Friday, December 2, 2011

Deposits collected from taxi companies

Yesterday, though I was ill I walked over to city hall, SFMTA, and phoned the city attorneys office. I was told by Charles Bolton who works in Supervisor Jane Kims Office that he would call me back today. Surprise no call back from the Supervisors office regarding my issue, that I share with many in the taxi industry. I did leave a message at her office. I will let you know if I get a call in the future, but I can tell you it has been my experience that I am waiting for calls back from previous issues I brought to her office since she was elected.

I did however get an email back from the SFMTA investigator assigned to the case today. I will share it later.

Otherwise I have not heard back from Chris Hyashi regarding the obnoxious smelling cabs at National Cab Company.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Is it Illegal for taxi companies to collect deposits from drivers, and is there any enforcement.

On Wednesday November 30th, 2011, I sent an email over to the MTA Board of directors, Chris Hyashi Associate director of taxi services at SFMTA, The email was as follows:
I am seeking my 500.00 deposit back to me that I was forced to pay when I started working for National Cab Company in 2008. I would also like to see National Cab Company ordered to stop collecting Deposits from their drivers prior to start working. National cab company forces drivers to pay 5.00 per shift until they reach the 500.00 for a deposit. I paid this deposit and when I was fired after letting the general manager Jesus Portillo and Dan Hinds know that I have restrictions and became temporarily disabled because of a car accident that happened while I was driving a cab, they refused to give my 500.00 dollar deposit back to me.

I looked further into this matter and found that there was a court case in 1996 that prohibits cab companies in San Francisco in collecting a deposit from there drivers.

The 1996 ruling in Joseph Tracy vs. Yellow Cab barred cab companies from demanding security deposits from drivers. The order, issued by Judge William Cahill of the San Francisco Superior Court, "permanently enjoins the defendant [Yellow Cab], from classifying plaintiffs and similarly situated drivers as independent contractors for purpose of denying such drivers any benefit under California law with respect to workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, and paying a cash bond to defendants as a condition of driving a taxicab."

In addition National Cab Company refused to give me information and submit a claim to their Workers Compensation Carrier in 2009 and 2010 after accidents that were not my fault. There is a pattern where National Cab Company Dispatchers tells drivers that if they file a Workers Compensation Claim they will be fired! Workers Compensation information is not provided where it is accessible to the driver, and when you ask the company tells you that they do not have workers compensation.

Please advise if you can assist with what I consider a serious matter of workers compensation and unlawfully collecting deposits from drivers.

Today December 1st I decided to go over to city hall to find out who may help with this issue.

The first stop was at Supervisor Jane Kims Office. What a change when I walked through the front door. Everything looked so organized and nothing was hanging on the walls. I spoke with Charles Bolton who seemed very knowledgeable and willing to assist with this matter. He assured me he would make a call over to the SFMTA, I will be checking back Friday to see if that was done.

After I left Jane Kims office I walked over to the Mayor Ed Lees office and spoke with one of the desk clerks, who metioned I should go to the city attorneys office.

I did make it over to the city attorneys office where I was met with a friendly receptionist and knowledgeable too. I was placed in contact with Mariam Morley at the city attorneys office. I had a very interesting conversation with her over the phone. This is one of the reasons I found San Francisco a wonderful city for about 12 years now. People were friendly and helpful.

I then went over to the SFMTA and met with Eric Richholt, investigator for taxi services. He mentioned the issue had already been sent over to him. Eric and I spoke for a little while then he brought me to the class where Chris Hyashi was working with of new drivers and retraining. I had a brief moment to speak to her. I expressed once again to her about the deposits, odors and smells that are damaging to the drivers health by a lack of maintenance to the taxi vehicles.

The poor taxi drivers are low income individuals where every penny counts. Taxi drivers in San Francisco are under represented but yet millions are extracted from their pockets yearly through permits, fines, and tactics from cab companies.

Dean Clark
If you have anything you want to speak to me about regarding this issue please call me at
Phone 415-240-2433

1996 ruling in Joseph Tracy vs. Yellow Cab

The 1996 ruling in Joseph Tracy vs. Yellow Cab barred cab companies from demanding security deposits from drivers. The order, issued by Judge William Cahill of the San Francisco Superior Court, "permanently enjoins the defendant [Yellow Cab], from classifying plaintiffs and similarly situated drivers as independent contractors for purpose of denying such drivers any benefit under California law with respect to workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, and paying a cash bond to defendants as a condition of driving a taxicab."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Order Taxis from your iPhone or Android phone.

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While we do our best to make sure that we send you Drivers with a good reputation & legitimate credentials, think safety first and don't get into a car if you have reasons to think the cab company or the driver are not legitimate (e.g. the car doesn't have proper markings).

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About Bounties

What is a Bounty?

A bounty is a reward for the driver who picks you up within 10 mins of your order. Use bounties to jump the lines when taxis get busy on Sat & Fri nights!

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The amount is typically $10 to $20 depending on location and time.

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Does a Bounty count as Tip?

If you're happy with the service provided, you should still pay a tip on top of the fare as you normally would. The Bounty compensates the driver for driving on empty to come pick you up, and the s/he will still be expecting a tip for good service.

What happens if I cancel a fare?

If a driver has already accepted the fare, we notify the driver of your cancellation immediately. Note that if you cancel a Bounty fare before the timer is expired, the Bounty will be paid out to the driver to compensate for his time and your PayPal account will be charged accordingly.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

MTA Board approved the two taxi items on its agenda

Yesterday, the MTA Board approved the two taxi items on its agenda: an additional 40 cents on the flag drop, and 87 more cabs. As a result, a meter increase bringing the flag drop to $3.50 and the distance and waiting time to 55 cents a click should go into effect around the beginning of September. The new cabs will probably take longer, especially if there is an appeal to the Board of Appeals (which seems likely).
The cab decision was exactly as had been proposed: 25 full-time medallions to the list; 10 full-time medallions to be sold directly by the MTA; a trial program for 50 single-operator permits (which could, however, have two operators); and aqn experiment with 2 battery-switchable electric vehicles.
Cab companies were out in force opposing the proposal for more cabs. Not that they were trying to save their drivers from added competition -- quite the contrary. Yellow, Luxor and DeSoto management have been pushing for 500 more cabs, with the permits going to companies rather than drivers. They want to kill single-operator permits because they can't make money from them, and because the SOPs (?) stand in the way of the corporate medallions companies want.
In my mind, these part-time permits are far preferable to full-time medallions. They'll be on the streets only about 1/3 the time, so they won't be hurting drivers during the slowest hours. There are some controversial aspects to the idea, however. The permits are to go to the most senior drivers in the industry, circumventing the list. The hours of operation will be flexible, which will best serve the public, but enforcement may be a problem. Retirement for permit holders is an open question. And, most ominously, a monthly lease fee will be charged for the permits. The fee can be reduced or eliminated by taking dispatched orders, but it sets a bad precedent, and creates a swamp of micro-regulation where the MTA is going to have to count every dispatch call these cabs take (or, more likely, rely on someone else's count). Nonetheless, I still believe this is better than hundreds of full-time permits in company hands. It's a trial program, so if parts of it turn out to be unfair or unworkable, they could be changed. And if the whole idea turns out to be a bust, it will go away.
Also ominous is the direct sale of 10 medallions by the MTA. At $250,000 apiece, the agency will pocket $2,375,000, with the balance of $125,000 going to the Driver Fund. This is a brand new source of revenue for the MTA. Up to now, the agency has directly sold only existing medallions returned to it after death or revocation. In light of the MTA's chronic financial problems, these 10 new medallions are only a hint of what is likely to come -- unless we do something about it, which we must. The MTA has a conflict of interest between its regulatory duties and its financial interests that cannot be allowed to stand.
Although the hearing lasted over an hour, driver turnout was not as robust as at previous meetings. It seemed that about half the public speakers were from cab companies. Maybe fatigue has set in.
The vote of the Board approving the cab proposal was 6-1. The "no" vote was cast by former Taxi Commissioner Bruce Oka. It appears the cab companies convinced him to take their side.
MTA staff did not discuss credit cards or electronic waybills at the meeting.
Mark Gruberg
United Taxicab Workers

Friday, August 5, 2011

Support Taxi Drivers Pin - San Francisco Taxi Advocate

Support Taxi Drivers Pin - San Francisco Taxi Advocate

Thursday, July 14, 2011

This is Rich: The SFMTA Would Like Your 'Feedback' In Re: Nat Ford's Replacement

This is Rich: The SFMTA Would Like Your 'Feedback' In Re: Nat Ford's Replacement

muni-mess-t-shirt.jpg Former Muni executive director Nat Ford has finally left the building with his $384,000 golden parachute, and with this news we were both relieved and disgusted. Debra Johnson, meanwhile, who was formerly Director of Administration, Taxis and Accessible Services, is serving as interim executive director until a new hire is made by the SFMTA board, on a schedule they've yet to announce. But, trying to play nice given what horrible press they've gotten — and given, ahem, what a majorly mismanaged organization they are with trains that have a penchant for breaking down during rush hour a couple of times a week — they're seeking some public commentary at this time. In other words, you now have a chance to make your opinions heard, via a handy online survey, about who they should hire as the next person to direct the agency and incur our wrath.

The survey is here. It's entirely unclear how big an impact this survey will have or whether this is just them going through the motions before appointing Ed Reiskin to the job. And we just started taking the survey and we're already unleashing our anger in the write-in, "Other" option on the first question, which is "In your opinion, what is the single most important task for the new ED/CEO?", with choice A being "Maintain quality service."

To which we angrily reply, in D) Other : How can one "maintain quality service" when current service is so infrequently of any "quality." How about creating a higher standard of quality service, improving on-time performance, and eventually reaching that 85% on-time goal??

Yeah, anyway, it's better than attending a public meeting. Those things are horrible.

Mayor Outlines SFMTA Chief Qualifications as List of Candidates Narrows

Mayor Outlines SFMTA Chief Qualifications as List of Candidates Narrows

Mayor Lee on SFGov TV during question and answer time yesterday.

The future CEO and executive director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) should be a visionary who can focus on implementing a labor agreement with transit operators, improve Muni reliability, make more taxis available, focus on pedestrian safety and expand bike facilities, Mayor Ed Lee told the Board of Supervisors yesterday.

“There is not just one person that can lead the MTA. It’s got to be a very dedicated team. I also want to make sure that the person exhibits a high level of collaboration,” Lee said during question and answer time. He was responding to a question from District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu.

Lee’s mention of Muni centered around meeting on-time performance, a feat that has seemed impossible since San Francisco voters first passed the 85 percent on-time mandate in 1999. He mentioned the labor agreement first and reliability and on-time performance second.

“Even the on-time performance is not just Muni alone. There are so many other entities that affect the streets,” he said. “We also want to make sure that someone has the ability and the willingness to…build relationships with everybody and strong relationships with its own workforce.”

This week, SFMTA Chair Tom Nolan, who has said that he would prefer someone local, began sifting through the resumes of more than 30 people who have applied for the job since the agency begin accepting applications three weeks ago. Ed Reiskin, the head of the Department of Public Works, is seen as the inside favorite, but sources told Streetsblog that Transportation Authority Executive Director José Luis Moscovich, SFMTA Transit Director John Haley and Acting SFMTA Chief Debra Johnson have also applied for the job.

The SFMTA Board is charged with naming the head of the agency, but no doubt the Mayor will exercise significant influence. Nolan told Streetsblog that directors have given him the authority to narrow the list of candidates, and he expects that up to four top picks will be interviewed in closed session at the board’s regular meeting Tuesday. However, Nolan said directors will not vote on a candidate at that time, but would aim to have someone in place by September 1.

“We have to do some kind of background checks on people, especially if we don’t know the person, and also references. And then there’s the matter of negotiations. We might pick someone who we think is just wonderful and that person might have a different idea of what the compensation should be,” said Nolan, who predicted the salary “won’t be cheap,” and should be comparable to what transit directors are making at other agencies.

SFDPW Chief Ed Reiskin is seen as the inside favorite to head the SFMTA. Photo: San Francisco Water

Former CEO Nat Ford, who was asked to leave the agency July 1 after a five-year stint, was among the city’s highest-paid employees, earning more than $300,000 a year. He was given a $384,000 severance package, which was blasted as a golden parachute by several critics, including State Senator and mayoral candidate Leland Yee.

The speedy process of picking Ford’s replacement has drawn scrutiny from Supervisor John Avalos, who feels things are moving too quickly. In an interview with Streetsblog, Avalos said there should be a more robust public discussion about what kind of person “we want to see in there.” He thinks Reiskin is a “great public servant” but that other candidates should be given serious consideration.

“I don’t just want him to be considered as the heir apparent. I think there should be a process and it should be a thorough process and one that is at the national level,” Avalos said. “I’m not sure we’re giving it enough time to make that happen.”

Nolan said he is consulting with several transit advocates and community groups, and has asked for feedback from a broad spectrum of people, including Avalos and his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors.

“We’ve invited all kinds of stakeholders to tell us what they think. We’ve sent out a fairly elaborate questionnaire to all MTA employees, to a number of the interest groups,” including the San Francisco Bike Coalition, Walk SF, disabled and senior groups, and others, said Nolan. There’s also an online “employee and stakeholder survey.”

District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener said given the uncertainty at the SFMTA, it was better that the board make a decision as soon as possible.

“I’m not saying rush at the expense of having the best candidate you can have, but I think there are a number of very good candidates that have surfaced and in my view the sooner the better,” he said.

A taxi driver was robbed at knifepoint

A taxi driver was robbed at knifepoint in San Francisco's Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood early this morning, police said.

The robbery occurred shortly before 1:50 a.m. near the intersection of Sutter and Baker streets.

The driver, a 70-year-old man, had picked up the suspect and driven him to that intersection, according to police.

When they arrived there, the suspect pulled out a knife, put it to the driver's throat and demanded money, police said.

The victim complied, and the suspect, described only as a man in his 50s, got out of the cab and fled with the cash, according to police.

The taxi driver was not injured in the robbery.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

Sunday, June 5, 2011

San Francisco Taxi Driver Ripped off by Ramp Taxi Class

I went to a Taxi Ramp School held by Cheryl from Damico Consulting on June 4th, 2011.

I was told in advance that the class would be from 12:00 noon until 4:00 p.m. which I stayed the whole period of time. I also paid a 75.00 fee for the class when I first got to class. I needed this class for employment purposes. At the end of the class a final exam was given to each student. I finished the exam. I asked Cheryl what to do because I had to go to work. Cheryl and her assistant said that I would have to stay even though the class is over. I waited until almost 4:20 (Twenty Minutes after the class ended) and just had to go work, I have a family to feed. I handed my exam to Harold Miller who was taking the class at the same time as I.

About 5:00 p.m. I called and spoke with Harold and asked him if I passed the San Francisco Ramp Taxi Class, he told me no. I called to speak to Cheryl the instructor about the exam and the class. Cheryl told me that she would not grade my exam although I stayed the expected time and paid the 75.00 for the certificate and class. Cheryl was rude to me on the phone and said she did not have time to speak to me about this issue. Cheryl than handed over the phone to her assistant, I could hear her and her assistant in the back ground. The assistant said he does not want to talk to me and called me a MORON. Very unprofessional. Cheryl got back on the phone than offered I could come back to the class and "do her" for 25.00 dollars, or if I wanted I could come back at 11:00 a.m. but it would cost me more. Cheryl spoke with Syam the person I was going to work for and told my potential employer I have an attitude problem.

I am very frustrated speaking with Cheryl, and feel like she only wants more money from me. We had a problem like this in the industry once before in San Francisco with another instructor for taxis. He ended up in jail and indicted on fraud charges. I wish some government agency would assist the cab drivers in San Francisco from this type of unscrupulous activity. Please help with this issue.

As for the class itself, I am a credentialed teacher in the State of California by the way and drive taxi to supplement my income because my spouse is out of work. The content of the class was great and I learned a lot.

Cheryl did not have a class room policy sheet nor nothing hanging up on the walls, No agenda was provided for the students, and no class expectations or check list of things you must complete for the class. If Cheryl would have had these things there would have been no misunderstanding of what needs to be done in class. I am concerned that I am being penalized when I really needed to start work with Syam for something that is out of my control. I simply want my certificate that I feel I earned.

I was at the class for 4 1/2 hours, did the practical application part and completed the final exam. I would like a certificate from Cheryl Damico:

Damico Consulting & Training

1405 Birchwood Ct
San Francisco, CA
941 34
(415) 333-6965

A photo of Cheryl who teaches the class:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Notice is hereby given that the SFMTA Board will consider whether to issue up to 125 taxi permits (medallions),

Per Transportation Code Section 1115 and 1121, Notice is hereby given that the SFMTA Board will consider whether to issue up to 125 taxi permits (medallions), which may be designated as any combination of electric taxi vehicle permits, part-time permits, peak time permits, single operator permits, full-time transferable medallions or full-time non-transferable medallions, at its regular meeting of June 21, 2011.

Mark Gruberg


Wednesday June 1st, Monday June 6th, Wednesday June 8th 1-4 and 6-9 PM, at 1 S. Van Ness 2nd floor.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A lot of the cab drivers want to be separated from the SFMTA

In response to the article in the Examiner:

Dr Gonzo you are correct. A lot of the cab drivers want to be separated from the SFMTA, we can not achieve this without public support. Come join the protest planned at 12:00 noon on May 17th (Tuesday). As a cab driver I put in almost 66.00 in gas last night, when I started in 2004 the same car the gas would have cost 23.00. That's an increase out of my pocket of 43.00 just to drive people around the city per shift. In addition cab cab companies have received a few rental increases meaning more money in there pockets, and while SFMTA got 9 million and some change last year alone from the San Francisco Taxi Industry.

Let me respond to DRF, and Davidd8000. Both of you should maybe find alternate transportation methods (that in fact would lower our costs of operation). We do not have control over some of the issues you bring to light. In fact your ignorance of the issues are displayed in your comments. The SFMTA will continue to milk the drivers and passengers of money unless the public understands the issues and supports the drivers in their efforts. The drivers need the increase because we don't make a lot of money driving a cab and are for the city of San Francisco intention call us Independent contractors. There are existing charges the drivers pay that are no longer necessary by the cab companies. The cab drivers have asked for the removal of these charges but the SFMTA said it is hard to take back something they have given to the cab companies. If the charges I speak of were removed from the cab companies we might not need a drastic increase. The drivers are not the problem here folks. The greed of the SFMTA and the Cab Companies is overwhelming. But yet I see comments on here that indicate it is the drivers fault. The driver has no control over our rising costs. Maybe some frustration should be directed to the appropriate places.

As for tipping, people do not tip at appropriate levels here in San Francisco for the cab drivers. DRF if you would have been tipping in the first place because of the high gas prices we would not be asking for the increase!

Once again the SFMTA makes over 9 Million fromt he taxi industry and yet the San Francisco Taxi Drivers do not have:

Health Insurance


Safe work environments

Drivers in some cases are not covered by insurance while they drive and are excluded from the cab companies insurance including unisured motorist

SFMTA neglects enforcing we have air bags in taxi's to protect the driver and passengers.

The frustration should be directed at the SFMTA and Cab Companies for being so greedy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

San Francisco Taxi Industry needs Safety Inspections of Taxi's

This is in response to the cab driver accident in San Diego. I think city Governments and the State of California needs to start looking at the practices of cab companies around the state and there local areas to ensure cab driver safety and passenger safety. I have driven a cab in San Francisco for many years and when I worked for Arrow Cab company a number of years ago when owned by Speck Cab Company. The brakes would fail, smell from burning oil would fill the cab and burn my chest. The City Governments and State Government has a responsibility to ensure our safety in the taxis instead of trying to blame the driver when an accident occurs. How about actually doing the safety checks on these taxi, and taking serious when a taxi driver reports a problem with a company when there is an issue with the car.

5% Credit Card Fees for San Francisco Taxi Drivers

San Francisco Cab Drivers on Slow nights average a take home wage of less than the minimum wage in San Francisco, but yet are asked to pay for the higher gas prices and now additional 5 % in credit card fees for transactions where the rider wants to use a credit card. The SFMTA at a town hall meeting wants to investigate passing the cost of credit card transactions to the customer, the driver, or the cab company. In the meanwhile when the SFMTA has brought in 9 million and some change from the taxi drivers in the last year. Why not have the SFMTA pay for the credit card fees, after all they mandated that San Francisco Taxis take credit cards in the first place. Just a thought.

Discussion At First SFMTA Taxi Town Hall Grows Heated

The first of several scheduled San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency taxi town hall meetings this week and next started heated as several dozen cab drivers, cab company owners and SFMTA officials discussed taxi issues from credit card fees to meter rate increases.

The meeting covered topics including use of credit cards in taxis, credit card transaction fees, implementation of backseat payment terminals in cabs, and fare increases.

The meeting focused on who should pay credit card fees, with SFMTA Deputy Director for Taxi Services Chris Hayashi outlining three options: cab drivers, cab companies, or passengers. Another key issue was the 5 percent credit card fee drivers are absorbing when passengers use plastic.

Hayashi said the SFMTA implemented the 5 percent credit card fee with a third party that processes the cards, VeriFone, as a driver protection. Drivers can hire their own merchant accounts, but the SFMTA wanted to prevent cab companies from directly collecting on any credit card fees, she said.

Hansu Kim, president and owner of DeSoto Cab Company, refuted claims that the cab companies are making money off advertisements on backseat credit card terminals.

Instead, he said his company has decided to use the backseat terminals to help drivers earn more tips with the credit card machine's tip prompter.

"I'm wary to eliminate something that could give drivers more money," Kim said.

Saam Aram, who has driven a cab for 20 years, passed out paperwork at the meeting proposing to form a new taxi commission that would end the SFMTA's involvement in taxi services in San Francisco, according to the group Cabbies Helping Cabbies.

"I've been coming to SFMTA meetings for over a year," Aram said.

"There has been no action."

Green Cab driver Brad Newsham spoke at the meeting, despite what he said was his frustration that the town hall meetings were being held too late in the decision-making process.

"(The credit card) policy went in effect some time in the past few weeks," Newsham said. "(SFMTA) should have the meeting before implementing the policy."

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

Join the discussion at :

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Message from Mark Gruberg UTW

The outrage over the MTA's decision to stick cab drivers with 5% processing fees for credit charges is enormous. 5% is far more than other vendors pay for this service, and basides, these charges should be the responsibility of cab companies, not drivers.

Drivers are also upset by the prospect of electronic waybills and moinitoring. Where will the information be stored? Who will have access to it? And for what purposes? What safeguards will be put in place to ensure the security of the information and the privacy of its contents? We've gotten no answers from Big Brother. But if this goes through, we know he'll be watching.

The enormous protest that took place at last week's MTA meeting -- drivers by the hundreds circling City Hall in a solid line around the block, and providing two hours of public comment -- shows that we are not going to take these decision lying down.

In response to the protests, the MTA has set up Town Hall meetings on May 10, 11 and 16. I've attached the schedule. (The issue of electronic waybills has been taken off the agenda for these meetings because, the MTA says, it will come up at a later time.) While it's likely that these meetings have been arranged to tap off some of the anger and give the impression that the MTA is listening, it's worthwhile to attend nonetheless, if only to keep up the pressure and continue to drive home our message.

The most important meeting, however, will be the MTA Board meeting of May 17. At that time, the Board will be taking up long-overdue meter increase as well as the credit card issue.

Except for one 25-cent hike in the flag drop a few years back, we haven't had a meter increase since January 2003 -- that is, in over eight years. In the meantime, gates, gas and the cost of living have all increased substantially. (Gas prices were $1.69 a gallon in January 2003!) Now, at last, they seem willing to go ahead with an increase, probably because they think it will cool drivers' anger and divert their attention from the other issues. We should have none of that. We deserve a meter increase AND relief from credit card charges AND excessive government intrusion into our workday (and worknight) lives. As many drivers said at the last hearing, if you're going to control us as if we are your employees, we want the rest of the package -- higher income, job benefits, better working conditions and a say over the terms of our employment.

The taxi portion of the MTA meeting is going to take place at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, in City Hall, Room 400. EVERYBODY -- and I mean EVERYBODY -- must show up. We will be living with the decisions made at this meeting for years to come.

This is a defining moment in our industry and our jobs. Drivers are sick and tired of the second-hand treatment we get from our regulators, who see us mainly as cash cows for Muni's budget problems. It's time we fought back -- and NOW is the time.

I'm attaching a flyer about the upcoming meetings. Pass it on to other drivers. Post it at your garage. And above all, COME AND SPEAK YOUR MIND BEFORE THE MTA.

Mark Gruberg

United Taxicab Workers

a new TAXI COMMISION, ending SFMTA’S authority over taxi industry

This initiative measure will be submitted to the people in accordance with the
provisions of Article II, Section 8, of the California Constitution.
authority over taxi industry.
Section 1. Name: This act shall be known as the “TAXI INDUSTRY ACT OF 2011”.
Section 2. Findings, Intent and Purposes: This act, adopted by the people of the City
and County of San Francisco, makes the following Findings, Statement of Intent, and
A. Findings
1. In San Francisco, taxi industry (taxi companies and taxi drivers) are independent
and self-employed. They neither are a part of the government nor are they
government employees. Taxi industry is not treated as such by SFMTA.
2. No one is perfect that is why pencils have erasers. That is why we have
constitutional rights of privilege against self-incrimination. That is why no business
allows government to decide for them and control their every move. Taxi industry is
not treated as such by SFMTA.
3. Taxi industry, mostly, have requested not to have its personal information (and
customers’ personal information) collected in some computer(s). Other businesses
had, and have, this right but Taxi industry is not treated as such by SFMTA.
C. Purposes: To bring freedom, which any other industry enjoys, to San Francisco taxi
industry; this in turn benefits taxi riders.
B. Intent: To reform taxi industry laws in San Francisco by replacing SFMTA’s control over
taxi industry with the new Taxi Commission.
Section 3. Implement:
1. Be it enacted that, 60 days after the passage of this proposition, the SFMTA will cease
to exercise all regulatory functions pertaining to taxicabs in San Francisco. Oversight
and regulation of the taxi industry will fall under the jurisdiction of the newly instituted
Taxi Commission, which will have independence from the Mayor and from the
SFMTA, but will be accountable to the Board of Supervisors and voters of San
This initiative measure will be submitted to the people in accordance with the
provisions of Article II, Section 8, of the California Constitution.
2. All revenue, currently being collected and channeled to the city government by the
SFMTA, will instead be directed through the Taxi Commission. It is from this
money that Taxi Commission will be funded.
3. The Taxi Commission will consist of seven members: One appointed by the Mayor,
two appointed by the Board of Supervisors, one representative of senior
organizations, one representative of the taxicab companies, one taxi medallion
holder/driver, and one non-medallion holder driver. I do not know how the last four
should be chosen, but they should not be political appointees, nor should they stand
for election for a public office.
4. The Taxi Commissioners should serve for one six-year term, which is not
repeatable. The terms should be staggered so they do not all expire at once.
5. A member of the Taxi Commission cannot be removed except by the vote of seven
Supervisors and only for egregious criminality.
6. Members of the Taxi Commission will be paid an annual salary of $40,000. It is
assumed that membership on the Taxi Commission is not a full time job.
7. All other matters of substance, including medallions, transfers, rules and regulations,
fees, correcting past injustices, and everything else, is excluded from this Proposition
and will continue in force as it exists at present until addressed by the new Taxi
Because we start collecting signature starting June for submission to The Board of
Supervisors, please, by May 20, 2011, email any comments or suggestions to the
address below. We would email you back the final draft for your review and final

Friday, May 6, 2011

Responsibility of Equipment in San Francisco Taxi Cabs

I came into work today and had to sign a equipment responsibility sheet for the
Electronic Waybill equipment

I asked for a copy but could not get one. I drove 1167 tonight and look at the pics of the meter I had to work with. Missing a button and the cover on the top of the meter.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

November, 2011 Candidates Meet & Greet hosted by Central City Democrats and Tenant Rights Association PAC

Central City Democrats in partnership with Tenant Rights Association PAC is hosting a Meet and Greet with the Mayoral, City Attorney and Sheriff candidates seeking elective office on November 8th, 2011.

Come join us on Monday, May 16th


50 Mason Street
San Francisco, California

as we have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with the candidates.

Additional sponsors include:
Tenant Associations Coalition Political Action Committee (TAC PAC)

North of Market Business Association

San Francisco Taxi Advocates

Come join us at 50 Mason Social House were door prizes and refreshments will be provided.

For more information call (415) 339-8683.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

San Francisco Taxi Protest at City Hall Today

There were hundreds of taxi drivers showing up at the city hall today for a protest in room 400 over the 5% credit card fees being assessed when a driver takes a credit card as payment for a ride. Drivers are also concerned over electronic waybill machines being placed in their taxis. The electronic waybill machines have not been checked for radiation levels and could cause health issues for drivers if there is a long time exposure to this new equipment. Drivers are requesting an environmental study be done to ensure these machines are safe and would not have health risks for the driver.

In addition Dean Clark was there to speak about the importance of uninsured motorist coverage for drivers as a safety net if involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist. As many of you know Dean Clark was in an accident last year suffering injuries that are long lasting and permanent. The National Cab company who Dean Clark works for did not have uninsured motorist coverage, nor carried insurance for the driver at the time of the accident.

The SFMTA who has taken over the regulatory body of the taxi industry has been only focused on getting money and draining the pockets of San Francisco Taxi Drivers. The SFMTA should own up to the responsibility of ensuring public safety comes first to include the taxi driver and mandate that all cab companies insure their taxi drivers with full coverage insurance and to include uninsured motorist coverage insurance for every single taxi driver in San Francisco.

Lets Talk about Taxi Driver Issues

Lets Talk about Taxi Driver Issues

· Credit Card Fees

· Electronic Waybills

· Insurance

· Lack of support from SFMTA

Backyard Barbecue

May 8th, 2011

12:00 noon - 3:00 p.m.

at 345 Fulton Street (in Hayes Valley on Fulton between Franklin and Gough)

We will be having Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Pasta Salad, Fruit Salad, Mixed Green Salad.

I will have Soft drinks as well!

Its a great was for others to get to know one another in San Francisco.

If you have any questions please call me at 415-240-2433

Monday, May 2, 2011

5% fee for using 3rd party’s equipment/services? GPS based Electronic Waybill?

April 25, 2011
5% fee for using 3rd party’s equipment/services?
GPS based Electronic Waybill?
If drivers are self-employed, running their own business, then they should
choose their own service provider. Forcing a third party vendor on a business
owner goes against anti monopoly laws. If SFMTA wants to treat us like an
employee, then they should pay us like MUNI drivers. SFMTA cannot have it
both ways.
In addition, To Err Is Human and no Human are faultless. By GPS monitoring
every click and every move of the cab driver (unlike any other business), we
would be going against driver’s constitutional rights, the privilege against
self-incrimination. Look up the Fifth Amendment to the United States
Those claiming that by giving the 5% drivers would be making more on tips,
in essence are asking drivers to give cash for hope (over 3 million/year for a
hope). If this is such a good idea, let us have 5% from you in exchange for
The core arguments, by SFMTA, for having these third parties forced on
drivers are Waybills, Credit/Debit processing and computer records. Drivers
(running their own business) can do all by themselves. We use our own,
nationally recognize, venders to process the credit/debit cards at less than
2%, and we email our waybills to the email account that SFMTA opens for
each driver; and keep the original for our records. This way all the three
requirements are satisfied. In addition drivers’/passengers’ personal
information are safe guarded; all at a fraction of the costs. We know that
multi-billion dollars corporations, with best minds and cutting age technology
could not protect personal information. The reason is clear; technological
progress never is at its end; it is, and always will be, a work in progress.
Therefore, it is the best not to put it where someone along the way could tap
into it.
Saam Aryan, Cab driver

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Top Lights on San Francisco Taxi Not Working

I had to work a 12 hour shift while my top light which indicates whether I am available or not was not working the whole time. When I questioned the Cab Company they could not do anything because there was no Mechanic available. I wrote the car up for repairs but the night dispatcher released the car on the street anyway. Non functioning top light cut deeply into my revenue last night as a San Francisco Taxi Driver.

In addition Ben out evening dispatcher thought it was necessary to ask me to get out of the car and ring the doorbell of a customer. The issue is that he stated over the air waves that I needed exercise. Part of the dispatch service includes the dispatcher calling out customers for us. San Francisco Taxi Drivers do not have health care and for us to get out and ring the bell increases our chances of getting injured on the job. My understanding of insurance only covers curb to curb.

The whole San Francisco Taxi Industry is amazing being called an independent contractor. I do not understand why the federal government or state government does not help us out. Under workers compensation we are employees.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

San Francisco Taxi Drivers has a new Machine!

Most of us heard about these wonderful machines that San Francisco Taxi Companies are installing on recommendation of the SFMTA. There is a navigation system, and credit card processing capabilities. The drivers have been complaining about the 5 % charge assessed by the Cab Companies to use these credit card machines for weeks now. These awesome machines are suppose to allow us to have electronic waybills. Another issue drivers dont like is the thought of electronic waybills. Many drivers are concerned about the possibility of radiation effects on their bodies while being enclosed in the car with this machine, and now a second one back behind their heads. These machines are brought to us as part of the Verifone system. The machine that processes credit cards is also connected to our meter that controls the charges to the customer. The meter rates are determined by the city of San Francisco.

I have a question..... Tonight at National Cab Company, several of the drivers complained about inaccurate meter readings. I myself experienced taking a customer from the Hilton Offarell to the 3rd and Williams streets in the Bay view. The meter read 7.15 and the meter should have read 13.50 another driver took someone to Berkeley and back to San Francisco and their meter read 17.00 which is about a 60.00 ride. Fine the city and the SFMTA want to be able to have the drivers accept credit cards and allow Verifone to Beta test their equipment on the San Francisco Taxi Drivers. Who is responsible for our lost income from inaccurate meter readings. I was able to fix mine by rebooting the system which takes about ten minutes. On a Friday night I could lose a couple fairs just to fix a problem that should not occur. There should be compensation to the drivers tonight for this terrible situation that was faced by drivers who have low incomes. I also spoke with a couple Desoto drivers who were experiencing the same thing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

San Francisco seeks a smarter way to call a cab.

I guess the SFMTA has a lot of money to spend on an application. I hope they don't plan on increasing parking tickets and selling off more medallions to pay for such a thing. I agree we need a centralized dispatch but you would think they could strike a deal where an app is free in this economic climate.

I disagree with the thought of releasing more medallions and hurting drivers income. The out come would be less cabs on the street because who wants to work for nothing, obviously city employees don't want to work for nothing, why expect taxi drivers to do this?

Incentives need to be in place for the taxi companies to want to service the customers. Currently there is no incentive because the cab companies get paid whether a passenger gets a cab or not. There fore increasing more cabs gives the companies more money but once again no incentive to get cabs to the passengers requesting them. By getting the customer in direct contact with the driver is the best approach, less wait time and picked up more quickly.

I think those of you who keep talking about more cabs on the street need to think for a second. If you went to work and could not handle your work load and the boss came up and said we need another person you would like it. However if your boss told you that you make 50K per year and when they bring on the other person your income would drop to 25K so they can pay 25k to the new person. You would not want the other person on board now would you.

The follwoing comments above are in response to an article found at:

Examiner Staff Writer
Examiner file photo

Frustrated cab customers may soon be able to call upon a new program that will help them call, track, and report any taxi in San Francisco. But one cab company that already has a similar system is concerned that The City-funded initiative will render its investment worthless.

The Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages cab operations in San Francisco, is recommending a $400,000 pilot program that would allow smartphone users to see a map of available cabs, and, with the touch of a button, contact and request the nearest taxi.

Getting a cab in San Francisco is notoriously difficult. According to a 2006 Controller’s Report, 33 percent of passengers trying to hail down a taxi on a weekend night waited longer than 30 minutes.

Cabulous, the San Francisco-based company that offers this technology, has been in talks with the MTA about serving as its technology provider. The agency would have to seek proposals from all interested companies before selecting one for its program.

Currently, Cabulous has contracts with 400 taxis in San Francisco. Under the proposal, all 1,500 San Francisco taxis would be outfitted with the technology, and the MTA would pay for the plan for the first year of its program.

But that idea has riled officials at Luxor Cab, who already have invested $100,000 in a similar smartphone application called Taxi Magic, which alerts passengers — through the company’s dispatch center — about nearby cabs.

“We want to know why this has to be a no-cost program for other companies,” said Charles Rathbone, a Luxor operations manager. “This is a business and Luxor has been making this investment willingly for years. There are other companies out there that haven’t been willing to invest a dime into this.”

Jarvis Murray of the MTA’s taxi services division said companies would have to begin paying for the service after the yearlong pilot program has expired. Under Cabulous’ pay structure, drivers pay $1.50 a shift, so companies could expect to pay $3 a day (two shifts) for each car they manage.

Luxor’s Rathbone said that many companies would drop the application the day the MTA program ends. He said that the $400,000, which would come from the MTA’s taxi medallion sales program, could be used for better purposes in the industry.

However, Mark Gruberg, a spokesman for the United Taxicab Workers said many cabbies support the program.

“This is just another option for passengers to get in touch with cab drivers,” said Gruberg. “It’s good for drivers and it’s good for customers.”

John Wolpert, chief executive officer at Cabulous, said that order efficiencies — the number of calls that result in cab rides — have improved by 50 percent for drivers who use the application.

An initial presentation of the MTA’s open taxi access program was made at the agency’s policy and governance committee on Tuesday. The plan will be discussed at the agency’s taxi advisory council for recommendation before going for possible final authorization at the MTA’s full board of directors later this year.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

It's Not Easy Being Yellow (Cab)

It's Not Easy Being Yellow (Cab)
It's a good thing that MTA is considering giving cab drivers the go ahead for an across-the-board rate increase that would go right into their pockets because driving a taxi is hard work. Not only do cabbies have to deal with the everyday gauntlet that is driving in San Francisco, but when they inevitably get stiffed by passengers nobody does a damn thing about it.

When cab driver Dean Clark picked up a sketchy fare who eventually stiffed him, he expected SFPD to maybe help him out a little. No such luck. "I guess the moral of this story is Taxi Drivers pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for permits per year to the city of San Francisco. In addition through our gates we pay the cab companies pay plenty to the city," writes Baker. "What do the San Francisco Taxi Drivers get in return when there is a problem? Obviously not even a police report."


San Francisco Taxi Driver Robbed Again April 22nd, 2011

Once again a San Francisco Taxi Driver robbed on April 22 nd around 3:00 a.m. by another entitled person who felt like he did not have to pay for his fare. The fare totaled 16.15 not to mention the time spent trying to get the police to come to the scene, which never occurred because there were higher priority calls.

Here is what happened the passenger called around 3:00 a.m. to National Cab Company requesting a cab at 190 Bradford (Courtland and Bradford) in San Francisco Potrero Hill neighborhood. I got to the call and a man came out in his 30's looked kind of shady and said he wanted to go to 3rd and Folsom. When we got to 3rd and Folsom the man did not have enough money to pay the fare, so I told him I accept credit cards. He gave me a temporary credit card that was declined by the processing system from Verifone. The fancy system that the SFMTA and the cab companies have set up for the drivers that charges us 5 percent for each transaction. The passenger than made a call to his girlfriend who lives at 3rd and Folsom requesting her to bring money to the gate where he would meet her at the apartment complex. He told me he would be right back. I waited a few minutes and thought something was not right so I called the dispatcher Frank at National Cab Company who in turn called the customer while I was on the phone. The passenger who at that time was upstairs said he would have to pay by credit card but it is his girlfriends. The passenger already knew we take credit cards. I waited another ten minutes for the guy to return which he did not. Therefore stiffing me of my 16.00 for the fare. Most of the readers who read this would say big deal 16.00. In san Francisco Drivering a cab on slow nights that is about 25 percent of our take home pay. IT IS A BIG DEAL. The dispatcher than gave me the passengers telephone number so I called several times and got no answer. It was clear to me at this time I was robbed.

I then phoned the San Francisco Police Department for assistance. I was told there was a lot of activity going on in the Ingleside area and that it would be awhile. I asked the police dispatcher if I should go to the Ingleside station and it might be more quick. She agreed so on I go to the Ingleside police station where officer Frazier was behind the window. Officer Frazier said they were too busy to be able to take the police report and that they were understaffed this morning. What a comforting feeling in case there was something more serious that occurs like a shooting of a driver or another robbery. I was told I could come back at anytime to write up a report. NO POLICE REPORT WAS FILED TONIGHT BECAUSE OF UNDER STAFFING. This process took about 30 minutes to get no police report.

I guess the moral of this story is Taxi Drivers pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for permits per year to the city of San Francisco. In addition through our gates we pay the cab companies pay plenty to the city. What do the San Francisco Taxi Drivers get in return when there is a problem? Obviously not even a police report. Is it just me or is there something wrong with this picture. Don't get me wrong I have a lot of respect for our police department and the duty they serve to the community. All I ever wanted was my pay for driving this passenger to his location, and when that did not occur all I wanted was a police report which did not happen either. Somehow in all of this it is the drivers fault according to the dispatch window at National Cab Company who dispatched to me this call in the first place. Did you know that there us a city regulation that requires cab drivers in the city to take at least one dispatch call per hour if they are available. Drivers pay for a dispatch service when something goes wrong why is the fare lost the responsibility of the cab driver??

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cab Driver Mayhem

Cab Driver Mayhem

Poor cabbies can't catch a break: first a cab driver was arrested for defending himself when a fare turned violent, and now the Ex reports on what may be a new robbery trend.

Of course, two incidents hardly constitutes a trend. As the Ex reports, due to security cameras, crimes against taxi drivers have "gone done." (Crimes against proofreading remain at an all-time high.)

But cab drivers may still want to keep their guard up. This weekend's robberies happened in the Bayview and the Eastern Mission (aka "The Abandoned Warehouse District"), and follow two other recent incidents in the Western Addition and Bayview.

After those previous incidents, some cabbies wanted better lines of communication with the SFPD.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

California's Workers' Comp Laws and San Francisco's Taxi Industry, A Cab Driver's Experience. By John Han

SF Taxi Driver Dean Clark.
The following is a highlight and recap of a discussion I had with SF taxi driver Dean Clark.

Clark is a gate and gas taxi driver working night shifts at National Cab. Clark alleges that in April of 2010, his taxi was struck by another vehicle driven by an uninsured motorist at 8th St. and Minna, in which he had suffered, and still suffers from injuries unaccounted for today. Here are the highlights of the accident, and the details of what later took place with the cab company, as they have been relayed to me.

In April of 2010, Clark was driving southbound on 8th St. in the far right lane. A woman in another car was heading westbound on Minna. She attempted to crossover 8th St to get to the other side of Minna, but in doing so, struck the front driver’s side of Clarks taxi, causing the taxi to spin. Clark says that upon impact, the taxi’s seatbelt locking mechanism had failed, and that no airbags were deployed because the vehicle did not have any. Consequently, Clark’s head hit the front windshield, and as the car spun, also hit the side window, causing blurred “temporary blindness”, for several hours.

He says his legs struck the front of the cars interior causing temporary loss in the use of his legs. After being taken to General Hospital, his vision and limited use of his legs returned, although with numbness.

According to Clark’s telling of the accident, the cab company at the time, and possibly the police report, claimed that the woman had liability insurance. But after filing a claim, the insurance company said that the woman’s policy had been canceled recently because of lack of payment, and then had then been reinstated, but only after the accident occurred. Therefore, the woman’s insurance company denied the injury claim.

This led to Clark being referred to National Cab’s attorney. But Clark says the cab company’s attorney didn’t want to represent Clark in a workers’ comp claim nor defer him to another attorney. Neither did the cab company post information about California’s Workers’ Compensation laws anywhere at the company where drivers could see it.

According to Clark, after National Cab had initially delayed in filing a workers’ comp claim, and then seemingly repudiated further attempt to do so, he contacted the cab company’s insurance carrier, which he identifies as Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association (PMA), a Pennsylvania lobbying firm.

According to PMA’s website, the firm is involved in, “enacting workers’ compensation reform”, and since 1909, has been, “defending free enterprise and fighting to improve the competitiveness of Pennsylvania’s business climate.”

Clark says that when he contacted the firm, it had denied any knowledge of a policy number associated with National Cab, and that the medical bills resulting from the accident to date have gone unpaid. After that incident, Clark sought help from a private attorney and is currently being represented by that attorney.

In another matter not related to the accident, but related to Clark’s relationship to National Cab, an MRI revealed white spots in his brain. Clark says he believes it could be from long-term exposure to cab fumes.

Dean Clark…

“For the first three years or so driving for National Cab, I was placed in some of the most nastiest cabs you could ever imagine. And my clothes and everything else would smell like a sweet odor. And we’re not talking about dirty. We’re talking about some sort of odor or gas because it would make you light headed. I would have headaches sometimes for almost seven hours and would have to take Exedrin. So I started getting worried about that so I went to the doctor (Kaiser). The doctor there took three different blood tests at three different random times throughout the course of a year or two, and found that I have high carbon monoxide levels.”

According to Clark, National Cab told him his high carbon monoxide levels were the result of him being a smoker.

Going back to the accident though, he says he has been diagnosed with post concussion syndrome, three herniated discs, vision issues and others as a result. He continues to see a neurologist, and still suffers pain from the three herniated discs.

As for airbags, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) does not require taxis to be equipped with airbags, which Clark believes could have dramatically prevented the injuries. Nor does it require cab companies to carry uninsured motorist coverage in their insurance policies. But Transportation Code Division II, Article 1100 Section 1106(i) does state…

“Color Scheme Permit Holders shall comply with all applicable state laws and regulations concerning Workers’ Compensation”. (Transportation Code Division II, Article 1100 Section 1106(i))

With regards to state laws and regulations concerning Workers’ Compensation, this following excerpt is from a memorandum put out in 2008 by the former SF Taxi Commission.

"The state judicial system has affirmed that California taxi drivers are employees for purposes of workers' compensation in certain employment situations. These employment situations have included "gate and gas" drivers. Local cases making this finding include Tracy v. Yellow Cab Co-Operative, Inc. (San Francisco Superior Court No. 938786) and Yellow Cab Cooperative Inc. V. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (1991) 226 Cal.App.3d 1288. Another case on point is Santa Cruz Transportation, Inc. v. Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (1991) 235 Cal.App.3d 1363."

In the same memorandum, the former taxi commission held that San Francisco cab companies are required by State laws to purchase and maintain workers’ compensation coverage for individual taxi drivers. This excerpt cited local codes pursuant to California’s laws.

"Municipal Police Code 1147.4 provides:

All persons, firms or corporations holding taxicab color scheme permits pursuant to Section 1125(b) of this Article shall comply with all applicable state statues concerning workers' compensation and any applicable regulations adopted pursuant to those statutes. Taxicab color scheme permit holders must include a sworn statement attesting to compliance with such applicable statutes and regulations as part of an annual filing required by Section 1095 of this Article.

Rule 5.H.16 requires that "the color scheme holder must have a copy of Certificate of Worker's Compensation Insurance prominently displayed at the place of business so that it is visible to drivers." This is based on California Labor Code 3350 which requires the same posting. Notably, Labor Code 3550 administers a civil penalty of up to $7000 for failure to post the certificate. The Commission also assesses a fine of $75 for the first offense of failure to post a current certificate."

(SF Taxi Commission memorandum 2008)

“I’m fed up. You can’t treat people like this”, says Clark. He says he wants the lawmakers and the public to understand his experience. “I hope that they gain some perspective of what San Francisco taxi drivers have to go through, and how underrepresented we truly are”, he says.

“Also when it comes to looking for a lawyer, for looking for someone to represent us, we’re just underrepresented across the board. And things like that need to change.”

Clark has an attorney, and says he expects his case will eventually go to court.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency can fine a cab company for failure to comply with workers' compensation laws $45 per day for each day without insurance. (Transportation Code Division II, Article 1100 Section 1106(i) Schedule of Fines)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Two taxicab robberies raise concerns about attacks against drivers

Taxi drivers were twice robbed by passengers in San Francisco since Sunday, stoking fears that crimes against cabbies are on the rise.

A 64-year-old cabbie reported to police that he was violently robbed while dropping off a crooked passenger at Missouri and 23rd streets just past midnight Monday.

Around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, three passengers also robbed a 54-year-old driver at gunpoint at Cashmere Street and Hudson Avenue in the Bayview, police said.

In Monday’s incident, the suspect, described as a man in his early 40s, grabbed the driver by the throat and demanded cash after the cab reached its destination, police said.

The suspect not only fled with the money, but the security camera as well. Taxi drivers say security cameras have played a large part in why crimes against taxi drivers have gone done in recent years.

In Sunday’s robbery, three men in their early 20s patted down the driver in the hunt for loot. Again, they robbed the driver after they had reached their destination. One of the crooks brandished a silver revolver with white grips. After the driver handed over cash, he was patted down. The suspects made off with cash, a cellphone and a gear bag.

There have been four robberies on cab drivers in just over one month in San Francisco. On April 17, a 39-year-old driver was robbed at gunpoint in the area of Scott Street and Geary Boulevard.

Only days earlier, a cabbie was robbed at gunpoint after picking up two men who hailed his cab in the Bayview district, according to police.

A high-tech way to hail a cab

The Municipal Transportation Agency wants to put the power to find and hail a taxi, then watch to see if it actually shows up, in your smart phone, tablet or computer.

But at least one of the city's biggest taxi companies doesn't like the idea, even though it would get the technology for free.

The agency, which oversees taxi operations in San Francisco, wants to develop a smart phone application featuring a map that would allow someone looking for a cab to see all nearby, and available, taxis on the screen, select one, then watch as it approaches -- or doesn't. Drivers would be also be able to see locations of passengers requesting cabs as well, and see if they remain there or climb into another taxi.

Agency officials say it would make life easier for both passengers, who complain of the difficulty of getting a cab, and taxi drivers, who often drive to a call only to find the customer has taken another cab.

The agency is not ready to seek bidders to develop the system -- which would be available to all taxi companies -- but expects it to cost about $400,000. Funding would come from sales of taxi medallions.

Similar systems, marketed by private firms, already exist. But Sonali Bose, the agency's chief financial officer, said some limit access only to certain taxi companies.

Charles Rathbone, assistant manager of Luxor Cab, said the agency should leave the business of taxi technology to the private sector, and questioned whether the application was an effort by the agency to start managing or dispatching cabs itself.

The agency's Policy and Governance Committee backed the idea of the phone/computer application, but referred it to the Taxi Advisory Committee for further discussion.

Posted By: Michael Cabanatuan (Email) | April 13 2011 at 08:17 AM

San Francisco cabbie jailed in brawl with passenger

Off the meter: A Luxor taxi driver battled an unruly passenger in the street and ended up being put behind bars.

An outraged San Francisco cabbie says he spent a weekend in jail after winning a fight against a passenger who threatened and attacked him.

Luxor driver Troy Nicholson, 46, was locked up from Friday to Monday after the early morning brawl at Turk and Larkin streets on April 8. The brawl stemmed from a dispute over the route Nicholson had taken, police said.

The fight began in the cab but spilled out onto the street. At its peak, the men jousted with pieces of a metal street sign, police said.

Nicholson eventually got the upper hand, "striking the passenger several times over the head" with the metal piece, knocking him unconscious, according to the police.

The passenger was transported to the hospital with serious injuries. Nicholson was jailed. The passenger wasn’t arrested, though witnesses told police he threatened Nicholson and struck him with the metal sign.

Although both parties delivered blows, Nicholson inflicted more damage and was arrested, Lt. Troy Dangerfield said. Police arrest either the aggressor or the person using the most force, Dangerfield said.

"When they’re dueling, they’re equals," he said. "If you hit me on the arm, and I hit you on the arm, no foul. If I kick you in the leg, and you take my eye out, not fair."

The cabbie was released from custody the morning of April 11. Prosecutors declined to charge him in the case, according to Charisse Russell, Nicholson’s wife.

Nicholson is now consulting his lawyer, saying he was unjustly jailed for defending himself. He fears the incident could affect his job. On his attorney’s advice, he declined to discuss specifics of the incident.

However, his wife said the passenger was an irate intoxicated "jerk" who started the fight, kicked the back of the seats, and vandalized the cab after being told to get out.

After he "attacked my husband with the metal street sign," Russell said Nicholson grappled with him over the sign.

Dangerfield said the sign "broke in two" during the fight.

Nicholson said he hopes surveillance tapes at the federal building will help prove that he did not deserve to spend a weekend in jail.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

Email from frsutrated San Francisco Taxi Driver about Hotel lines

As we all know and agree Marriott Hotel on Fourth Street at Market Street is one among the top 5 busiest hotels of San Francisco if not the most busiest hotel. Just as an example today Fairmont has about 90 checkouts and Marriott Marquis has over 700 checkouts.

The taxi line is on the fourth street on the east side (next to the Ross Store). Also on the same side are a few parking spots with individual parking meters. These parking spots, I request, be eliminated and made space for taxis. As of now taxis have a very hard time getting into this taxi line due to these parking spaces.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

SFMTA Roundup: Muni Starts Its Anti-Union PR Campaign, Cab Companies Don't Want MTA's Help, Cars Keep Running People Over

SFMTA Roundup: Muni Starts Its Anti-Union PR Campaign, Cab Companies Don't Want MTA's Help, Cars Keep Running People Over

Oh, man, Muni management's PR attack on operators is ON, and the driver's union seems woefully prepared to handle it. Other folks the SFMTA's likely pissing off are cab drivers (who say the transit agency's trying to take them over), people getting hit by cars due to poor street maintenance, and people who (rightfully, perhaps) feel unsafe while waiting for the bus.

Muni's New PR Firm Starts PRing
When Muni hired high-priced PR firm Goodyear Peterson, there erupted a chorus of "harrumphs" from naysayers worried that the $100,000 MTA is giving to former Chronicle scribe Charlie Goodyear to handle media relations during the upcoming labor negotiations with the operators union could be better used cracking down the fare-evading hooligans who cost the agency nearly $20 million annually.

As of this morning it looks like Muni's dollars are starting to get spent. All fresh and clean in our inbox came our first shiny, new press release from Goodyear Peterson and, from the outset, it's clear what the firm's role in the negotiations will be--to go for the union's jugular. The release claims that MTA management has identified at least $26 million in savings they could generate from changes to policies for operators like:

"Eliminating $3.2 million in annual paid lunchtime for Muni operators. Union leadership has countered with a proposal to double paid lunchtime, a cost of more than $6 million per year.

Saving approximately $7 million per year through the use of part-time operators who would reduce the use of overtime pay.

Reducing an 8% night shift premium pay which now costs Muni $2.75 million a year. Union leaders are seeking to increase the premium to 15 percent.

Requiring Muni operators to pay their own employee contribution toward their pension plan as is the norm for other San Francisco city employees. This would save the system $9.8 million per year.

Eliminating a $1 million premium paid now to operators who agree to stay long term in one of SFMTA's seven divisions."

Mmmmmm...that's some expensive flackery.

Contract negotiations will go though next month. If an agreement isn't reached by the end of the negotiation period, both sides are legally required to enter binding arbitration.

The release concludes by saying, "The average Muni operator now earns more than $101,000 a year in salary and benefits under the current labor agreement." We'll likely be hearing that phrase a lot from Goodyear Peterson as negotiations continue.

Cut Proposals Surprise Operators' Union Rep

The Chron's Matier and Ross say Muni management is proposing still other contract changes like a 10% decrease in driver salaries, the option to hire part-time drivers, and to get rid of:

The 50-cents-an-hour premium for working in the same division for five years; a $450-a-year boost for transit inspectors whose families miss out on the free rides on Muni that other workers' relatives get; and rules that prevent Muni from firing drivers for not having a valid driver's license.

Muni's operators' union head Rafael Cabrera told M&R this was the first he'd heard of these savings plans, and that he's "surprised Muni has decided to negotiate this way." Rafael, they are spending 100 grand! Did you think that money would go towards pillows with which to pelt you?

Yeah, Cab Companies Don't Want An App For That

The MTA is looking to develop a smartphone app that would allow users to pull up a map of all available nearby taxis, call for one and watch in real time as it drives over and picks you up. Or doesn't pick you up. Either way, you'll have something to do while cowering under an awning outside of a bar in the Richmond at 2am on a rainy Saturday night. It would also easily allow passengers to cancel the aforementioned cab if they manage to hail another one on the street before the one they called arrives. The agency would provide the app to cab companies free of charge and pay for its estimated $400,000 cost from the sale of taxi medallions.

There are already a number of apps that perform similar functions as what MTA is proposing (such as Taxi Magic, Cabulous, and, arguably, UberCab) but those don't cover all cab companies and the agency wanted something all-inclusive.

The app sounds like a great idea, making life easier for both passengers and drivers, but many big cab companies are dead set against it. A spokesman from Luxor Cab argued that the agency should "leave the business of taxi technology to the private sector" and intimated that the whole thing was a MTA power grab in to start managing and/or dispatching cabs itself.

And they have a point -- do you want the folks who frequently don't know when your bus might come (if ever) managing your cabs, too?

Dear Cars, Stop Running Into Pedestrians. Sincerely, Pedestrians

SFMTA's Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee reports that over 800 pedestrians are hit by cars every year in San Francisco, racking up a whopping total $76 million in medical bills in the process. That's one out of every four traumatic injuries occurring inside city limits. And that's just the ones that get counted--the Department of Public Health estimates that at least 20% of accidents go unreported.

While the majority of pedestrian/automobile collisions happen in the SoMa and Tenderloin neighborhoods, the area around the Panhandle is also notoriously dangerous. Partially in response a motorist running a red light and hitting a 35-year old woman, breaking both of her legs, SFMTA crews are re-striping the badly faded lanes on Masonic from Fell to Turk.

Capital improvement like this are often expensive, but they pale in comparison to the cost of stitching up everyone beaten and bruised (or worse) by San Francisco's army of death monsters.

Waiting For Muni Isn't Safe

According to SFPD, yesterday at 3:05 PM, three 20-something men attacked and robbed a man and a woman waiting for Muni at Divis and Geary.

According to the police report, one victim, a 48-year-old man, was knocked to the ground, as another 21-year-old male victim was shoved. Both had their iPhones stolen, as their assailants fled on foot. Neither were seriously injured.

Because, obviously, just standing there waiting for the bus can be dangerous.