Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Taxi Myopia Blues

I offer this photo as a balm to those who've taken umbrage at my comparing San Francisco taxicab company owners to dinosaurs. I think this analogy is more accurate. Besides, it also applies to many cab drivers (far too many) as well.

Let start with the owners.

One could write a fat, non-fiction novel on the short-sightedness and petty greed of the people running S.F. cab companies – especially Yellow and Luxor. But for this article, I'll restrict myself to their opposition to an universal app or Open Taxi Access (OTA).

When John Wolpert first introduced Cabulous in 2010, it should have been obvious to anyone with an entact frontal lobe that, if adapted throughout the taxicab fleet, the app had the potential to both drastically improve service to the neighborhoods and create business for the drivers.

However, better cab service and increased driver income never have been primary motivations for John Lazar of Luxor cab and Nat Dwiri of Yellow. They've made their money by collecting medallions, leasing taxis and squeezing their drivers for every cent they could get. When Chris Hayashi talked the SFMTA Board into granting $405,000 for the development of OTA in April 2011, Luxor and Yellow helped kill the plan.  By doing so they set back the development of an universal app (what Flywheel has become) for at least one year, possibly two.

If taxis been giving the kind of service to the neighborhoods one or two years ago that we are beginning to give now, Uber and the other shits would have taken far less of our market share.

Lazar appears to be seeing a little of the light and is beginning to use Flywheel but Yellow continues to act like it's 1986. As recently as a year ago Dwiri was still claiming that the city needed more cabs not a universal app. Well ... he got more cabs. Now all he needs to do is find people to drive them. And, Jim Gillespie of Yellow has had that company develop its own app to go up against Flywheel.

Divide and conquer, huh, Jim?

Next: Myopic Cab Driver Blues


  1. Could not have said better myself!!! If you need more profit as a cab company you need more medallions not more efficiency in the way you deliver your product. So keep it inefficient and cry for more cabs. At the Tuesday managers meeting I once said: "When a guy comes in today and pays his gate it will be the same gate if he went home and slept or picked up 200 fares." That was not met with applause
    One begins to see why I don't get invited to Yellow's golf outing or Xmas party. I actually got invited at Xmas once when they foolishly let me join the now defunct Taxi Assn. They needed my money for Nate's friends that were running for office and never won. They later kicked me out cuz I told the Taxi Comm. I knew for a fact that National and it's Lawyer were liars when they said he worked in the office and therefore deserved his medallion. It took the City eight more years to get it away from him and into the hands of a deserving driver.
    I do not give myself high grades for looking forward but I'm an old man, spent half my 70 years in the cab biz like many, get stuck in our ways.

  2. Heard you were moving to China and saying goodbye to taxi. What happened?

  3. I think I'm moving to Mexico instead ... In the meantime, the human comedy unfolds.

    1. Baja? I'm helping my mother build an art gallery in Todos Santos.

  4. Oaxaca to start but send me the address at my e-mail. Amazincrocker@gmail.com. I like Baja.

  5. No matter what the cab companies trying, they shot themselves in their own foot. Yellow developed the app but it is not so great and a lot of flaws in the system. A cab company still say they need more cabs to fill the orders and I am wondering if those people ever get on the road and drive? I had 9 no shows in 4 hours and 15 no shows on a Saturday night doesn't count? So many no shows and a lot of calls are from a high school or a park or may be an empty lot, unoccupied buildings and the address don't exist. Cabs are chasing the orders don't exist and the people waiting don't have patient to wait so use the other bandits. The cab company management don't care about that much because it doesn't hurt them but the drivers lost time and money.
    But the voice is still echoing "We need more cabs!!" and we don't have driver.

    1. May be the competition( app drivers ) is placing fake orders, just to discourage the cab drivers and cab companies.

  6. @Yellow the scene is surreal. It goes like this. Jim Gillespie is afraid of "George" who developed all the IT systems infrastructure @Yellow. There is no documentation of these processes. So the info is on his head. He doesn't even work there. He goes in as he pleases. He takes at least $200K a year. When the systems don't work (almost every other day). He blames the "dumb" drivers or dispatchers or cashiers or admin or anybody else by saying they don't know how they use the system. He gets away with it too.

    Who is this George ? none other than Nate Dwiri sidekick. Batman and Robin. Get the picture ? They have a consulting company that of course serves Yellow and other cab companies in the northwest.

    Jim is a weak manager, who dresses up everyday and no hair is out of place. As the top brass, we can lie the future demise of his share of the taxi pie at his feet. The other managers like Richie, well they drink the same kool-aid. It is the cab-plantation biz model.

    The taxi industry is in the MEDALLION/GATE business. Let's not forget this obvious fact. Therein lies the problem. We are better off scrapping it. The poor souls who borrowed money to buy the soon to be worthless medallions got stuck with the bill or maybe the credit unions who financed them can erase the debt. But the rest of drivers can leave the plantation, get their cars, maintain them, clean them and get an app (over 100 at the app store) and run with it.

    1. seems like everything is designed to hit the driver with a stick.

  7. The ratings systems are unacceptable, they are simply not humane treatment
    of human beings. This is succeeding in our industry only because
    mistreatment of drivers is so second nature to so many people. And this
    in turn is because the cab drivers throughout America have, generally and
    for four decades, been a scab labor force. The cab drivers have been an
    abject work force for so long that their situation is now treated as
    normative, and is even being undercut, and even more scabrous methods are
    being employed.

    With its methods Flywheel is cherry-picking drivers to get around the
    problem of quality control of occasionally ill-behaving drivers. But
    this behavior is encouraged by the independent contractor status of
    drivers. The companies WANT to allow overmuch freedom of the drivers, in
    order to maintain the appearance that drivers are not employees. We have
    so much blessed freedom. If they managed the drivers, there would be
    better behavior.

    Over and over, the cab companies have created problems, and the City
    authorities have failed to enforce the regulations that were needed. The
    cab companies created the service gap that Uber and Lyft fill, by allowing
    dispatch to remain at a post-World War Two technological level. The cab
    companies are required by law to provide dispatch, but the most
    unacceptably low standards of technology, or the worst possible servicing
    of computer technology, have permitted the cab companies to maintain the
    illusion that more cabs is the solution to perceived service problems.

    The City has failed to enforce even the LETTER of the law, and several of
    the radio dispatch companies are known to be completely flawed but are
    allowed to stay in business. And the City has failed to enforce the
    SPIRIT of the law, which is that we call a service by its industry
    standard, not merely whatever trashy quality product is easy to provide.

    If the City of San Francisco had enforced the law that cab companies
    THE TNCs.

    Christopher Fulkerson, PH.D.

  8. I think your comments to the media about the taxi industry will be gone is bull shit and you are a fucking traitor to the industry go ahead and become a fucking ride share that is where you belong asshole

  9. ou talkin' to me? You talkin' t to me?

    I'm not saying that the taxi industry will be gone. I'm saying that if certain owners and drivers don't change their acts – and soon, there won't be much of a business left.

    As for me becoming a rideshare – you haven't been paying attention. I'm not going to drive a cab that's not insured and I'd work for Putin before I'd work for Uber.

    The Phantom