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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blue Zone Parking Tickets

If you as a taxi driver get a parking ticket for letting off a passenger in the bus zone, or any other tickets. You are allowed to drop off in the zone if there are no other options. Please call Kate Toran at 415-701-4440 at the SFMTA.

She will help you with your ticket

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fun & Play At Work - SF Taxi Drivers Perspective

Harold Miller, Dean Clark, and John Han speak at the school tonight regarding the San Francisco Taxi Industry. We have created a great video clip to share with you at:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

San Francisco Cab driver knocked out by customer over fare dispute

A San Francisco taxi driver was knocked out with a metal sign during a spat with a customer over cab fare Friday morning, police said.

Police took a 46-year-old man into custody following the hack attack at Turk and Larkin streets around 3 a.m.

After arguing over the fare outside the cab, a brawl broke out. The customer got a hold of a metal sign on the street and struck the cabbie in the head with it, knocking him unconscious, cops said.

The cabbie was transported to San Francisco General Hospital, police said.

Further information was not immediately available.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Does SFO Issue Its Own License Plates? Sort Of, Temporary Ones – And Why Does SFO Charge Taxis More Than Limos?

Does SFO Issue Its Own License Plates? Sort Of, Temporary Ones – And Why Does SFO Charge Taxis More Than Limos?

First up are these temporary blue license plates limo drivers get from SFO – you see them all over town these days. (Is there some kind of scam people pull involving with these plates? Knowing SFO the way I do, I’m sure there is.)

Anyway I think they’re part of the San Francisco International Airport’s Commercial Ground Transportation Operating Permit Pre-Operations Entry Package, or something. Mystery solved.

Click to expand

Second up is why does SFO charges a taxi driver picking up passengers more than a limo driver? Check out the price list of a trip to SFO:

Taxis $4.00
Taxis (non-San Francisco based short trips) $2.00
Limousines $3.65

Just asking, SFO Bro.

Scheduled Buses $2.80
Share Ride Vans – all zones $2.90
Share Ride Vans – all zones – not implementing Clean Vehicle Policy $8.70
Pre-arranged Vans $3.05
Pre-arranged Vans – not implementing Clean Vehicle Policy $9.15
Off-Airport Parking Shuttles $2.80
Off-Airport Parking Shuttles – not implementing Clean Vehicle Policy $8.40
Off-Airport Parking Shuttles – Hydrogen Blend Vehicles $1.00
Charter Buses $3.05
Hotel Courtesy Shuttles $2.75
Hotel Courtesy Shuttles- not implementing Clean Vehicle Policy $8.25
Hotel Courtesy Shuttles – Hydrogen Blend Vehicles $0.95
Miscellaneous Ground Transportation $3.00″

San Francisco Taxi's Are They Really being Inspected

In the light os many accidents and deaths in San Francisco taxi's I decided to write a little blurb about it.

City code requires cabs be checked for brakes. Spares are checked every 6 months. Is this being done? I have worked as a cab driver for several years and can tell the public that some of the cars the city allows the taxi companies to drive on the street are unfit. Cab Companies on average charge their night drivers about 120.oo a night for a ten hour shift. You do the math. One day 240.00 a month, I think you get the picture. I drive cabs for years that smelled of fumes, and discovered through a doctor that the fumes I was inhaling is carbon monoxide. I dont know what condition this cab was in but most cabbies will tell you if you inhale these fumes, it does something to your brain. I urge investigators to see if this vehicle was checked, because remember the city gets money from these people who own the cabs. We need a thorough inspection of the cabs when they come in for safety checks and not just a once over. One more thing the Airport Inspection, should take the drivers more serious when they report the cab and not tell the company which driver reported it so they get fired. I think if you read this you get the picture of why the cabs are so awful in San Francisco.

If you ride in an awful cab, you can do something about it. Get the number off the side of the cab and call 311 and give them the date, time, and what the problem is. remember folks many times it is not the cab drivers fault but the city for not inspecting the cabs we ride in! It would be helpful if we could help the city by reporting these awful cabs.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Behbahani told investigators that is when the brakes of the DeSoto Cab Co.’s Dodge Intrepid stopped working. It caught fire and slammed into a freeway

It may be a week before investigators determine the exact cause of the fiery taxi crash that killed two tourists from Cincinnati, the California Highway Patrol said Tuesday.

Investigators are looking at how much time elapsed between when the driver, Fageh Hassan Behbahani, 49, of Daly City, may have first smelled smoke, somewhere around Candlestick Park, and when he exited Interstate 280 at Mariposa Street around 11 a.m. Monday.

Behbahani told investigators that is when the brakes of the DeSoto Cab Co.’s Dodge Intrepid stopped working. It caught fire and slammed into a freeway pillar at 40 mph, CHP Officer Shawn Chase said.

“If I were in that situation, the prudent thing is to pull over and check it out right away. Try to get off the freeway,” Chase said. “But it’s still an open investigation.”

Behbahani has not been arrested, Chase said.

The cab driver may have bypassed several off-ramps in a 2-mile stretch before exiting I-280.

The married couple, Dennis, 61, and Karen Marshall, 59, had just arrived for a vacation in San Francisco and were en route from San Francisco International Airport to the Mark Hopkins hotel in Nob Hill.

Both died at San Francisco General Hospital.

Three sheriff’s deputies trailing in a county-owned car and van watched the crash and stopped to extinguish the flames and rescue the couple. The deputies — Zalady Ralleta, Robert Rood and Christopher Sheriff — all were treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation. Rood and Ralleta remained at St. Francis Memorial Hospital on Tuesday.

Behbahani, who has worked with DeSoto for six months, has a valid license and a clean record. Police said he checked himself out of San Francisco General Hospital on Monday despite medical advice to stay.

City code requires that cabs are inspected at least once a year with valid registration, brake certification and proof of insurance if they’re regular vehicles, and once every six months if they’re spares.

The Dodge passed its required inspection Jan. 10, with 286,000 miles on its engine.

Limo, taxi collide in San Francisco - 7 hurt

Limo, taxi collide in San Francisco - 7 hurt


February 07, 2011|By John Coté, Chronicle Staff Writer

Seven people were injured when a taxicab and a limousine collided early Sunday in San Francisco's lower Nob Hill neighborhood, police said.

The crash happened at the intersection of Jones and Sutter streets about 2 a.m., Officer Albie Esparza said. He had no information on who was at fault in the collision. The impact sent one of the vehicles into a light pole, knocking loose the streetlight cover, which fell and injured two pedestrians, Esparza said. Five occupants in the vehicles were injured.

All seven people were transported to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, Esparza said.

- John Coté

SAN FRANCISCO / Taxi board fires Newsom-named director / Lame-duck panel dumps top staffer in surprise move

SAN FRANCISCO / Taxi board fires Newsom-named director / Lame-duck panel dumps top staffer in surprise move

June 29, 2006|By Cecilia M. Vega, Charlie Goodyear, Chronicle Staff Writers

In the middle of the night and without giving a reason, the San Francisco Taxicab Commission fired Mayor Gavin Newsom's handpicked director who has a reputation for being tough on the cab industry.

The Wednesday morning firing of Heidi Machen was quickly assailed by her supporters, including Newsom, who said she was singled out for enforcing laws aimed at keeping cab companies honest.

Machen previously worked as an aide to Newsom when he was a member of the Board of Supervisors and was appointed by him to the Taxi Commission post last year.

"In my view, it's a case of the taxi industry running over the executive director," said Mark Gruberg, a spokesman for United Taxicab Workers, an advocacy group for drivers. "They do not want to have a person like Heidi who at long last was enforcing the laws and rules and regulations that govern the industry."

The 4-2 vote to fire Machen followed an eight-hour meeting, including a three-hour closed-door session, and ended at 2 a.m. with her immediate termination.

All six commissioners who serve on the board at Newsom's pleasure are currently working under expired terms, which fueled criticism of the mayor on Wednesday by some who said he shared the responsibility for Machen's fate because he has ignored the oversight panel and failed to appoint new members.

Newsom said he was "just about to make dramatic changes on the (taxi) commission" before Machen was fired, but because his city commission-appointments secretary, Ruby Tourk, is on leave, the changes were never implemented.

"It's one of those rare instances of timing. Everything has worked against you to allow this to happen," Newsom said.

He said he was surprised to learn the news of Machen's dismissal and is considering moving the Taxi Commission to the jurisdiction of the Municipal Transportation Agency this year so that all the city's transportation boards are under one umbrella. He said he had planned to wait until 2007 to make that move.

His own commissioners who serve at his pleasure went against his administration, he said.

"We had assurances yesterday this was not going to happen by some of the commissioners who then went another way after telling us," Newsom said.

During Machen's year on the job, she earned a reputation for cracking down on taxicab companies by requiring annual audits to ensure they keep accurate books and by enforcing laws that require those who own coveted medallions to actually drive cabs.


Taxi Driver Appreciation Night at Kens Kitchen April 4th

Dean Clark Presents SF Meet and Greet Event at Ken's Kitchen

Location: 700 Polk Street

Time Monday April 4th at 7:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m.

Complimentary food

Free Admission

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

San Francisco Taxi Top Lights Not Working

There has been a long time issue of people who are seeking a cab having difficulties of telling whether a cab is occupied or not by the top light. The top light is the light on the top of the cab which says "taxi". If the light is on then the cab is usually available unless the driver is going to a radio or dispatch call. If the light is off The driver has someone inside the cab called a fare. I had to drive a cab for two weeks in a row until I could get the cab company to fix this light. The cab was written up to the cab company, but nothing was done because alot of times the cab company does not want to lose revenue for a taxi being off the streets.

The public seldom sees this perspective because no one talks or writes about it. The driver has no control of the mechanical issues related to the cab when a driver rents the taxi as a gates and gas driver. The cab company is responsible for repairs for gates and gas drivers. Currently there is no where for the driver to turn to when a cab is acting up whether it be lights, brakes, fumes, or anything that might be defective with the cab. The driver is at the mercy of the cab company which may or may not fix the cab.Cab Drivers need the public's help with cabs that are in poor condition. If a person sees a cab which has a bad odor or defective in anyway, they can report it on the 311 line.

The person seeing the issue can dial 311 on their cell phone and take the cab number off the side of the cab and report it 24 hours a day. The same hold true if the passenger in a taxi has an issue with the driver speeding, or car smelling like pot, or any other issue they might have with the driver.

In San Francisco people throw things at the cab sometimes breaking windshields or side windows because the public in San Francisco does not understand that there might be a problem with the top light. In the future folks please call 311 and report the cab number to the dispatch. Maybe by doing this the city will do something to ensure the cabs on the city streets are kept up and in safe working condition. After all, the city of San Francisco gets alot of money from the cab industry and does not give much back to the industry.