Thursday, April 28, 2016

Failure To Gain Consensus

Yesterday's failed meeting between Yellow Taxi association operators and its board of directors is all about history and unmet expectations and grievances.  It is not coincidental that the chief complainants is that new group of operators now leasing individual medallions, a group that before now, were ultimately powerless to influence association policy.  Like the newly emancipated slave, they now want their equal rights, demanding an instantaneous  recognition heretofore unachievable.

While that emotion is understandable, it fails to understand that all of us in Seattle's taxi industry have labored under a false hierarchy and power structure created and maintained solely by Seattle and King County regulators.  By limiting the number of medallions, this artificial shortage allowed a class structure of have and have-nots to be created.  That the individuals profiting from this system are reluctant to retreat from what has been, until recently, an enviable "gravy train" is understandable and part of America's inherent economic system.  It is simple supply and demand.  In the past I have paid as little as $75.00 a month for an apartment in Seattle, and unbelievably, $29,000 for my first home in the Capital Hill neighborhood.  As everyone knows, those prices are long-gone, never to return.

Returning to the meeting, it started off badly when it was postponed from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM.  Having to attend to some business concerning my cab, I missed the near riot and the calling of the police.   By the time we were all assembled in a small room, I clearly saw that, at least for this day, we would not be making much progress.  A list of demands were presented, including an unrealistic request to reduce the weekly dispatch lease payment from $180.00 to $80.00.  I can say that I did not participate in earlier operator meetings, which probably was a mistake.  I did tell one colleague prior to the meeting that the discount requested was too large, and would be met with disdainful resistance.

And  surprise, surprise, that is exactly was happened.  From there it was a downhill degeneration, with misunderstanding and some shouting taking over.  Where we proceed from here is any one's guess.

Even with time constraints, I will attempt to make more of future planning sessions.  It would be a mistake to repeat yesterday's fiasco.  There isn't any point. While long-term resolution is necessary, what occurred yesterday is counter-productive.  It is simply back to the revolution drawing board and hopefully we will all come up with a better blueprint, remembering never to get the police involved again in our affairs, their involvement certainly beyond sense and necessity.



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

For The Next Few Weeks, Taxi Brevity Will Be The Usual

Last week's post took me over the course of four days to write and correct.  Given that, six months after my return from Europe, my new book remains unfinished, I have to reset priorities and give most of my spare time to completion.  For those of you who wish I was less verbose, your wish, at least over the short term, has been granted.  While I could go back to school, obtain the necessary degrees and start a private therapy (psychology) practise I am still remaining focused of my writing getting me permanently out of taxi.  I am also putting together a push toward the creation of a political ad agency, given my obvious interest in all things political.  Even if that goes forward, my primary purpose there is to make enough money to write full time minus all distractions.  Writing and reading and farming remains the goal I am aiming for this probably last quarter of my life. Yes, being in reasonable health allows me various options but being 62 signals to me it is now or never if I am going to fully live the life I want and desire.  Being a good cabby just isn't enough justification to continue on my present course.  All the big tips coming my way expresses my passenger's gratitude for efficiency but the time is now for me to change and I am getting closer to my taxi exit.  I have done my taxi time. It is that simple, past due for my final release.

Before closing today, I want to provide two amazing examples of "taxi synchronicity" plus news that a big taxi meeting will be occurring tomorrow at Yellow, Wednesday April 27th, 2016.  Since I was elected by a committee of drivers to attend, I will be there.  Drivers representing County and Sea-Tac operators will be there in additional to folks from Teamsters 117.  As I have been saying, finally, given the huge decline in business, my fellow cabbies now realize their very survival is at stake.  I personally believe ultimately we will be okay but the struggle has begun, and just where and how it will end I don't know.  I truly appreciate that a large group of drivers have taken the initiative to organize and proceed forward.  It is a great sign of better things to come.

And upon the amazing and astonishing magical occurrences I sometimes experience, I give two "cases-in-point," one relatively simple, the other more inter-connected and complex.  More than once I have relayed examples of how my last ride of the night very often takes me in the direction home, unexplainable synchronicity at work. This more of that type of thing.

Sunday night I wanted to wash my car at the car wash located next to the Uncle Ike's Marijuana store, Ike's of course handing out free ten dollar car wash cards upon the delivery of yet another "weed" fiend.  Dropping off at a club on 1st Avenue South, 3 women jump in for what is my last fare of the weekend, and where did they go?  Incredibly, 21st and East Union, a mere two blocks from the car wash!  How in the world did that happen?

The other more complicated series of sequences began last Monday afternoon, 4/18/2016 at about 4:15 PM.  Belled into the 7th Avenue PolyClinic, another Yellow stole my fare but the clinic said, here, take this guy, he needs a cab.  I clearly ask the Vietnamese man just how was he was paying, understanding he could be some kind of account fare. Cash, are you paying cash, I asked. Yes, he clearly responded.  It turns out he has hearing issues.

23 dollars later and now on south Beacon Hill I find out he is indeed a HopeLink client.  We worked out a deal that he would pay me in cash and I would do my best to get the authorization  number and then return him his money.  That is how it worked out, and on Saturday afternoon I made it back to his house on the 8600 thousand block of Beacon Avenue South, giving Tan back his money.  We shook hands, with everyone happy with the outcome.

Fast forward to now 2:30 AM Sunday morning and a couple flags me on Capital Hill, taking me back to an address directly next to Tan's.  And the fare?  You guessed it, 23 dollars!  Amazing and amazing, the taxi universe rewarding the honest cabby!

It is obvious that life remains mysterious.  Welcome again to taxi as I know it, in all its nuances and twists and turns across our known and unknown earth.






Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Why Don't We Just Teach People How To Drive A Car? & Immersion Into The Boiling Pot: Dispatching Learning Curve

"We live in an age in which the autonomous individual is ceasing to exist---or perhaps one ought to say, in which the individual is ceasing to have the illusion of being autonomous."

George Orwell, from the 1941 essay "Literature and Totalitarianism," from the collection "My Country Right or Left, 1940-1943"

This past weekend, talking to a couple of taxi buddies, Loon and Ted, both separately mentioned the issue of autonomous or self-driving cars and how they might or will affect us, we the erstwhile cab driving cabbies. Both felt that the advent of such transportation was nigh, Ted saying he expected to see them operational in a mere five years.

During both conversations I voiced skepticism that the United States was anywhere close to that kind of driving revolution, and an article by Mike Monticello in the May 2016 edition of "Consumer Reports,  "The State of the Self-Driving Car," pretty much backing my contention. Speaking to Loon, I said that we were at least 20 years away, and probably much further than that, if ever, before these cars become more than theoretical discussion.

What I told Ted, and I believe to be totally true, is that the "self-driving car" scenario has been intentionally inserted in the cultural conversation by those who will profit from this so-called positive technological innovation. If  you think I am buying into yet another conspiracy theory, consider this quote from the article's introductory pages:

"Google isn't looking to become a car manufacturer, though. Rather, the online-search company wants its software to be the electronic brains of cars built by established automakers."

This concept and approach might sound to familiar to us who are confronting Uber and Lyft, companies utilizing technology that is used by other others, thus reducing risk while enhancing maximum profits.  While never saying  there aren't some well intentioned individuals at Google and other companies, I say it is a wrong-headed approach because self-driving cars takes away responsibility and autonomy  (and accountability) from the individual, transferring it to technology instead of teaching people to be functional and skillful drivers.

The attitude being preached is that humans are fallible, will always remain fallible, and since the human species is hopeless, let technology save the dumbbells from themselves. It is the "why-chop-with-a-knife" philosophy  when instead  you can now use a food processor?  Why tire your brain (and hands) when technology can  do the work for you? Yes, why copulate when you can alternatively impregnate your wife utilizing a sperm bank, even using your own sperm? You like that technological solution?  I bet not!

Another quote succinctly spells this out, saying that the human species are a hopeless lot, and only technological intervention will save us from ourselves:

"We have 1.2 million people killed worldwide, 33,000 killed in the US per year; that's incredible," says Google's Chris Urmson. "The 33,000 number is comparable to a 737 falling out of the sky almost five days a week, which would be completely unacceptable in air travel."

Urmson should have added that annually worldwide 50 million are also injured in car accidents.  No one, and certainly not me, will deny that American roadways are insanely dangerous due to incautious driving.  As I have said to passengers many times before, "The only terrorists I meet are on the roadways, trying to kill you and me and everyone else."  But, isn't the real question posed is just why IS this current reality, and can anything be done to alter what is occurring on America's highways?

To me the answer is fairly simple.  As in any task, one must be fully trained and prepared before you are deemed ready.  If you are going to be a physician, you are facing a minimum of five to seven and even more years of intense medical training.  Another example is the budding concert pianist who usually starts playing  the piano during early childhood, and maybe, just maybe, once reaching their mid-twenties, completely ready for Liszt and and the concert stage.

But to drive a car in the United States most people receive maybe 20-40 hours of actual road training ( if that) before  taking simple written tests and perhaps a 15-30 minutes road test which then allows them to enter the most dangerous man-made environment the world has ever known save active warfare, but statistics say driving is even more hazardous than bombs exploding round your head. Nice thought, isn't it?

That 33,000 driving death figure is in fact a vast  improvement, the USA once averaging 40-50 thousand auto-related deaths annually.  During the Korean War, America suffered over 23,000 deaths during a three-year span.  Over the 15-year span of the Vietnam War, America lost 55,000 plus soldiers.  So let us begin doing some simple math.  2 times 33,000 is 66,000.  4 times 33,000 is 132,000.  10 times 33,000 is 660,000, which more or less matches the total deaths occurring during  the American Civil War, 1861-1865.

Given these horrific figures, why has American high school driving training been eliminated from most  school districts?  Why is driving treated as just another simplistic task equal to walking down the sidewalk?  You can see why none of this making little if any sense.  If you thought all this loss of life was something that needed to be addressed, logic dictates society would be doing everything necessary to end the crisis.  Billions have been put toward cancer research but only mere hours are given to individual driver training.  Is this either reasonable or sane?  I would say not.

So what is interesting is that instead of taking the relatively cheap option of training all potential drivers properly, instead we have all this talk of a very complicated technological change that will cost untold billions to create and bring into reality.  The required 3D mapping will take decades to complete.  And why is 3D mapping necessary?

Instead of me providing the answer, I suggest that everyone do the proper research and reading before repeating the now popular mantra, "We will all be in self-driving cars soon!"   What happens if the American electricity grid fails?.  Or all those orbiting GPS satellites fall out of the sky?  And onto your soft heads!

Why, I ask, does everyone think that our current infrastructure is lasting and sustainable?  Has anyone given this serous thought?  Knowing the human animal like I do, I strongly doubt it.  Why think when you can instead dream of yet another magical technological solution to brighten your future day, thinking requiring effort while dreaming is easy.  All you have to do is go to sleep.  Would you like a pillow?  Just please remember to place it beneath your head and not upon your face and nose, breathing one unavoidable necessity.

And the reason I quote Orwell should be obvious, having warned in his writings about people either being fooled by prevailing authority, or even worse, willingly giving up their personal autonomy by cooperating with the cultural status quo, be that 1930s Soviet Union, Nazi Germany or in the United States 2016.  I am currently reading a book that talks much about societal failure, "A Brief Stopover On The Way From Auschwitz," by the Swedish writer, Goran Rosenberg.  I will be buying copies to give to friends.  Going along then isn't always the best choice.  And that of course is a mild understatement.

Immersion: Yellow's New Call Center---Dealing with the Ding-Dong Cabby

Frustration is clearly the best word to describe the Las Vegas call center's initial introduction into the ever chaotic world that is Seattle taxi.  Having personally dealt with a dispatcher's over reaction on Monday afternoon, it is evident, after talking to two call center supervisors, that they feel desperate dealing with a large percentage of feral cabbies who just won't do the simplest of taxi tasks: making sure they get the passenger into the taxi.

I know it sounds strange but too many drivers fail to do the obvious like calling the passenger or, if the pickup is a house, to get their lazy butt out of the cab and knock upon the door. Why they do this is sometimes puzzling to the outsider but an explanation, or a series of reasons, at least of a kind, does exist. While not justifying a driver's stupid and truly self-defeating behavior, they do have their reasons however inane or distorted or illogical they might be.

The biggest number one reason these individuals fail to pickup the passenger is that they are not taxi drivers at all but only posing, pretending to be what they are not.  Even the most dedicated cabby is someone who would rather be doing something else. The daily stress alone is enough to kill the average elephant so when someone is inserted beneath the top-light minus a second of real training and orientation you get what Las Vegas has discovered---a species of worker insolent, ill-tempered and rude.  And given this very bad beginning, they develop contradictory habits that only become more entrenched as each taxi year slogs by.

Furthering worsening their attitude is the current  deterioration of business, especially easy business, the kind served up upon the taxi platter at the train station.  Why go out and hunt for your next customer when instead you can stand around, gossip with your cabby cronies, and then reluctantly get back into the cab, doing everyone the huge favor by pulling forward and picking up the waiting passengers?

I will say that in today's ever more competitive business environment, even after having a good attitude and working hard hunting down that next fare, there is no sure guarantee of success.  Last Saturday morning I went a full THREE hours without a fare, the  first time ever that has happened in nearly 29 years plying the streets.

And since I do know what I am doing, you can guess what happens to the taxi rookie.  They go absolutely nuts, and in their panic, driving dispatch, as I said, to extreme frustration, not understanding why these guys are constantly screwing up what, as I said, is the relative simple business of getting the passenger into the cab.  But, as I said a few sentences earlier, over-reaction will only inflame what is occurring, making the sulky cabby even less responsive, if that can be imagined!

Current dispatch response in part has been to either send out threatening messages to the perceived recalcitrant taxi fleet, or in some cases, actually de-authorize drivers 30 minutes off the dispatch system.  I advised instead that both Yellow and Las Vegas explore what legal options exist before proceeding even further down a questionable path.

Of course I have suggested to Yellow more times than I can remember to please clarify what they legally can and cannot do when working with independent contractors who clearly ARE NOT in any way, shape or form, employees.  That Yellow has never done this says much about the failures centered around the City of Seattle mandated association system.

And if you think the City of Seattle is interested in finding solutions, you are fantasizing because Seattle's City Council, in all of its lack of wisdom, has eliminated almost all "hands-on" training.  While the previous training efforts were deplorable, what is left is insane, putting drivers out there who cannot find 38th and East Olive. I know this because this past Saturday a Fremont Olympic doorman personally walked up to my taxi and asked, "Do you know how to get to this address?" after the Farwest cabby gave up, this after the out-of-town passengers told him they had no idea how to get there.

Las Vegas has both the City of Seattle, King County and Yellow to thank for the mess they have been given.  But corporal punishment is not the answer.  I might have some solutions but will anyone truly cooperate?  Stay tuned, as I often say.  It would be great to have some kind of resolution before January 2017, and that my friends, might be wildly optimistic.

Gunter Grass poem

Since I have been writing about perceived realities I will end with this incredible statement by the author of  "The Tin Drum."

In The  Egg (German title---Im Ei)

We live in the egg.
We have covered the inside wall
of the shell with dirty drawings
and the Christian names of our enemies.
We are being hatched.

Whoever is hatching us
is hatching our pencils as well.
Set free from the egg one day
at once we shall draw a picture
of whoever is hatching us.

We assume that we're being hatched.
We imagine some good-natured fowl
and write school essays
about the color and breed
of the hen that is hatching us.

When shall we break the shell?
Our prophets inside the egg
for a middling salary argue
about the period of incubation.
They posit a day called X.

Out of boredom and genuine need
we have invented incubators.
We are much concerned about our offspring inside the egg.
We should be glad to recommend our patent
to her who looks after us.

But we have a roof over our heads.
Senile chicks,
polyglot embryos
chatter all day
and even discuss their dreams.

And what if we're not being hatched?
If this shell will never break?
If our horizon is only that
of our scribbles, and always will be?
We hope that we're being hatched.

Even if we only talk of hatching
there remains the fear that someone
outside our shell will feel hungry
and crack us into the frying pan with a pinch of salt.
What shall we do then, my brethren inside the egg?


______________________________________________

from the German translation by Michael Hamburger,
taken from   "20th Century German Poetry, An Anthology,"
edited by Michael Hofmann,
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
2005




























Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Vulnerability & San Francisco Taxi & Is The Seattle Taxi Industry Insurrection Just Round The Cabby Corner?

Always, and beyond anything else this weekly missive from the taxi underworld conveys and presents, it is the kind of taxi reality not generally apparent or obvious to the normal riding public.  History as usually presented offers a general overview that leaves much of everyday detail unspoken and unwritten.  Though cultural histories do exist displaying everyday existence, they are rare, most historians focusing upon central figures and events like kings and queens and plagues and earthquakes.  What you don't see much of is how, for example, the average urban  Italian family in 1348 dealt with dying sons and daughters during the Black Plague.  You instead just encounter numeration counts of deaths, not the intimate details of pain and suffering.  While numbers are helpful, they do not and never will describe a mother's tears.

Similarly, here in 21st Century USA, most people know taxi (in whatever limited form) from movie images of taxis plying New York Manhattan streets or film characters portraying the deranged cabby. Obviously one percent of the story is not the tale in whole.  What and where is the remaining 99 percent of typical current taxi reality?

While not even close to the full percentage, even a possible 20 more or less percent  discovered here in these pages provide real hints of what is actually occurring on a daily basis.  I thought of this while again signing into 478's taxi computer early Saturday morning.  The only way for you to understand is to tell you, communicating the "wear and tear" of a rough and tumble profession.

Every time I log on I expect something bad or stupid has happened, beginning yet another shift I truly have no interest in doing, fearing that some unknown complaint or issue has resulted with once again having to respond to utter and complete nonsense.  I find vulnerability in parallel attached to everything I know about driving taxi, be it erroneous complaint or near death-causing collisions or simply the prosaic waiting two hours for an ever elusive fare.  This kind of stress is killing, wounding me and every other cabby I know.

Recently I have had a telephone stalker who got my number from calling them during a pickup.  Who wants yet another crazy situation when taxi is non-stop madness as it is?  Yes, being a cabby means you are public property, somehow providing permission to the misguided to do whatever they want.  I thought the person had gone away but maybe not, contact again I think was attempted yesterday.  Talk about vulnerability.

Of course it is nuts, and of course, welcome to taxi as it really is.  As I have said here and to many passengers, I am fortunate to be driving in fairly well-behaved Seattle.  Working in a real city like New York or Chicago it would be daily "Octopusville," with both male and female customers requesting more than I am interested in providing.  Too many people I find think life is some version of television programming, not understanding in my case I am real flesh and blood and not some image beamed into the cab's interior.

Fun stuff, huh?   Not really, taxi brothers and sisters, not really, no, not at all. Release me from this mobile asylum.  I can't take it no more, no more!  And more than that, I simply neither want or need it.  Crazy!

San Francisco Taxi

Recently I have been made aware of how organized the San Francisco taxi industry is.  Watching two "you tube" videos outlining what is wrong about about "rideshare" companies (Uber, Lyft) tells me these folks have their act together.  What particularly impressed me were the association managers taking clear and defiant positions regarding Uber and Lyft incursion into regulated markets, something tragically missing from Seattle's taxi associations.  If only, is all I can say, Seattle's capitulation forever haunting us.

To that end, I am visiting San Francisco's taxi world May 10-13th.  I am looking forward to it.  Despite everything, I like taxi.  At least I understand it, and that of course being a slight understatement.

Seattle Taxi Rebellion?

Yesterday, half-dead from working too late on Monday night, a fare from Seattle to Olympia sweetening the pot but lengthening  the taxi day, I attended a driver meeting voicing various issues concerning Yellow dispatch.  "No business" appears to have finally aroused the taxi proletariat. Glad to both see and hear and witness it.  We'll see where it proceeds.  As anyone familiar with taxi knows, it takes much to get the ordinary drivers attention.  It has been "got" and thank goodness for that.  About time is all I can and will say.








Tuesday, April 5, 2016

It's An Uber Sea-Tac Jamboree But How Can Regulatory Governance Be Just Another Rodeo?

 Being perhaps an utter simpleton, I'll answer my somewhat rhetorical question like this.  Why, when it comes to government and money, does ethics fly out the door, be it a municipal, county, state or federal portal?  Again, risking foolishness, once in a position of public trust and responsibility, why do elected and appointed officials suddenly develop a new body part, a very specialized third hand with elongated fingers especially useful for gripping money, a physical attribute similar to a monkey's prehensile tail?

I pose this conundrum after finding out that the Port (Sea-Tac) of Seattle has allowed Uber, upon its initial operational days, to give free rides from Sea-Tac to downtown Seattle.  Uber is also offering future $15.00 discounts to anyone who signs up with their app service.  They are also using this occasion to promote their group-ride "carpooling" service, matching riders who are going to like destinations.

To the unfamiliar, all this might sound wonderful because you are blissfully ignorant of one very important and cogent point: Seattle Yellow Cab paid a bunch of money (in the millions) for the right to take over from STITA.  At least to dumbbell me it would seem only fair to treat your current service providers (now over five years) with deference and respect, and can I go so far as to say, protection.  Allowing Uber to blatantly undercut your current taxi contract providers makes little sense unless there is an accompanying logic.  And just what could that be?

One possible explanation is good old fashioned retribution.  While there is no indisputable legal evidence that Seattle Yellow did underpay the Port of Seattle up to five million dollars, there is certainly a lingering suspicion that is what actually occurred.  The fact that something did happen, whether intentional or not, has upset the operational apple cart.

I do know how the Port feels.  Despite my best efforts to communicate that someone is responsible for my ruined snow tires, all I receive is silence, and I am talking about $700.00, not millions of dollars. So while understanding the Port's frustration, it doesn't  seem reasonable to punish the innocent, hard working Yellow Sea-Tac drivers who have nothing to do with any possible malfeasance.

Another possible plausible answer is simply ( by their standards) going with the clear winner, which is where money comes in, influencing opinion and potential governmental action.  The ongoing rhetoric surrounding Uber is that it saves the urban environment as we know it. For further investigation, consult the current online edition of Sierra Club's Insider newsletter, and the Steven Green article, "Is The Sharing Economy Truly Green?"  Possible environmental and local economic benefits could provide cover for going with a rich, well-funded (61 billion dollars) company who takes care of its friends and supporters.  What obvious benefit comes from embracing the taxi industry?  That answer is clear.

Ethics then become very transferable, very little lost when choosing the trendy cultural front runner, it not mattering if Uber operators have current for-hire licenses or 24/7 viable insurance, especially if the public isn't paying attention.  City officials say that legally, there is supposed to be a two-day turn around concerning for-hire background checks. That this isn't happening says everything about about governmental oversight concerning TNC companies. Could the slogan be, "Why care when you don't have to?"

Many governments, especially authoritarian governments, act like this.  Is Seattle becoming some kind of odd combination of Turkmenistan, China, Russia, Egypt, Venezuela  and Morocco?  I hope not because that is a lot institutional obstruction for such a medium-sized city.  Even with the win blowing off Elliott Bay, how could we breath?  It would be difficult if not impossible, pollution obscuring vision, clogging the lungs.  Can this still be the Evergreen State, with all its free-flowing rivers and driving rain?

Let's hope not is my final thought, Seattle and King County somehow prepared to become a kind of business-oriented extremest stronghold. Seattle once was the home to the Wobblies labor movement but that was nearly 100 years ago.  Where have we all gone wrong, idealism not taking a left turn but a perpetual never ending circle, round and round in a country & western square dance, marking the beginning of the hoedown prancing over reason and goodness and morality, the rodeo just beginning in the cultural corral.  Yes, swing those partners round and round to the fiddle's sound, Agnes deMille and Arron Copeland and Martha Graham clapping hands, clapping hands, as round and round and falling down we go, where and how this all concludes I certainly don't know.





Friday, April 1, 2016

No, It Doesn't Cost $83.00 To Take A Taxi From Sea-Tac To Downtown---A Very Erroneous TV Telecast

Yesterday afternoon KIRO TV reported that, versus Uber and Lyft rates of $25-27.00 from Sea-Tac Airport to downtown Seattle, a taxi will cost you anywhere from $46-83.00.  And the shocking source for this misinformation, according to the helpful woman I spoke to at KIRO, was Yellow Cab itself.

After speaking to her, I called everyone I know who could have been involved, including the new Las Vegas call center, and so far I have no idea who the KIRO reporter spoke to.  Probably I never will because confusion plus incompetence equals anarchy and chaos, meaning no one will ever take responsibility for damaging our product, which of course hurts the more or less 2000 cabbies driving taxi in Seattle and King County.  Sadly most of them will never know that the erroneous report occurred.  I know because my night driver happened to be watching the news.  Thanks Raymond, I appreciate the information.

I ask you, if you were someone watching that newscast, who would you choose to take you downtown?  Of course the answer is obvious.  The real rates (more or less, given traffic conditions and routes taken) are as follows:

Sea-Tac to:

Pioneer Square (King Street Station):  $40-42.00

Business District (4th & Columbia):  $42-44.00

Downtown Proper (4th & Pike):  $44.-46.00

Belltown (6th & Lenora):  $46.00

The regulated flat-rate from DT  (including all of lower Queen Anne) to Sea-Tac is:

$40.00

And if you were to take a $83.00 cab ride from Sea-Tac north-bound, you would end up either in Montlake Terrance or Edmonds or perhaps even shallow Lynnwood.  In other words, that $83.00 quote is not based upon any functional reality.  Quite simply, someone misspoke.  There is no other answer.  I also wonder about the KIRO reporter responsible for the story.   How could this wide discrepancy in fares go unnoticed? Had the reporter just moved to Seattle last week, having no understanding of set municipal borders?  Very puzzling.   Just how could there be a $37.00 differential in fares from one end of downtown to the other, over a total distance of one more or less mile?  Not possible has be the logical response.

Anyway,the damage has been done.  I've asked KIRO to do a retraction.  We will see, is all I can say. When I contacted the Las Vegas call center, an irritated "supervisor" connected me  to a number and I left a message for who I have no idea.  Ain't taxi fun!?   Ha Ha Ha!

And PS:  Yesterday someone connected to Lyft left a comment upon my blog offering discounts.  I guess I am glad someone has a sense of humor.  I thought I was being monitored.  Now I know it.  BIG UBER & LYFT are watching!   Is this anything like "1984?"




Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sea-Tac Invasion---Uber & Lyft & Wingz Begin Operating At Seattle's Airport Thursday March 31st, 2016

While there have been previous TNC (Uber, Lyft, etc) inroads at Sea-Tac, with surrogates either picking up Uber passengers, or Uber drivers themselves, it seems, picking up on the ticket counter level minus official attention and intervention, a major change is the offing.   Last Tuesday, upon staff planning and recommendation, the Port of Seattle has adopted a one year "pilot" program allowing TNC operation upon the third floor, sharing space with taxis and other providers.  Sixty spaces will be provided, along with a nearby parking lot holding one hundred and sixty cars.

Though at first sounding like a reasonable compromise, a logical response to public demand, it isn't when you realize that Sea-Tac, as far I know, will be potentially open to over 14,000 TNC operators.  Currently, the Yellow taxis serving Sea-Tac are capped at 250, meaning the disparity is both illogical and unfair.  My cab is not eligible because it is only has a city plate.  Even if all Seattle and King County licensed taxis were allow to work the airport, we would still be only looking at just over 900 cars so the math in this case, is distorted, making little sense.

Again, I must remind everyone that TNC companies were initially capped at 250 cars per company until Mayor Murray's intervention.  As I have been saying all along, and will keep repeating, how  and why did this all come about?  An interesting question that, to my taxi mind, requires a real answer.  Is anybody else curious?

There are some conditions, primarily that the TNC cars must average 43 miles per gallon, and of course a per ride fee plus a lump sum fee of  $100,000 for permission to join the one-year pilot program.  If there are requirements to have on-site supervisors, like Yellow must have, I have not heard of any so far.  I would think this would be very important to ensure that only currently app-registered TNC operators are picking up Sea-Tac passengers.

 If you don't think this is important, think again, because earlier today, an old friend told me he used an Uber operator this past Saturday who DID NOT originate the ride through the app.  In fact this rogue Uber operator provided TWO trips minus the app, meaning, as I told my friend, "you were riding in an uninsured car."  Given Seattle Port Authority liability, these kinds of shenanigans should not be happening at Sea-Tac, because obviously, due to safely concerns, illegal operation creating unnecessary dangers for a trusting and unaware public.

Of equal interest, I am told that, on April 4th, Sea-Tac will announce the results of who won the RFP derby, telling us which combination of operators will be providing taxi or taxi-like service for the next five years. Given Sea-Tac's TNC pilot program, will it really matter?  One might rightfully ask if the Port Authority really cares what happens to both the taxi industry and the current loyal group of drivers serving Sea-Tac?  Like other questions concerning regulatory decisions, I will let you form your own conclusions.

Why Is Washington State Labor & Industry Prosecuting Tacoma Yellow Cab?

In last week posting, I attempted to tell everyone why certain decisions are made by describing the kind of people making them.  While agreeing or not to my premise, I find personal vindication in the Port TNC decision, and again, in the legal action WA St L&I has taken against Tacoma Yellow Taxi, this stemming from something allegedly occurring some time 2007, yes, nearly 10 years ago.

Back during those early dark days of what is now known as the "Great Recession," Tacoma Yellow was operating with about 18 insured cars out of a fleet of approximately fifty taxis.  A similar situation is happening now at Seattle Yellow, with many cars sitting on the new lot essentially "mothballed," currently licensed but not insured.

What L&I did in 2007 was count all 50 cars as completely operational even though Tacoma Yellow has the insurance records proving otherwise.  This occurred even after Tacoma Yellow had agreed in 2007 to a legal compromise with L&I, paying L&I  insurance on all operational vehicles.  L&I, all these years later, are accusing Yellow of lying despite of what appears to be indisputable evidence proving their innocence.

Is Tacoma Yellow being picked on?  Again, do the research and come to your own conclusion.  I encourage the folks at L&I to do the same.  Maybe L&I could instead put some time and energy into determining whether TNC drivers are actually employees, and not the independent operators Uber and Lyft say they are. But Uber alone has 61 billions dollars to hire the world's best legal team.  That dollar amount  might explain what is going on a regulatory and administrative level all over the State of Washington.  When I was passing through Las Vegas in late November 1977 someone told that in Vegas "Money talks and bullshit walks!" Very possibly true, might you agree?