Friday, July 8, 2011
As entertaining as I found the recent protests, I'm a believer in real politics. Fun is fun but was anything accomplished?
If the purpose of the protests was to give drivers a chance to vent about injustice and create a feeling of empowerment, the demonstations were a resounding success.
If the purpose was to bring the SFMTA to a bargaining table, they were also successful.
If the purpose was to change certain working conditions, they were successful in some ways, not so successful in others. For this post, I want to look at the successes.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I actually started this post last week but got sidetracked. I forget to take it off the blog and I've already got comments from people who apparently think that I don't see any successes. Not True. Sorry.
Town Hall Meetings
The most successful aspects of the tumult were the Town Hall Meetings themselves which gave drivers a chance to give their opinions on credit card charges, back-seat terminals, electronic waybills, etc.
It could be said (and was) that Taxi Services should have held these meetings before legislating major operational changes but such criticism is a little unfair. The subjects were discussed at a couple of TAC meetings and there was at least one previous Town Hall Meeting concerning various PIM choices and credit card fee options but almost nobody showed up.
This is typical. In addition to the other meetings, Taxi Services also recently held a Town Hall Meeting concerning the future of the Pilot Plan (potentially much more important than anything currently being discussed by protesters and there were only ten or twelve drivers in attendance). In this town, most cab drivers don't pay attention to taxi politics unless they're traumatized.
But I digress ... every protest (and the ensuing meetings) did stimulate at least one positive result for the drivers.
Protesta Número Uno
The major proposal that came out of the first series of Town Hall Meetings was a meter increase that should work out to around 22%. This was already in the works but there is no doubt that protests speeded up the process - possibly by several months.
Many in the taxi industry (including myself) have said that NO GATE INCREASE should accompany the rise on the meter. The Taxi companies have already been given a quid pro quo by the passing on credit card fees to the drivers.
If you do the math (assuming that half of a driver's rides are credit cards) this means that cab drivers should be getting a 19% or 20% raise - even if they are charged a 5% fee on credit cards.
Protesta Número Dos
As you may recall, some companies, supervisors and others were pushing to put as many 500 taxis on the street while these Town Hall Meetings took place. Coming up with a compromise plan was one of three proposals that come out of the discussions and the following TAC meeting
- 25 Single Operator Permits, 2 Electric Vehicles should be added to the taxi fleet and 25 Medallions should be given to drivers on the Waiting List. This has since been magically changed by the SFMTA to 50 Single Operator Permits, 2 EV's, 25 to the List and 10 medallions to be sold by the MTA.
- There was a major compromise on Electronic Waybills proposed by Hayashi.
- A recommendation that the MTA Board reconsider Open Taxi Access.
Protesta Número Tres
The great time out protest - which was planned at least three weeks before it took place - lead to exactly one accomplishment.
- SFMTA Board President Tom Nolan asked Hayashi to see if the credit card fees could be lowered to 3%.
He also said that it was time for the Board to take another look at Open Taxi Access but that was the result of the previous TAC.
That's it kids!
Next: Not so positives.