Sunday, July 10, 2011

Take Me Out from the Ball Game

The Giant's game had just ended on Saturday 7/9/2011 at about 8:15 PM I drove down Townsend from 3rd to 2nd Street. A throng of people were lining the curb as I approached the corner, several of whom flagged me. I thought about pulling around the corner to the official pick up area on 2nd but the street was so crowded that I was afraid of running over people's feet. Instead, I pulled over and stopped next to the curb.

Four middle-aged men got into my cab.  Simultaneously parking cop number 309 (photo) ran over and told me that he was ticketing me for stopping on a green light (probably true) and creating a "hazard" (false.) I had pulled off to the right, was not blocking traffic and a Yellow Cab had stopped safely behind me.

I asked the cop for his badge number (which he wasn't wearing. Has he had similar confrontations before?).  He said his badge number would be on the citation that he was writing. I waited for him to fill out the ticket and asked him to give it to me.

He refused, saying that he would send it to me in the mail. I told that I wanted the ticket and his badge number. He repeated that his number was on the citation. I asked him again for the ticket which he had finished writing and had folded into his ticket book.

First, he said that the wouldn't give it to me because I had customers in the cab. Then, he said that I'd have to wait around for it and began to walk off with the ticket in his pocket.

Then, I stupidly called him an "asshole" (thus making him look good) and drove my customer to the Hyatt Regency.

My customers couldn't believe that he'd given me a ticket. One man was so angry that he gave his phone number and said he'd testify on my behalf.  Always a good idea to have a witness.

I drove off, legally parked my car, grabbed my camera and went back to video him. I won't go into the ensuing screaming match in detail but I did get his badge number. It was either that or he'd have to explain to me on video why he'd refused to give it to me in the first place.

His story also grew on the second telling. He then claimed that I'd not only created a "hazard" but had double-parked.

I went back to pick up fans from the game two more times but I went down 4th Street to Cal Tran. There seemed to be more taxis working this location than there had been on 2nd Street.

I'm wondering if it's simply easier to go down 4th? Or if other drivers have had similar experiences with this clown?

This was the second time that I've gotten a ticket after the game. The other time was for picking up customers after stopping at a red light. This cops also claimed that I was blocking traffic thus creating a "hazard." The only thing that interfered with the traffic flow in either case was the cops wasting 5 minutes of everyone's time writing me citations.

I've recently spotted several other drivers being similarly harassed by PCO's while trying to provide service for customers. Would it be unfair for me to suggest that these characters have their priorities backwards? Shouldn't they be concentrating on getting taxis to the public instead of penalizing drivers for trying to do their jobs?

Deputy Director Hayashi told me later that any driver who gets tickets like this should fight them and send a copy to Taxi Services.


  1. Just sent this to Taxi Office at SFMTA yesterday:

    Earlier today, July 09, 2011, at about 3:45pm, at the intersection of Post and Stockton streets, the parking enforcement officer, male, about 6' 1", about 55 years of age, (who basically diverts private vehicles to Post Street and allows only taxis and buses to go on Stockton street) acted utterly unprofessionally, which almost caused an accident with a pedestrian and my taxicab. Luckily an accident did not happen.

    I was going on Post street with two passengers in my taxicab and I was about to make a right turn onto Stockton street. The parking officer was standing right in the middle of the lane. I beeped lightly a couple of times as he was looking away. He did not move to let me go. Instead he directed me to go around him - basically drive entirely to another lane which is not-accessible to me as it is construction zone. I pulled up a little bit towards this officer and lowered the window and I told him that I cannot go dangerously close to him and he should move. He replied "You do not know how to drive" in a bossy tone. This upset me highly. At the same time my cab moved a few inches and was about to hit a pedestrian but I stopped in time.

    After having driven close to a quarter million miles I don't need this bad-behaved officer to tell me that I do not know how to drive, at the end of my shift when I am very tired. He completely upset me with his bossy attitude.

    This parking officer needs some counselling or disciplinary action. He thinks the road is his backyard and I am his student. It is joke to tell me that I do not know how to drive. It is also offensive. I do not try to tell him how to do his job, and so I expect him to not try to teach me mine.

    After going away from there and after dropping off those passengers I went back to that location, and asked him to give me his name or id number so I could include that information in my complaint. He refused to do so and said he will write me a ticket for blocking the intersection. I asked him to go ahead and write me a ticket, so that we get to know his name (The ticket will contain his initials). I will write back when I receive the ticket in the mail with his initials, so he can be tracked and disciplined.

  2. I don't know how many times it needs to be emphasized. The coolest thing I ever saw with respects to this type of thing was workers in orange jackets associated with the Embarcadero Farmer's Market helping Ferry Plaza shoppers getting into cabs... even flagging the cab for them. That's a world away from taxis getting ticketed for $100 for trying to service that area. Same thing with this story and the ballpark. PCO's at Giants games should be doing whatever they can to make it easier to assist people into taxicabs. Instead they punish taxi drivers. They are wrong and this needs to change.

  3. Ed,
    In a shit storm of bodies in motion everywhere after a game, it is clear that the traffic enforcers are there to dole out tickets to cabdrivers, since they don't do anything about jaywalking. Yes, it WOULD make sense to encourage folks to not drive and take taxis to and from. What would also make sense is to have taxi ONLY lanes to get cabs to and from the park to convey those looking for cabs quickly-like they do at Candlestick after football games. Oh, wait a minute. Indeed they do have dedicated bas and taxi only lanes at the Stick, but they
    don't enforce them. Every Towncar, and many private cars use them.
    Over the years I've gotten all kinds of horse shit tickets, and as I debate with the
    writer of the ticket, they tell me, "Tell it to the judge," meaning they don't make the laws, just enforce them. Yet, after football games, the idiots who don't make the laws, just enforce them, DIRECT private cars onto the bus and taxi only
    lanes. That seems contrary to their jobs of enforcing traffic. As a cabby, I then
    sit in traffic and subsequently decide not to go back to the Stick after dropping,
    despite a nice ride waiting to get back downtown.
    If I'm not mistaken, the traffic regulators are penalizing cab drivers for the public's lack of knowledge of where to legally take taxis from A&TT. To line the dominoes up further, the public doesn't know where to go because the enforcers and the City doesn't make it clear enough. How bout an announcement a few times a game on the scoreboard to get taxis on 2nd St only? How about gving the offending cab taker the ticket for flagging a cab in an inappropriate spot? I realize that is ludicrous, but I also think the current policy is ludicrous.
    Also, for the upcoming Outer Lands concert, I think they should have one street dedicated to only cabs and buses so we can get in and out quickly enough to avoid the debacle we've seen in the past out there. Our leaders don't think the details through, and the small-minded like 309 are given all the power.
    This policy is merely an extension of the revenue grabbing tactics from taxis to the SFMTA, as exhibited by the confused and unfair ticketing of cabs for blocking bike lanes, preferred by the bike coalition over getting doored, the
    blocking of 50 feet long crosswalks at the Ferry Building, and the cops ticketing cabs for the use of their hazard lights when dropping or picking up. Also, the increased fees charged by SFMTA for A Card and medallion renewals, 5 percent credit card fees to pay for the backseat terminals, and the sale of medallions to feed the voracious financial appetite of the multiple-headed hydra that is the
    SFMTA. I have never seen a traffic control officer run down a bus that has just

    honked it's horn as it pulls out of a bus stop to run a red light instead of stopping, and I believe it to be due to their powerful union. Taxi drivers should join the UTW and get representation as a group instead of fighting the ticket on your own and forwarding it to taxi services. It took months to get action on the above referenced issues with bike lanes etc, despite cabs and Pco's all existing as one big, happy family under the SFMTA's umbrella. NOT. MUNI's operator's union has two thousand members, and is extremely powerful. There are seven thousand cabbies in SF; imagine what could be accomplished with a unified front.
    Whew. Time for me to breath...

  4. Instead of helping guide taxis and other vehicles the DPT just minds money making. Their motive is "money" not guiding and assisting.

    Yes, they should learn from the guides/gaurds at the Ferry building on how to facilitate traffic and services. DPT sucks.