Thursday, November 21, 2013

Finally! A Universal Dispatch

At their Tuesday 11\19\2013 meeting, the SFMTA Board unanimously approved a contract with Frias Transportation Infrastructure (FTI) to build the Electronic Taxi Access (ETA) System proposed by Taxi Services Director Christiane Hayashi.  The contract was approved over the vehement opposition of the Desoto, Luxor and Yellow cab companies.

The system is intended to provide the ability to electronically hail any licensed San Francisco taxi.  Another way to put it is that all available taxis will show up on the map of any connected smartphone app or website.

The result will effectively be the "citywide dispatch" that cab drivers have been wanting for over 30 years.

The ETA System requires data to locate available taxis when they are hailed from a smartphone app.  The contract provided for that data to be collected using FTI's On Board Device (OBD), which the companies opposed.  As a compromise to the companies, the MTA Board agreed that Taxi Services would not be authorized to install FTI's On Board Device to automatically collect such data from San Francisco taxicabs if the companies provided the data themsleves by February 1, 2014.

Details will follow.


  1. Finally it comes but with some company with huge price tag. We had tried to get a program integrated with 311 system that people without smart phones can access taxis via land lines. The price tag is under 50K and just automated system will do the jobs without any human error. At least something goes through with the cost of drivers.

  2. Ed, does this mean that cab drivers can opt out paying for the useless cab companies dispatch system? One incentive that the MTA should look into is allowing the surcharge during high demand time. Those tnc are making 2-3 times at peak time. They can make $45 from dtown to deep sunset at peak time. Customers don't care about paying more at peak time. We only make $22 and having to drive back to dtown empty. This incentive is crucial to keeping cab drivers in business and not switching.

  3. David Schneider
    Nov 19 (3 days ago)

    to bcc: me
    First a little piqued humor: Boy $6 mil is a lot of bucks. Bet if that were distributed among the real hard lifting taxi workers that could go some way to helping them pay the rent.

    As you may know the record is I pushed centralized gps dispatch consistently and repeatedly in order to serve the public in the discharge of taxi public utility law personally going out of my way to get a meeting with then Mayor Willie Brown who endorsed it in principle in a May 1997 meeting which was echoed by Mayor Newsom years later. Also with drivers getting the nearest order they make more bucks and the whole system is more efficient instead of playing cab company roulette.

    In any event, BALANCING public service and privacy rights of drivers might be enhanced by regulations creating an appropriate balance with no release of personal driver info* unless there is clear and convincing and measured need to know ... accidents and so forth.

    The SFMTA could create an office of legal inspector general to try to balance both the private and public interests here.

    dave schneider
    co-founder UTW, for info only