Sunday, February 27, 2011

How to Stop Illegal Taxis and Limos

Actually - it ain't that hard. I mean, it's not like the phony roadsters are difficult to find.

This is what you might call a classic illegal vehicle. Is it a cab? Is is limo? Or, is it both a cab and a limo?

Whatever - this one's been around for a couple of years, apparently unmolested by any form of enforcement or the police.

As the old saying goes, "where there is a will there is a way." But if there is no will, what you get are illegal limo/taxis.

Sometimes they actually look like cabs. But the one below is lacking the Yellow triangle and has a disconnected phone number.

Sometimes they just steal a name and splash on an approximate color.

Sometimes they don't try hard enough. This one stole Luxor's colors but gave it a generic name.

 If you look closely you can see 401 on the front door and 778 near the back.

"Yellow" is popular word for naming pseudo taxis but it covers a wide variety of sins.

Some of these vehicles might be legal in places like Marin.

Some are just plan ridiculous.

The phone number on the above faux taxi actually did work. The guy who answered wouldn't tell me what city he was in but he did say that he was no longer in the cab business.

Whatever their virtues or lack thereof, these illegal vehicles all have 3 things in common:
  1. They don't pay business taxes - at least not in San Francisco.
  2. They don't pay license fees in San Francisco.
  3. Insurance companies void auto polices if the vehicles are used as taxis or for illegal activities. Therefore, people riding in these vehicles are not insured. 
The SFPD talks a good game when it comes to illegal cab and limo enforcement but the truth is that they're just too busy. In fact they are so busy that they can't seem to gave a ticket to an illegal vehicle unless they're paying themselves overtime.

In May 2010, Chief Murphy promised us a direct line that we could use to report illegal vehicles. As of this morning, nine months later, he still hasn't found the time to set up that phone number.

I checked with the police and you can call 311 to report an illegal taxi although the officer I spoke with thought that 311 was more for complaints about real taxis.

When you call 311 they are very polite and what they do is politely pass your complaint on to the "Taxi Commission" - which no longer exists.  

We cab drivers know either where the illegal taxis and limos are or where they are likely to show up. All we need are a few good men and women who have the will, the authority and a systematic plan to put these clowns out of business.

If the Board of Supervisors passes Taxi Services Director Christiane Hayashi's proposed changes in the transportation code on March 1, 2011, that's exactly what Taxi Services should be able to do.


    1. Every one of the above cabs are in San Francisco all time and they even try to grab the fares flagging SF cabs. Another one is missing though. The phone number is 415-333-3633.

    2. my not very politically correct letter to Sup Cohen
      I am a property owner in district 10 and I have a been a taxi driver in San Francisco since 1978. Starting about twenty years ago I began to notice limousine drivers picking up passengers as if they driving a taxi.
      I wrote numerous letters to the State Senator Quentin Kopp and the CPUC as they regulate Limousines. I have had many meetings with CPUC as well. I’m sorry to say that in spite of Senator Kopp’s vigorous efforts, CPUC has had virtually no effect on Limousines operating unlawfully. Indeed it is a growth industry that is removing millions of dollars from the legitimate taxi industry.
      Imagine the frustration of operating a legitimate business and seeing someone across the street openly violating the regulations you are obeying and doing a handsome volume of business for twenty years and the authorities will do nothing but pay lip service.
      I am astonished to learn that you are opposed to the passage of the proposed legislation because there may be an impact on the unlawfully operated cars for hire in your district. A member of the Board of Supervisors giving tacit approval to an illegal business?
      I don’t think any San Francisco cab driver is concerned about the folks that hang around the grocery stores helping folks get there goods home. That is not even a drop in the bucket.
      What we are concerned about are the hundreds of Town Cars that ply the streets every day of the week operating illegally. Many cab drivers have joined the ranks of the outlaws over the years because they know very well that they will suffer no consequences. Many don’t even bother with a CPUC license.
      Getting into a Town Car that you have not hired legally or an unauthorized taxi is absolutely no different than hitch hiking. Many people have experienced being ripped off and there have been assaults and sexual assaults.
      Now finally someone has taken the initiative to really do something and you are opposed to it if what I’m hearing is correct.
      It may not be politically correct to say it, but Bay View / Hunters point is underserved and the reason is fairly obvious. A friend of mine still carries a bullet in his back that he acquired driving at Third and Palou one night. It was not even a robbery but someone that just wanted to shoot a cab driver.
      I can guarantee you that you won’t find any black Town Cars or out of town taxis serving the your district.