cops stopped harassing the protesting cabs, but the drivers still didn't pick up for awhile – probably because they were uncertain as to whether they should try to put the customers in their taxis or not.

After all, there is a $5,000 fine for picking up without paying the fee – a fine that has never been imposed against a TNC despite the fact they've been picking up illegally for two years.

Many customers became frustrated and went in search of other forms of transportation including the white haired businessman below who said that he was taking an Uber for the first time.

When the leaders of the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance SFTWA (who staged the protest) realized what was going at the terminals they talked the protesting drivers into picking customers up again and the cops into letting them do it.

The metadata on my photographs shows that the customers were still being picked up at 9:10 pm and were being picked up again by 9:53 pm

SWTWA board member Barry Korengold said that they had intended for the drivers to pick up from the start. In fact, one point of the protest was to have the taxi drivers get rides without paying the fees like the TNC's have been doing for the last two years.

This YouTube link shows taxi drivers picking up customers at 9:59 pm followed by Jeffrey Rosen of the SWTWA giving a succinct explanation of the reasons behind the protest.

Friday, November 14, 2014

En Farce: Part One

Acting, as usual, more like a spokesperson for Uber, Lyft & Sidecar than a director of Policy and Planning for the CPUC, Marzia Zafar, who was supposed to be a neutral moderator, came to the defence of the TNC conglomerates when a spokesman for the taxi & limo businesses pointed out that the TNCs did not do Department of Justice (DOJ) background checks using fingerprints.

Ms. Zafar (photo left) argued that the venture capitalized transportation corporations (VCTCs) did do background checks but did them online. She spoke as if she had scored the final point (online background checks = the DOJ's background checks) for their side and that the subject was closed.

This was – at the same time – one of the most typical and most bizarre moments of the CPUC hearings on so-called "ridesharing" that started in March of 2013.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Open Letter to Mark Gruberg, Dave Schneider and All The People at Green Cab

Hi Mark, Dave (photo) and the rest of you guys,

I just heard the news that you are probably going out of business and I wanted to express my sympathy along with my gratitude for having spent two years working for a company that was an actual co-op, a place where both professionalism and fair treatment of drivers was of paramount importance.

I'm a story teller and I think a few little tales will explain the difference between the attitude at Green and the way drivers are treated at many other companies.

Shorty before I went to Green, I had my medallion at Luxor Cab. I came to work one day only to find 30 drivers lined up at the cashier's window tying to pick up their cabs. There was no movement for a few minutes so I walked up to the window to find out what was going on. The female cashier, who was supposed to be putting out the taxis, was running numbers on an adding machine.

I watched her for a few minutes then got her attention. She gave me a big smile, apologized for keeping me waiting, stamped my waybill, gave me the medallion and went back to her adding machine.

I called her over and asked what she was doing. She said that she had to add up credit card totals. I told her that she should do it later because the drivers were losing money while they were waiting.

"Don't worry," she said with a suck-ass smile, "just come to the front of the line and I'll put you out."

It was a major reason I left Luxor. I didn't like being forced to act like an asshole just because I held a medallion.

After my first shift at Green, my night driver left me a long letter pointing out that: I had not washed the cab when I turned it in, that I had not vacuumed the inside and that I'd left pistachio shells all over the floor. He ended his note by saying, "We don't act this way at Green."

My first thought was, "Hey – I'm an owner!" My second thought was, "Hypocrite!"

Of course he was right. I should've cleaned he taxi and he should have the right to call me on it if I didn't go my job. A driver's a driver whether he or she owns a medallion or not. Green is one of the few companies where this principle was a daily truth instead of empty verbiage.

Perhaps, the thing I liked best about Green was the fairness with which everyone was treated. As result you had the most professional drivers in the fleet. If I'm not mistaken Green had the highest percentage of radio players and Flywheel users. I also have little doubt that Green set the industry standard for fewest complaints. If Green had any drivers who turned down credit cards or refused to take people to the Sunset they sure didn't talk about it.

Mark – Green set the standard for everyone else to follow. If all the drivers in San Francisco acted like you guys did at Green, the taxi industry would be in much better shape than it is now.

Here's a shot from your 2010 Christmas party. I never stopped enjoying my time there.

Good luck! I hope the rumors of your demise turn out to be false.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Uber Drivers Protest Uber – John Han's Video

I didn't take in the Uber Drivers Uber Protest but John Han did and he was kind enough to let me pass along his two videos. The first runs around sixteen minutes and the second is an edited version of the first concentrating on insurance fraud.

Other insites in the video are the facts that: Uber has 16,000 vehicles in San Francisco alone, cuts in driver's incomes has caused some drivers to work as much as 100 hours a week thus endangering the public, Uber steals parts of their drivers tips, and Uber drivers are aware that they are not insured.

To see the videos, Click below.

Why are Uber drivers protesting Uber? Drivers reveal Uber's terrible ethics by John Han