Thursday, May 30, 2013

Corrections to Yesterday's Post and an Apology

I was proud of myself yesterday for getting a post out in less than three hours. 

Unfortunately, much of the information in it was not correct. I later had a conversation with Director Chris Hayashi who noted the changes below.

          1.  Dan Hara will not have his report finished by the end of the week so the MTA Board won’t discuss it until the July 16th.

2.    The most important proposal for the June 18, 2013 Board meeting will concern the legalities for the sale of medallions to drivers on the Waiting List.

Electronic Taxi Access

The anonymous commenter to yesterday’s post was partially right but Director Hayashi actually had a couple of meeting on Friday and Monday that included not only managers from Desoto, Luxor and Yellow but reps from Flywheel and Taxi Magic as well. Changes in how ETA will function will result from these meetings but these revisions will not necessarily be as nefarious as anonymous thinks.

The final formulation is still a long way off but here are some of the features or principles that ETA will include or follow:
  • ·      The orders will be offered through the PIM monitors instead of separate smart phones.
  •     Only apps like Flywheel or Taxi Magic with at least a 1,000 customers will be accepted by the system. 
  •     Yellow Cab will probably sign up with Taxi Magic.
  •      Dispatching services like City Wide Dispatch with a large number of customers will be included in the system.
  •     Dispatching services with less than 100 customers will probably be dropped.
  •     The orders from the individual apps will be integrated so that two different taxis won’t be sent to the same address.
  •     The same app company cannot dispatch both limos and taxis so the Uber’s taxi app will probably bite the dust. I’m adding the bold assumption that companies dispatching bogus “ridesharing services” will likewise not be allowed to dispatch taxis in SF. Goodbye Instant Cab. May you take your Georgia Tech degrees and do something useful (not to mention legal) with them in the future.

  A guiding principle for Flywheel and Taxi Magic is that they want “quality” drivers rather than a sheer numbers. In short, they want people who will pick up orders instead of taking a dispatched hail and then blowing it off to grab the first flag they see.

I’m also in favor of this principle. The execution, however, leaves something to be desired – at least with Flywheel. They are much too draconian. I’m being held off their service right now because their app didn’t work properly and I was forced to take cash. I was held off earlier because their GPS gave me the wrong location and I cancelled the order after I took it. When I call them up, I usually get some twenty-two year old techie who cheerfully tells me something like, “Yea – lots of you guys complain about that.”
I would hope that Director Hayashi would use the June 11th Town Hall Meeting (since it won’t covering Hara et al) for a face to face between Flywheel and Taxi Magic and their drivers. I think it’s time they re-design their software with the end users in mind.

 Finally, I'd like to apologize to President and General Manager of Luxor Cab, John Lazar, for calling him a dinosaur yesterday. He's clearly more in tune with the future than I gave him credit for. Indeed, he's making it. Sorry Mr. Lazar.


  1. Random notes didn't the city say it hired a company called Frias Transportation out of Las Vegas I can't find that document on their website now, and taxi magic had about a million dollars of funding from Luxor cab?
    So is Frias still in the game of helping to produce an app?

    1. Where the hell would Luxor get a million dollars to fund Taxi Magic? The way Lazar has structured things so that his brokers are running large numbers of formerly profitable gas and gates cabs the company itself must be barely making it. Of course he could be not paying for workers comp on the color scheme"cabs even though he collects for it. He was already caught doing that once.

  2. I'm not a software engineer so I don't know if I'll explain it properly but Frias is developing the architecture or the structure that will link the information from apps like Taxi Magic and Flywheel so that it came be used by taxi companies, drivers and the public.

    I spoke to Frias' software engineer yesterday about giving me an interview but he said that the final goal was too much up in the air for him to be able to explain very much. But Frias is definitely the main creator of whatever will be created. They won the contract to develop the system.

    The Phantom

    1. Your cool thanks I think I get the gist of what you are trying to convey , it sounds positive what is happening..

  3. It is a step on the right direction to unify all dispatching in one place. I hope the PIMs you are talking about actually "work" and don't freeze. Yellow today uses a third-rate (ask anyone who uses it) cheap android tablet that freezes while running a credit card, calling the customer, accepting a call. Yellow's answer to these day to day problems shows their disregard for drivers. The IT guy who runs the show washes his hands, blames the vendor, blames wi-fi, blames the get the picture. Drivers are stuck re-booting and rebooting the cheap tablet, while being charged "full gate".

    So. one can only hope that the new PIMS will work as they are intended to do and that some credible testing takes place. Else, they will be blaming the vendor and back to the future then.

  4. Ed,
    Do you know more about the legalities for the sale of medallions to drivers on the Waiting List? I must be way out of the loop. I never heard anything about this but a rumor that Mr. Gruberg filed a suit against the city at some point. Does this have something to do with that, or am I misreading the topic. I hope you can elaborate.

    1. I was thinking same thing , something weird going on here no doubt...maybe something big?

  5. meanwhile:

    Lyft Gets $60M Investment For More Pink Mustaches

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. As for the legalities, this probably was a bad choice of words. 120 taxis are going to be sold to the top 120 people on the list for $125,000. There are a few minor legal technicalities that need to be clarified before these sales can take place. I emphasize "MINOR." The sales are going through.

    This has nothing to do with a Gruberg suit - at least not as far as I know.


  8. Thanks for that clarification. Keep up the great reporting. If we could just get the taxi drivers to band together as one political force. And get the medallion holders to contribute 5% of their monthly lease fees to a legal and lobbying fund, we could start on political players (the Mayor obviously not included as he has made it clear where he stands) to help us. Uber and Lyft are nothing more than bullies who mobilize their workers and customers to flood politicians with petitions when things don't go their way. We need to do the same? We need a strong leader with support from all the interested parties in the taxi industry outside of the SFMTA.

  9. If they are disqualifying apps that dispatch limos, then Taxi Magic will be disqualified too, for they are the ones behind Sedan Magic. The Flywheel CEO meanwhile, has gone on the record stating they have a pilot program that includes "all kinds of vehicles" including shuttles and town cars.

    "Humphreys says the company’s aspirations are beyond cabs and it wants to provide services for all types of vehicles, including shuttles, town cars, and pedicabs — all of which are currently in pilot programs."

  10. Thank you for so many valuable information. Keep up the excellent work.