Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bay Cab Going Out of Business on December 1, 2013

Bay Cab is going out of business on December 1, 2013.

The company, which is owned by Roger Cardenas, has been hit with over $50,000 worth of fines by the SFMTA.

According to Taxi Services staff:

"The fines were for continuous violations of company reporting requirements and vehicle equipment problems (disconnected Paratransit equipment)."

Mr. Cardenas has agreed to go out of business as a settlement for the fines.

Bay's 109 medallion holders will have until November 1, 2013 to tell Taxi Services to which color schemes they choose to move their medallions. Because it won't be a voluntary transfer, the standard color scheme transfer fee of $611.50 will be waved. The transfers should be completed by November 29, 2013.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Correction: The SFMTA Board Tabled a GATE INCREASE Not a Meter Increase

The original title of my last post stated that the Board had tabled a Meter Increase when in fact what they tabled was a GATE INCREASE.

Those of you who have been reading me for awhile are no doubt aware that I am extremely challenged as a proof reader but this faux pas has to rank with my top screw-ups. My only excuse is that I was working late the night before publishing the post.

Director Chris Hayashi was wise enough to not propose a meter increase at this point in time. What I was critical of was her idea of proposing a Gate increase without a meter increase  – actions that should be considered a long way down the road.

I would like to add that I in no way intended to criticize Director Hayashi as a person or as Director of the MTA's Taxi Services. Even while occasionally disagreeing with this idea or that, I think her work has been stupendous and a benefit, not only to everyone in the taxi business, but to everyone in the city of San Francisco and the state of California as well.

My apologies to both my readers and Director Hayashi.

The Phantom

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

MTA Board Tables Gate Increase, OK's Cancellation Fee

The SFMTA Board under the direction of President Tom Nolan (photo) put off a proposed meter increase of $9.75 per shift but authorized dispatching services to charge a cancellation fee of up to $10 for no-goes and allowed cab drivers to charge a flat fee of up to $11 per person for shared rides. The Board also amended several sections of the transportation code with the aim of putting an end to illegal brokering.

The Gate Increase ...

... was the most hotly debated item on the agenda. Its presence there was also a little weird.

Director of Taxi Services Chris Hayashi, Dr. Dan Hara, Luxor Cab's Charles Rathbone and (maybe) Hansu Kim of Desoto spoke in favor of the item but they all stated that nobody would be raising the gates now. The reason? Taxi companies are losing drivers.

Then, why raise gates? Director Hayashi said that it was part of the process that Dr. Hara and Taxi Services had been working through and that its time was now. She said that it would give owners the flexibility to make future changes – an idea concurred with by Dr. Hara and Mr. Rathbone. Hayashi and Hara pointed out that the gates had not been raised when the meter was raised in 2011 and an increase thus was long overdue.

The Director apparently has a short memory. The reason that the gates were not increased along with the meter was hardly an oversight. It was a quid pro quo to the drivers for charging credit card fees to them instead of the the taxi companies as it had been done before. And, this deal was brokered by Director Hayashi herself.

In my opinion she deserved kudos for this. It was a job well done. The drivers were charged 5% for the credit cards. The companies ate the gate increase. My math showed that the drivers were much better off under this arrangement than they would have been if the companies had continued to pay the credit card fees and upped the gates. Many drivers didn't agree and stopped taking credits cards in protest.

Tuesday's attempt at legislation started out as another quid pro quo thought up by Director Hayashi. This time she intended to balance things up by finally giving the companies their meter increase at the same time as she removed credit card fees from the drivers by passing a fee onto the riding public.

Fine – except for the ancient wisdom that "you don't raise the price of gas during a gas war."

In the end, Hayashi understood that and nixed the idea of out of raising the drop on the meter but she somehow missed out on a few other cliques.

Raising the gates would be like throwing gasoline on the fire of the drivers' frustration and adding insult to injury from a city whose mayor has slapped cab drivers in the face by embracing illegal taxis.

I don't how the Director failed to see the despairing effect that the mere mention of a gate increase would have on the drivers at this time. Maybe she needs to broaden her circle of advisors.

In any case, several drivers, including myself, expressed our frustrations at the meeting. The general opinion was that raising the gates would chase cab drivers out of the business at an even faster rate then they are leaving now.

The SFMTA Board – especially Director Cristina Rubke and President Nolan – discussed the subject at length with Director Hayash and Dr. Hara before finally deciding to go ahead with the rest of the agenda and putting off a possible gate increase for another six months.

Wise choice.

In my humble (Ha ha – have you ever met a humble cab driver?) opinion, any gate increase should be another quid pro quo. When passengers are ready to pay an electronics fee to cover credit card charges, the companies can get their gate increase ... assuming of course that the arcane and antiquated gate system is still around.

How can this come about? How can we compete? Complicated questions? The cancellation fee is a step in the right direction. The universal app will be another. With 2,000 taxis on the same system we can start taking back the business we've lost.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The CPUC's Proposed Decision: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly – Insurance ???

Since the CPUC continues to allow Lyft, Sidecar & Uber to hide their insurance polices where the sun don't shine, the best description we have of these mystical pacts is the CPUC's own.

According to the CPUC, Lyft, Sidecar & Uber (TNC'S) currently carry $1,000,000 (one million dollars) commercial excess liability insurance policies providing per-incident coverage for incidents involving vehicles and drivers in transit or during a TNC trip.

What does this mean?

What it was supposed to mean was that the excess liability policy kicked in from the moment a TNC driver had a accepted an electronic hail until the moment they dropped their passenger or passengers off at a destination. It was assumed that the driver's personal insurance would cover the vehicle and the driver before and after the trip.

But how does it really work? I received these e–mails as a comments to my blog:

"I was was in an accident as a Lyft driver while on the clock. This is how it works. My insurance agency was informed by the other party (a taxi, ironically enough) that I was driving for Lyft. They denied all coverage - including Liability. I am now responsible for my car. Lyft is currently handling the liability (the repair of the other car). So, basically, don;t count on your personal insurance. They won't cover you. I haven't driven since."

"I was signing up to be a driver. I had my car checked and everything. For the heck of it I did some additional research which then led me to think to check with my insurance. I have State Farm and they said that my coverage wouldn't cover any incidents that occurred when I was working as a Lyft driver. They also don't offer any type of insurance to cover me in this situation. I told my contact at Lyft that I won't be covered by my insurance and that it is too risky for me. He simply said, "Okay". Needless to say, I decided not to be a driver with Lyft."


  1. Personal insurance polices do not cover the vehicles while they are working as TNC's, meaning the cars are not covered for collision and the drivers are not covered for medical.
  2. The ten insurance companies I talked to would not insure vehicles for personal insurance if they drive for Lyft et al. 
  3. This mean that the thousands of Lyft, Sidecar and Uberx vehicles on the road are basically not insured at all.
  4. Or, the customers are insured while they are riding but the driver is not.
This the is the situation as it exists now. The CPUC's "Proposed Decision" is exactly that. It is "proposed." It is not law.

In its Proposed Decision, the CPUC attempted to correct some of above problems. But did they?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Touch of Taxi History

For a change of pace this was sent to me by former driver and medallion holder Brad Newsham. Hope you find it as interesting as I did.

June 17, 2007
First Chapter
The Creation of the Taxi Man, 1907-1920

Modern cab driving stems from a grudge. In early 1907, a thirty-year-old New York businessman named Harry N. Allen became incensed when a hansom cab driver charged Allen and his lady friend five dollars for a three-quarter-mile trip from a Manhattan restaurant to his home. Angered by this vehicular extortion, Allen vowed to create a new cab service. He recalled later: "I got to brooding over this nighthawk. I made up my mind to start a service in New York and charge so-much per mile." Word of Allen's plan circulated for months in advance. First reports appeared on March 27, 1907. Interviewed forty years later, Allen recalled how he went to France to scout out reliable, improved automobiles that were superior to the American versions derided as "smoke-wagons." In Europe, he secured over eight million dollars in underwriting funds from Lazarre Weiller, a French industrialist, and Davison Lulziell, an English railroad operator. Armed with foreign capital, he obtained a full financial package from his father, Charles C. Allen, a stockbroker, and his father's friends. Additional powerful backers included publisher William Randolph Hearst and political fixer Big Tim Sullivan. The police commissioner promised "moral" support. Hearst told Allen to ignore his critics because "they'll all be riding in your cabs sooner or later."