Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Report on the Taxi Advisory Report: Part II - Show Me the Money!

The photo shows Councilor Richard Hybels, Chair Chris Sweis and Councilor John Han working on ideas that may have shown up in the TAC report.

I've decided to comment on a few facets of the report rather than do a play by play. (You can find the complete report on Han's blog.)

But, first, it appears that least two recommendations that the TAC passed are missing from the report:

One - that MTA should go forward with a Request For Proposal (RFP) for Open Taxi Access (OTA). This would invite bidding from tech companies to build the Open Taxi Access Platform. If implemented, OTA could drastically improve taxi service to the neighborhoods.
Two - That the Taxi Services should regain its status as a Division under the MTA.

Though seemingly unrelated, I believe that both subjects are germain to the issue at hand, namely:

Who should get the money?

Most people in the Taxicab business would agree with this statement from the TAC report:

"There is consensus among all industry members that revenue generated from the industry should be reduced and that the SFMTA should re-invest these revenues in the industry."

This was reflected in various TAC votes:
  • Recommendation to reduce the SFMTA re-sale transaction fee to 5%. Adopted 13:1
  • Recommendation to restructure the transaction fee so that 10% goes to the SFMTA and 10% goes to the driver fund. Adopted 8:6
  • Recommendation that all revenues generated from the taxicab industry should be re-invested in the taxicab industry. Adopted Unanimously
  • Recommendation that the SFMTA not have a financial interest in medallion sales. Adopted 9:5
Good for TAC.! Three cheers in fact!

But, the reality is that these recommendations will probably have little effect on the MTA Board.


Because the MTA looks upon Taxi Services as a source of income. It's clearly one of the reasons that they took over the taxicab business in the first place.

Now don't get me wrong! I'm not one of those people who is shouting for freedom from the MTA, or who thinks that money was the "only reason" that the agency took us over. If that was true there would have been:
  • No Pilot Plan.
  • No medallions given to people on the list.
  • No updating of the list.
  • No Driver's Fund.
  • No attempts stop illegal cabs and limos.
  • No modernization of things like A-Card renewal, etc.
  • No dialogue between the drivers and the MTA like we've had at the Town Hall Meetings or (for all its flaws) at the TAC.
If all the MTA wanted was money they simply would have followed a plan of either former Mayor Gavin Newsom or MTA Board Director Malcolm Heinicke (Photo).

Neither of these mad scenarios have taken place ... yet. Nonetheless, the MTA has taken in over $18 million from taxi drivers, has given very little of it back and has shown little indication that it intends to change. In fact, they've added insult to injury by raising most of our licensing fees.

Next: A Strange Conception of Regulation.


  1. Sorry to bother you again Ed but I cant seem to get Hans blog again, any insight on that. Thank you.

    1. Try it again. Somebody bought his name while he wasn't looking. John's new URL is http://www.sftaximedia.com/

  2. The author has posted such a great report on the taxi advisory report. It is good to find such an informative post. Thanks for sharing.

    Minivan Cab Santa Barbara