Friday, February 7, 2014

Town Hall Meeting: Electronic Taxi Access 1

The first Town Hall Meeting to be available online was held last Tuesday, January 28, 2014. I took in the meeting live myself but the broadcast apparently went off well except for intermittent problems with the sound. Director Christiane Hayashi thought that this was probably to due the fact that they were forced to use Wi-fi instead of being hard wired. Hayashi implied that the problems would be solved by the next meeting.

The main subject, at least for me, was Electronic Taxi Access (ETA). But before going into this I want do a brief summary of what ETA is supposed to accomplish. The proposal actually consists of two parts: One - to create a database with which to help Taxi and Accessible Services manage and regulate the cab business; Two - to offer an interface where all electronically dispatched orders can be accessed by all interested cab drivers.


The database is being created by Frias Transportation Infrastructure (FTI) using their RideIntegrity software. The information provided is intended to help regulators answer such questions as:

  • How many trips San Francisco taxis provide 
  • How much of the time a taxi is occupied and how much of the time it is empty
  • The percentage of taxi transactions paid by credit card
  • The number of miles driven during each shift
  • Which taxis are operated as affiliate leases and which are operated as gas and gates 
  • How many driver permit holders actually drive a taxi 
  • How taxi stands are utilized 
  • How often taxis pick up or drop off in bus stops 
  • The principal routes used by taxis 
  • The presence and frequency of taxis in particular neighborhoods or supervisory districts 
  • The amount of time taxis spend idle at the airport 
  • Actual greenhouse gas emissions by type of taxi vehicle, company or fleet 

Taxi Services staff had been asking the companies to provide them with the above information for awhile but, finding said companies to be less then forthcoming, they authorized FTI to install an on board device (OBD) to automatically collect the data. This lead to caterwauling on the part of various company managers who said that they could provide the data themselves. Director Hayashi said "fine" and gave them a February 1, 2014 deadline in order to prevent the OBD from being put into service.

At the Town Hall meeting, the date appeared to be pushed back to March 1, 2014 but much of the data is already being provided and Hayashi intends to have the system up and running by April 1, 2014.

One fear held by both company managers and drivers was that FTI might sell the data to third parties ala Facebook or Safeway. But Hayashi says that the information will be owned by the SFMTA not FTI and will not be sold.

Electronic Taxi Access (ETA)

I confess that I'm still a little confused about how this will work so I won't post on it until I research the ETA plan more thoroughly.

Seattle City Council plans to limit the number of TNC's and insist on proper insurance of the vehicles.

In the meantime, it looks like good news from Seattle on the faux taxi front. The Seattle City Council will vote on a plan to limit the number of TNC's to 300 and the number of hours a person can drive per week to 16. 

 "The proposed pilot program would force TNCs to cover drivers with excess liability coverage as soon as drivers are live on the company’s smartphone app. That would help prevent some of the liability confusion that has followed accidents such as the one in San Francisco, which killed 6-year-old Sofia Liu and injured her mother and 5-year-old brother."

The fact that the California Public Utilities Commission has allowed the TNC's to have insurance that does NOT cover the drivers in this situation is unconscionable and abhorrent.

Let's hope that venture capital doesn't buy the Seattle City Council like it has the CPUC.

See City panel shrinks options in rideshare pilot plan


  1. "consists of two parts: One - to create a database with which to help Taxi and Accessible Services manage and regulate the cab business; Two - to offer an interface where all electronically dispatched orders can be accessed by all interested cab drivers."
    Cab drivers need a good app, that is the equivalent of Flywheel and Marketed and promoted strongly, really don't need more rules and monitoring, Need more rules and Monitoring on the TNC's that do anything they want , such as weak and vague insurance, no video camera in car, charge and price they want, no business tax and no A card fee.

  2. San Francisco makes lots of money through it's property values, so long as low interest rates and stock market make VC firms flush, the city closes its eye to the apps , other cities don't have this same dynamic of VC people having as much influence so they can crack down easier on illegal cabs. Most of these VC firms don't make products that will ever get to market, so thats why Uber even though it essentially a gypsy cab service is so loved by them , it has some use, as opposed to most of the other junk these guys make that is useless.

  3. How does Seattle's proposed pilot program "help prevent some of the liabilty confusion..." by forcing TNCs to cover drivers with EXCESS liability coverage? This "excess" coverage still relies primarily on the drivers' personal insurance coverage, which is non-existent if the personal insurance company finds out they are using their vehicles for commercial passenger transportation.

  4. Thank you for sharing.

    It would be interesting to find out if this guy was driving for a TNC when this accident happened.
    1am near Pacific and Van Ness is an area with lots of bars and of app users, and it said car was rental, it appears that TNC drivers
    could potentially use rental cars .
    Maybe this guy is just a really bad driver in a rental car. But I am curious to see if he was doing any
    commercial activity in that car that evening.


  6. This is concise and correct: “The fact that the California Public
    Utilities Commission has allowed the TNC's to have insurance that does NOT
    cover the drivers in this situation is unconscionable and abhorrent.”

    The “decision” reached a few months ago is astonishing for allowing people
    recognized as not having insurance to remain in business. In my
    observation that members of the public react with consistent surprise that
    this is so. The public has the naïve idea that this would not be
    allowed. That is the only reason the pirates are still afloat.

    The California Department of Insurance has issued the following warning
    directly to the pirates’ drivers:

    For decades the solution the companies and the politicians have sought,
    and conditioned the public to believe is desirable, is to simply allow
    “more cabs.”

    Now at last the companies are starting to feel some of the pain we drivers
    have felt in excess for decades. Some of them perhaps even regret having
    “more cabs.” But the complaint that the companies are not filling their
    shifts means different things in different companies. The large
    companies really are just not making as much as they could. They are
    not “losing money.” As merchants they have been spoiled for decades to
    believe that there is something wrong if they do not sell out their entire
    inventory twice every single day. This means something different to a
    small company, but they should get in gear and start finding drivers.

    The problem with not filling the shifts is the result of drivers making
    too little money – this situation is far worse than mere “excess
    competition:” as a driver with 23 years experience I am now having $90 to
    $120 shifts – no one can live on this, and drivers can’t be expected to
    pursue such a job. The companies just don’t have enough drivers to hold
    to the fire.

    Speaking with San Mateo cab drivers I get the impression they are doing
    better than we in San Francisco are doing. That’s surprising
    historically, but not these days, when Uber and Lyft compete with us in
    San Francisco.

    It is greatly to be hoped that the pirates will realize they are risking
    too much, and leave the business before more serious catastrophic
    accidents occur. What they have done to honest drivers is bad enough.
    More exposure of Uber’s awful business tactics is needed; Lyft is riding
    on the coattails.

    Christopher Fulkerson

  7. The truth is that uber and lyfts are here to stay. I have been driving for twenty years and yes, it has been harder to make money. However there are still money to be made if we can all work together to provide fast and friendly service. The corrupt owners must ensure that cabs are clean and drivers are presentable and friendly. They must stop operating from their office and go out there to oberve what is actually going on out there. Please please please tickets drivers that smoke in the car and those that refuse to accept credit cards. They are the problems not the solution.
    We still have the tourists and convention people that take cab. Although we lost significant amount of local riders, we still have a good amount of local people that are still taking cabs. Let's do the right thing for them. Stop refusing short rides and trips to the avenues.
    Cab owners must unite. Universal dispatching system is now a must not option for us to compete with uber and lyfts. Cab owners must work together to negotiate a good insurance deal which will reduce costs. The universal dispatching will also reduce industry cost in the longterm. It makes no sense anymore to divide the taxi industry into so many dispatching systems. Cab owners, please wake up, change is inevitable for the industry to make it.

  8. Hi, Great post. It is a good news that Implementation of the Electronic Taxi Access (ETA) System to support the development of taxi hailing smart phone applications. It is a good option for people to access the Taxi easily. dawsoncab
    Thanks for this post.

  9. This is a very interesting idea, how good would it be if it came to fruition.

  10. Tonight was a great Wed I actually went home with 207.00 no ubers no mustaches out for some unknown reason It is to the point I do not drive for money but to be a pain in the ass for TNC's

  11. I am to the point that I drive to let the TNC's and uber people that I will not give up: I did NAM and Iraq and these fuckers are a piece of cake: I can stay behind the wheel 10 12 hrs and still make enough to get by on: I do not need a BMW or a new Mercedes to make money on the streets steve big dog city 804