Saturday, September 5, 2009

Speech Given to Executive SFMTA Director Nathaniel P. Ford

Director Ford,

I'd like to thank you for accomplishing something that everybody thought was impossible: you've unified the taxicab industry ... in opposition to your reorganization plan.

We oppose your plan for three reasons :

First, as voters we object to you going against the intent of Prop A by burying us on your organization chart along with things like marketing and employee relations.

We aren't your employees and taxis have little or nothing it do with marketing or the other categories on your chart.

You clearly think that taxis are a business of minor importance. You're wrong. We are the first and last people that many tourists and conventioneers see. We're an integral part of the transportation of the city and should be treated like it.

Second, you obviously think that the taxis are a simple business. After all, if "cabbies" can do it, how complicated can it be? Well ... the thuth is that the taxi business is incredibly complex - much more complex in fact than buses.

There are no fixed routes in cab driving: no scheduled pick up times. You never know when or where someone will want a cab. Everything is random. It's like one the world's most complicated dice games.

Problems like: how to get service to the neighborhoods when there are conventions downtown, how to balance the public's need for service with the cab drivers need to eat, and how to develop a consensus for reform - demand the full attention of a full time director who has the freedom and power to act with as little restraint as possible.

Nobody, no matter how intelligent or talented, could possibly make knowledgeable decisions about the taxicab business by using 1/7th of her time.

Fortunately, for the last 6 months the city has had Chris Hayashi as a full time Taxi director. And, she has been willing and able to bring all her considerable intelligence to bear on a job that is clearly her passion.

Unlike her predecessors, Ms Hayashi actually likes and respects cab drivers. She's always asking us questions and treats us fairly and justly. In return we like and respect her. As a result, she's learned more about how the taxi business works in 6 months than all the taxi commission people put together learned in the twenty-five years that I've been driving.

Her combination of intelligence, curiosity, devotion to detail and people skills is almost too good to believe. In fact, a few of us were afraid that we were going lose her as director because you'd promote her.

In a short time, Ms Hayashi is going be delivering Mayor Newsom's proposed plan for taxicab reform. I've heard that he wants the drivers to work out a "consensus" on the plan at a series of Town Hall meetings. If he is really serious about preferring a "consensus" to a series of confrontations, Chris Hayashi is the only person who has the knowledge of the business, the knowledge of the players involved, the negotiating skills and the vision to get the job done.

Take off her handcuffs. Let her do her work.

1 comment:

  1. Could not agree more withe sentiments posted here.

    Richard Hybels