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:

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