Monday, April 29, 2013

The Hara Study: Hotels & ATT

"The correct perception of a matter and the total misunderstanding of the same matter do not necessarily preclude each other."    Franz Kafka

I find myself using the above quote far too often lately - usually in reference to brain-dead "investigative reporters." It gives me no pleasure to find Kafka's satirical wisdom also appropriate to parts of the Hara report.

I was one of the drivers that Dr. Hara interviewed. I found him to be personable, likable, intelligent, serious and apparently open-minded. He asked good questions. However, it's the questions that he didn't ask that now bother me. Dr. Hara didn't ask me (or I believe any other cab driver) one single thing about how hotels or cab stands operate. That is to say, he constructed a major part of his study without asking the experts in the field (us) how the phenomena he was studying actually worked.

Take the W Hotel (above photo) for instance. Dr. Hara found that at certain times of the day it was easier for a taxi driver to find a customer than for a customer to find a cab. Fine. I'm sure it's sometimes true. What Dr. Hara didn't understand is that the "shortage" of cabs at this location was due largely to policies of the people running the W hotel. That's the polite way of putting it. Another way, would be to say that the problem is primarily caused by the corruption and cluelessness of the hotel management and their doormen.

Deconstructing the W 

The hotel is at the corner of 3rd & Howard streets. The door where people come out to get cabs is on Howard about one hundred feet from the corner just behind the limo in the photograph. The taxi line is in front near the corner but away from the door.

What we are looking at here is an example of the aforementioned corruption. The women in the photo came out of the door and originally started walking toward the taxis. The limo driver quickly climbed out of his vehicle and engaged her in a conversation. A few moments later, she got in the limo and drove off. This was not an accidental occurrence. In order to be the woman's first option, the limo driver pays off the doorman who most likely splits the payola with management.

It doesn't have to be this way. At the Las Vegas Bally Hotel, for instance, taxis are the first option. But in most San Francisco hotels (the Fairmont, the Mark Hopkins, the Ritz, the Intercontinental, the Stanford Court, the Mandarin, all the Hiltons, all the Hyatts, etc) the doormen try to put customers into limos first - especially for airports runs and other long rides.

"So," the gentle reader might ask, "the cab driver gets the shaft. So what?

So, two things. Corruption breeds hostility and inefficiency. 1. Cab driver are not likely to go out of their way to help out these hotels when they do get busy. 2. Customers also are often kept waiting by the doorman for a driver who "really knows how to get to the airport" when of course what they are really waiting for is a dude carrying a bribe.

The "clueless" part of the equation should be obvious but apparently is not.

The "W" is on 3rd & Howard. Both are one way streets. 3rd is one of the main corridors heading downtown. The taxi shifts change from 3 pm to 7 pm. During that time, 3rd is usually flush with empty taxis that pass right by the W. But, as noted before, the entrance to the hotel is a hundred feet away on Howard. If a taxi driver wants to pick up the fare at the W, he or she has to spend 5 or 10 minutes circling the block through heavy traffic to get to a customer who almost certainly will not be going to SFO and might not be there at all.

The best cure for the "cab shortage" at the W then would simply be for the SFMTA to put one or two passenger zones on the 3rd street side of the hotel and move the doorman along with his customers to the corner. Viola! Problem solved!

This kind of artificial "taxi shortage" that is actually caused by management polices is hardly unique to the W. Numerous other hotels such The Intercontinental are set up in the same way - with similar results.

Doormen at other hotels such as the Fairmont, the Ritz and the Stanford Court insist that cab drivers only pick up in driveways that are frequently gridlocked and slow down the process of getting a customer into a cab 5 or 10 minutes every ride. Putting out more taxis won't speed up these door twits one wit.

And, this doesn't begin to mention the "Transportation First" polices of the SFMTA that have created gridlock on every street south of Market and drastically slowed down both the pick up times and the transportation of the public by taxicabs in the process. In addition, a seemingly small thing like making it illegal to turn left from Powell onto Sutter has had a profound negative effect on cab service at twelve small hotels on Sutter and Bush near union square. Once again, more taxis won't improve this situation as long cab can't make that left turn.

Dr. Hara could have found out about such things by talking to a few cab drivers. But perhaps the subject wouldn't have interested him anyway given that it didn't fit in with his theme.

 On the other hand, talking to us would've saved him from making a totally useless study of the pick up times at the cab stand on 2nd Street at ATT Park.

 Yes - the pick up times can be slow at this location. But with hundreds of cab customers coming out of a game at the same time that is more or less inevitable but the major reason for the shortage of taxis at that cab stand is PCO Badge No 309 (photo) and his colleagues. You can read more about the absurd details here but the important fact is that this twit (Sorry for the repetition but what better word is there?) gave me a ticket for picking up customers when I was legally parked because ... well I'm not too sure. Except that he clearly believed that ticketing cab drivers was far more important than helping baseball fans get home after a game.

I later learned that almost every cab driver has been ticketed by these clowns while trying to do their jobs. The result is that almost no experienced driver will head to the stand on 2nd. While many drivers won't go near the area when the ball games get out at all, I find that it's usually safe to pick the fans up at Cal Trans. I mean, like, I'm a fan too.

But this is minor stuff.  More important is the fact that the way that Dr. Hara went about collecting much of his data was fundamentally flawed.

More on this in a future post.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More Cabs, Hotels & Illegal Taxis

A doorman at the Marriot Marquis came up to me after the MTA Board voted to add the 120 plus taxis and rhetorically asked how they could put out more cabs without busting Lyft, Sidecar and Uber?

I thought it was an interesting question for a number of reasons - not the least being the source. If there is a hotel that could justly complain about the cab service, it would be that Marriot. It's at the end of the Union Square hotel row, the traffic is bad at the best of times and it is currently impossible to get to directly from the Square.

Yet, here is a doorman with a opinion that echos what I told he MTA Board. "You shouldn't put out more cabs unless the bogus rideshares are driven out of business."

This helps underline what I think are the weakest parts of the Hara report: the sections on the hotels and the ridesharing.

But before doing so I have to confess that I've partially changed my mind. The major themes of the report seem correct. There are too few taxis in San Francisco compared to some other cities and more people in the neighborhoods would take cabs if they could be sure of getting one. Almost everybody who gets in my taxi tells me this. If the city and state would eliminate the illegal vehicles, we could use some more cabs. Putting out 120 more now (an increase of less than 1%) - especially if the taxis go to people on the list - won't kill the business and will finally reward a few drivers for their devotion to the transportation business and their patience. And, if the fake cabs are zapped, we could use the additional taxies.

On the other hand, if the "fake rideshares" are left untouched, people should still be able to recoup their $125,000 investment. Friday and Saturday nights will still be Friday and Saturday nights.

More tomorrow. I have to try out my new running shoes then do to work.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SFMTA Board Authorizes 120 New Taxi Permits

Although the type of taxi permits were not part of the vote, it appears that they will be sold to the drivers at the top of the Waiting List for $125,000. The text of the amendment can be read below.

"Authorizing the Director to issue up to 120 new taxi permits in 2013 and up to an additional 200 new taxi permits in 2014; to offer such medallion permits to qualified applicants on the medallion waiting list, or lease medallion permits directly to drivers or to color scheme permit holders; establishing that all taxi medallionpermits shall be operated with a hybrid, electric or compressed natural gas vehicles; and amending Transportation code Section 1116 to reduce the Medallion Transfer price to $250,000, reduce the Reduced Medallion Transfer price to $125,000, and change the Medallion Surrender Price to $200,000."

Friday, April 12, 2013

The CPUC Workshops

Workshops on Rulemaking on Regulations Relating to Passenger Carriers, Ridesharing and New Online-Enabled Transportation Services (NOETS) were held on April 10-11, 2013 at the San Francisco CPUC auditorium. In the photo are some of the attorneys for Sidecar, Lyft and Uber.

I'm just giving a short impression of the workshops so I'm not going to do a laundry list of the people involved. I'm going to go into more detail later. Besides, the proceeding were videotaped and the speakers gave their names before talking. A link to the video will be provided at the end of the post.

My impression is that these proceeding were largely decided before the workshops were held. There are several reasons for this:

  • As is well-known, Cease and Desist Orders were removed from Lyft and Uber before the hearings began.
  • Less well-known is the fact that the Cease and Desist Order has not been removed from Sidecar. Nonetheless, the company has put out around 1,000 illegal cabs since they were given the Order and are not even going to be slapped on the wrist for it.
  • In fact, a Sidecar attorney has said that they have just about worked an arrangement with the CPUC which would seem to make the proceeding very much beside the point.
  • The CPUC backed up, not only Lyft, but Sidecar when they refused to show their "Million Dollar" insurance polices for us to look at.
  • Early in the workshop an Uber official was given all the time he wanted to present his position. Director Christiane Hayashi of the SFMTA was later cut off in the midst of a speech because the moderator said that she was taking too much time.
But you can judge this for yourself.

In addition, the very way the issues were formulated assumed the acceptance of Lyft, Sidecar and Uber's major positions.

   1. We were instructed to frame our comments in terms "protecting public safety" and "encouraging technological innovation."

  • Early on, the moderators repeatedly interrupted the proceeding to say that speakers weren't addressing the part about "encouraging innovation" enough.
  • After the third such interruption, it became clear that by "technological innovation" they meant what Lyft, Sidecar and Uber do.

    2. We were also told to work out a "compromise" which would naturally assume the legal acceptance of Lyft, Sidecar and Uber.

  • A compromise could be worked with Uber - in so far as it operates as taxi app or a limo service.
    •  But compromise is of no interest to them whatsoever.
  • Legalizing the bogus, so called "ridesharing services," the actual illegal taxicab services of Lyft and Sidecar, would effectively deregulate and thus destroy the legal taxicab industry. 
    • There is clearly no room for compromise on this issue.

Numerous speakers pointed out that the apps used by the NOETS are in no important ways different than apps such as Taxi Magic and Flywheel that are already being used by taxis and limos.

My own position (was and is) that the only thing innovative about the NOETS has been their insistence in marketing their products by violating laws and ordinances set up to protect the public.

I would like to add that with many technologies the original invention is the crucial thing - the one that changes the world. All further innovations and improvements are minor or secondary.

Take the word processor for instance. We get a new version of Word every few years but it makes little difference except to our pocketbooks. The thing that the changed the way I write was the original invention. In fact, the WordPerfect program that I used fifteen years ago was in many ways easier to use and better than the world processor I'm using now.

With Taxi apps the major innovations are over. They all connect passengers and drivers more or less instanteously. They all have GPS showing routes and giving approximate times for connection. They all offer the driver the option of talking to the customer and visa versa.

Unless someone comes up with a way to transport customers ala Star Trek technological innovations are not really at issue here.

What was not mentioned as subjects for the workshops were the negative effects that the NOETS are having on the incomes, protections and benefits of professional drivers as well as the taxicab and limo industries.

One positive sign in the workshops was that an attorney for Sidecar seemed to think that HIS side was being abused and accused us of making "ad hominen attacks" on them. I don't really know what he was talking about because, with one or two admittedly regrettable exceptions, I think we pretty much attacked them on the issues.

But the attorney did add a little levity to the workshop by snapping at a CPUC official when she asked him a question.

"Don't interrupt me when I'm speaking!" he snarled. And people criticize me for being abrasive?

For physicists only: The most ridiculous argument was put forth by Attorney Edward O'Neill of Uber when he claimed that the few seconds it takes for a passenger to hail a cab using an Uber app and be accepted by an Uber driver constitutes "pre-arrangement."

Hmm - is my comment ad hominen?  O'Neill's argument is its own reductio ad absurdum.

Anyway - you can watch the action here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

MY Pre-hearing Conference Notes

I was pressed for time so I'll just make my points with Bold and bullets. Sorry.

The so-called “community driving vehicles” or “peer to peer taxi services” should not be legalized under any circumstances.

It would be impossible to regulate them.
  • How would you tell a Sidecar from any other car? You couldn’t.
  • It would cost the state millions to even try to regulate them and California is already strapped for money.
  • 1. One reason that illegal taxicab services like Lyft and Sidecar got a foothold in the state is that the CPUC only had one investigator for all of northern California.
Legalizing Lyft and Sidecar, etc. would be the same as total deregulation of the personal transportation business.
According to Schaller:

“As the competition increases the amount of money for each driver declines. Drivers thus tend to congregate in the places that are busy already instead of going to the outlying area where they are less likely to get a ride."
  • The quality of the vehicles also declines because there is less money available to buy new ones. 
  • I would like to add that the quality of the drivers declines because experienced drivers will seek other work as income levels decline.
    • More from Schaller: "there appears to be a strong relationship between taxicab crash rates and driver incomes. Higher driver incomes are associated with lower crash rates."
    • In Addition, the public could be exposed to danger from accidents or assaults by untrained and unvetted drivers.
Deregulation is already taking place in San Francisco.
  • Income of drivers is dropping dramatically.
  •  Resulting in many professional taxi drivers leaving the business.
  • They are being replaced by part-time amateurs who are untrained.
The proliferation of illegal vehicles is leading to a drastic decline in the quality of cars.

Classic deregulation theory says that a natural balance will eventually work out between customers and taxis or other personal carriers because oversupply will cease when only so many drivers or companies can make a profit out of the business.
  • However, app suppliers like Lyft and Sidecar have virtually no expenses.
  • They don’t buy cars, pay for insurance, pay for workers comp or claim any responsibility for what happens in the vehicles that are hailed using their apps.
  • If, for instance, a Lyft customer were to be assaulted by a Lyft driver, Lyft has already disclaimed any responsibility in its “terms” that the customer (usually unknowingly) has signed.
Despite the fact that the city is already overflowing with their illegal taxis, both Lyft and Sidecar are continuing to pump out new drivers.
  • Sidecar has so many vehicles in operation that a driver only has 15 or 20 seconds to respond to an order before  it is given to the next nearest five cars.
    • This only would only happen if there were more cars than there is business.
  • Sidecar has come out with a heat map to show their drivers where most of the business is.
    • Which happens to be the same places where taxicabs are usually working.
  • Lyft and Sidecar vehicles are also seen playing flags or lined up at hotels.
    • Which they wouldn’t be doing if they had enough business.
Legalizing Lyft, Sidecar, etc. would lead to massive congestion and pollution.
  • This is already taking place. Even if all the other vehicles were hybrids like San Francisco taxis, the duplication of effort - with all these vehicles competing for the same rides in the same places - would cause (and is causing)  massive congestion and pollution.
  • The vast majority of the thousand+ illegal vehicles put on the street by Lyft, Sidecar etc. are not hybrids but older gas guzzling vehicles.
  • If you add the thousand or so limos cruising the town - you have an environmental nightmare.

If the CPUC were to rule that Lyft and Sidecar et al were to be classified as “ridesharing” or “car pooling” services that could be covered by Personal Liability Insurance, the Personal Liability Insurance rates of every driver in San Francisco, as well as California and probably the country, would have to go up.

"The lower crash rates for cabbies are not so surprising given that taxi drivers are far more experienced than other drivers. They are behind the wheel up to 3,000 hours a year. Their driving records are scrutinized by the Taxi and Limousine Commission and auto insurance carriers. They risk losing their livelihood if they have too many crashes or get too many tickets."

But leaving this aside, even if (and these are San Francisco drivers mind you - arguably the worst in the country) the illegal community cab drivers were A number one the cars would still be more accidents for two reasons:
  • Drivers would be out working for more hours and thus have more accident exposure.
  • They would be working at the times when most accidents take place:
    • Morning rush hours.
    • Noon rush hours.
    • Evening rush hours.
    • Friday and Saturday nights.

 Insurance companies do not loose money. If the CPUC forced them to insure the bogus “ridesharing” services with personal liability insurance, the insurance companies would be forced to raise the rates for everybody else in order to stay profitable.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Note - There have been some excellent arguments made on behalf of taxi drivers and the taxi industry at the CPUC hearings on "Rulemaking on Regulations Relating to Passenger Carriers, Ridesharing and New Online Transportation Services (NOETS)." In honor of these efforts I'm discarding my usual egotism and will be running some of them in my blog. This one is from Barry Korengold of the SFCDA. 

Opening Comments:

The San Francisco Cab Drivers Association (SFCDA) would like to register our strong objection to the biased and predetermined manner in which this proceeding is being conducted.  The stated goal of this proceeding was “to ensure that the law and the Commission’s safety oversight reflect the current state of the industry and these regulations are just and fair for all passenger carriers.”  Yet before the first round of comments to this proceeding were submitted or reviewed, the commission suspended its $20,000 citations and cease and desist orders to Uber and Lyft, giving both companies the go ahead to continue operating and advertising full steam ahead, regardless of existing law.  This action has allowed these companies to continue building their customer base at an rapidly expanded level, unfairly competing with law abiding taxicabs and charter party passenger carriers.  (Appendix A and B)

In taking this action, the Commission has ignored or neglected to consider the comments submitted by the Personal Insurance Federation of California which state clearly that vehicles operating for companies such as Lyft or Sidecar would not be covered by personal insurance policies, as they clearly operate on a “for profit” basis and are not “rideshare” services as defined in California Public Utilities Code Section 5353(h).  (Appendix C)
This action also ignores what the SFCDA pointed out in our initial comments, including the fact that although no “time based determination” may be cited in California Public Utilities Code Section 5360.5, it clearly states that charter party carriers of passengers shall operate on a prearranged basis, and that “prearranged basis” means transportation must be arranged by written contract or by telephone.  (Appendix D) At the time this was written, this was enough to ensure the intention of this law, which is the requirement of prearrangement.  Uber is now conflating the meaning of “by telephone” in this context, as being the same as “by smartphone”, which is actually a computer, with more processing power than was used by NASA to land a man on the moon.  

The use of a smartphone, which uses GPS and other technology that didn’t exist when this law was written, allows one to virtually see a vehicle around the corner or down the street and “hail” it for “on demand service”.  As we’ve already pointed out, Uber’s website even states their service is now “exclusively on demand”.  (Appendix E)  Given this context and the advancement of modern technology, we believe that in order to preserve the concept of prearrangement in the smartphone era, additional terminology specifying a minimum prearrangement time window is necessary.  We recommend a 30 to 60 minute advanced order requirement.

Thus far, the Commission has rewarded these rogue operations for defying the law.  It has become clear to those forced by necessity to participate in this proceeding that the outcome has been predetermined from the onset.

Should NOETS be regulated as taxicabs?

Absolutely.  As NOETS have been and continue operating as de facto taxicabs, they need to be regulated as such.  It is untenable to have different taxicabs, providing the same service, regulated by different entities and playing by different rules, simply because they label themselves something different.

The claim that NOETS such as Lyft and Sidecar are “rideshares” is completely false.  Whether the payment for rides are called “donations” or not, they are clearly “for profit” enterprises which provide taxi service. (Appendix F)  They are not merely providing transportation between home and work locations, nor to a destination incidental to another purpose of the driver, as specified in CPU Code 5353(h).

Lyft and Sidecar drivers spend hours on the road for no other reason than to pick up passengers and take them wherever they want for monetary compensation.  This behavior is encouraged and promoted actively by Lyft and Sidecar, despite contradictory claims to this commission.  These NOETS are not just “software companies” facilitating communication between individual drivers and people needing rides.  

Not only do they provide the means for payment and scheduling to these drivers, Lyft frequently hosts “Lyft Driver Hangouts” organized via a private Facebook page.  We have witnessed some of these “Hangouts” at SOMA Street Food and Mel’s Diner.  They even provide incentives to drivers who work during traditionally high taxi demand hours.  Unfortunately, since these are private pages, only registered drivers of these services are granted access to these pages.  

We have been able to obtain screenshots of some internal Lyft driver pages however, which mention these “Hangouts”. They also demonstrate these incentives and that drivers are working up to ten hour shifts. (Appendix G)

Other posts from Lyft drivers clearly indicate they see themselves as taxis and working “slow shifts”.  (Appendix H)

I personally had a passenger inform me that a Lyft driver told her she was able to quit her previous job now that she was driving for Lyft.  There are also these comments from Lyfts internal Facebook page: (Appendix I)

The suggested donation is not truly a donation, as there is a “suggested” amount, which does not just cover the cost of gas, bridge tolls and minor wear and tear of the vehicle.  Their suggested “donation” rates are clearly comparable to city regulated taxi fares, as demonstrated by this twitter from a Lyft administrator. (Appendix J)  The mere suggestions of these rates create substantial “peer” pressure to “donate”.  In fact, Lyft drivers are able to selectively avoid passengers who do not wish to “donate” enough. (Appendix K)

If a passenger neglects to actively input any payment amount to Sidecar, their credit card is automatically charged the “suggested donation”. (Appendix L)

Sidecar has also gone as far as providing a “heat map” of where potential taxi passengers are. (Appendix M)  

These drivers are unfairly competing with highly regulated and city permitted taxi drivers by not having to follow the same regulations and standards.  They are not required to carry the same insurance coverage, undergo the same level of background checks or partake in any required training.  Their vehicles are not required the same inspections or quality standards, they do not charge city standardized metered rates, nor do they follow any of the city’s Transportation Codes.

Public Safety:

As with most occupations, those who have not driven a cab for a length of time do not understand or appreciate the skills required to do it well.  Although most people can drive, a career driver who is on the road eight to ten hours a day, year after year, is a much safer driver than one who is not.  A professional driver is more skilled at hazard avoidance, knowledge of traffic laws and dealing with distractions, such as unruly and/or intoxicated passengers.  It is in the interest of public safety for cab driving to be a profession that retains skilled, knowledgeable career drivers, rather than one with low standards that attracts temporary workers with little to no experience spending their whole day on the road in city traffic.

If there are too many drivers vying for a limited number of passengers, this becomes a public safety hazard, as drivers get frustrated and race around looking for fares, jeopardizing pedestrians, bicyclists and other users of public rights of way.

Good drivers eventually quit and the quality of driver goes down.  If this happens, safety and service deteriorates even further for those who need it most (e.g., senior citizens and the disabled).

Should NOETS be regulated as passenger charter-party carriers?

No.  The CPUC does not have enough enforcement officers to ensure compliance and charter-party passenger carriers should only operate on a pre-arranged basis or they are essentially taxicabs.  Uber black car livery service should be regulated as a charter-party passenger carrier provided they are not operating on an “on demand” basis.

Public safety is better served when transportation for hire is regulated by local jurisdictions, as they have more resources for enforcement and a better ability to judge how those services should be regulated in the context of the local community.

Should NOETS represent a new transportation model requiring a Third Way regulatory approach?

No.  Taxicabs have been using smartphone apps for booking (and payments) before Uber, Sidecar, Lyft or Tickengo.  There is nothing new about using a smartphone app to hail a ride.  The NOETS are simply trying to avoid regulations required of legal taxicabs and charter-party passenger carriers.

If any new regulations were to be applied to NOETS operating as rideshares, the driver should have to post their intended destination with a departure time.  No more than the Internal Revenue Service business mileage standard plus any bridge tolls, divided by the number of passengers and driver, should be collected to cover the cost of the rideshare.  The 2013 IRS standard rate is 56.5 cents per mile. (Appendix N)

 A true rideshare should share the cost of each individual ride, not pay for the entire cost of vehicle ownership.  After all, these are personal vehicles, not primarily used for this purpose, as is a vanpool vehicle, defined in Section 5353(h).

Mitigating the costs of car ownership has been readily solved with services such as and  Lyft and Sidecar’s claims that they reduce congestion are in fact false, in that the riders that would normally take a different mode of transportation such as a taxi or mass transit are now in additional vehicles.  This causes the exact opposite effect and directly negates the positive impact of services such as Zipcar and Citycarshare.  Taxis that would normally be occupied are now driving around empty and cars that would normally be parked in a space or a driveway, are now constantly occupying transit only lanes and double-parked, either waiting for passengers or dropping them off.

Are NOETS either not subject to the CPUC’s jurisdiction, or is forbearance appropriate?

NOETS are absolutely subject to CPUC’s jurisdiction and forbearance is not appropriate, as Section 710(d) clearly does not exempt IP or VoIP’s from state or federal criminal or civil law, or any local ordinances:  

   (d) This section does not affect the enforcement of any state or federal criminal or civil law or any local ordinances of general applicability, including, but not limited to, consumer protection and unfair or deceptive trade practice laws or ordinances, that apply to the conduct of business, the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code), local utility user taxes, and state and local authority governing the use and management of the public rights-of-way.

The CPUC should determine that the NOETS must either conform to existing state regulations regarding charter party carrier or be subject to local regulations regarding taxis.  If they are to fall under ride-sharing as defined by CPUC code they must be limited to having a destination entered into the app prior to accepting passengers with a similar destination.

By extension, it would not be legal to sell drugs or run a prostitution ring because you use a smartphone app.  Those who transport passengers for hire over the public highways must still comply with governing laws, smartphone app or not.

For Appendices click on Read more.

Friday, April 5, 2013

SFO Serves Cease-And-Desist Orders to Lyft, Sidecar and Instant Cab: SFMTA to Put on 8 to 12 More Inspectors

The SMTA has committed to hiring eight to twelve more inspectors to join Mike Harris and Eric Richholt (photo). Two of them will be starting within the next two weeks. Mike has been recovering from an illness so Eric has been the only inspector that Taxi Services has had for the last six months.

The MTA has been a little slow on the uptake but they are to be commended for finally taking action. Kudos.

The San Francisco Airport Cracks Down on Fake Ride-Sharing Companies.

Just passing on the news since I haven't done the legwork myself. Here is the link to the Tech Crunch article.

In addition, a news source has finally come out with a piece against the characters who run Lyft and Sidecar ... well, at least the Bay Guardian sees the companies for what they are. Maybe in the next post, the paper will let their readers know that John Zimmer and Sunil Paul are telling their drivers and riders that Lyft and Sidecar's vehicles are insured when they are not.  Here is the link to the Bay Guardian.

BTW - I came in late from Las Vegas last Wednesday night and waited for half an hour for a friend to pick me up at Southwest - the first terminal at SFO. While I stood there, five old Toyotas or Hondas came by one at a time and pulled up in front of me. Each driver held a cell phone while he studied a GPS map on the dash with a baffled look on his face. After a few minutes each drove on. Apparently none of them had had the smarts to look up where the various terminals were before they left the city.

On the other hand, there were no Lyfts. Maybe the drivers take off the mustaches before they go to the airport. In any case, these clowns should make fat targets for Taxi Service inspectors. They certainly are not hard to spot.


You can read the CBS report on SFO's Cease and Desist letters at this link.

SFO spokesman Doug Yakel is quoted as saying:

“We’re certainly open to new business concepts, but we want to apply the same standard to all businesses that operate here at SFO and that requires going through the permit process.”