Thursday, August 9, 2012

Too Much in Two Weeks

So much, too much has been happening while I have been trying to enjoy the summer during vacation breaks in eastern Washington and central Oregon.  While I was relaxing the taxi world of course kept rolling down the road.  The Sea-Tac based Yellow drivers protested the town car/limo presence at the airport, making a ruckus at Port of Seattle facilities. The Seattle City Council passed the L&I connected meter rate increase.  On Saturday a Teamsters sponsored taxi organizational meeting was held, attracting a sum total of five drivers.  A petition drive directed toward the "for hire car" industry is building momentum, with me as of yet failing to create the petition form.  A gentleman from a local taxi insurance firm wants me to consider creating both a newsletter and taxi-oriented advertising.  Tuesday was our monthly commission meeting and I was elected chair of the commission. Yesterday I also attended the quarterly TAG (Taxi Advisory Group) meeting.  And simmering on the back burner is the unresolved issue of past Department of Labor & Industry audit requests.  All of this means I am about to swoon , fainting upon the floor.  At least I'll have a clear landing as she who can't be named swept in and made my joint habitable. I was working on it but one could hardly tell. In the battle of Sagittarius the Archer vs that organized goat Capricorn, Ms Angora clearly won!

Craig Leisy, from Seattle's Consumer Affairs office, making presentations at both the commission and TAG meetings outlined their current for-hire and limo enforcement strategies.  They have been doing some effective work.  Contained in a proposed Taxicab & For Hire Vehicle Seattle City Council bill are some tough new provisions like no vehicle color scheme and the removal of those false top lights.  Also various violations would be upgraded to Class C, meaning the fines are much higher.  One suggested change I complained about was requiring taxi drivers to open the doors for their customers.  I can tell you from repeated personal experience that they don't even do that in merry old London.  I said that the drivers would find that kind of rule demeaning.  And when has the world been able to legislate commonsense?  Not recently as far as I know.

On my first vacation leg I finally finished that volume of essay by John Burroughs entitled "Fresh Fields." I especially enjoyed the 74 page long essay about British writer Thomas Carlyle entitled "A Sunday in Cheyne Row."  If you ever want to know my "inner workings" then I suggest reading it because clearly to me Carlyle and I truly match values and temperament.  Quite remarkable reading about myself!  In my various stacks waiting to be read is Carlyle's history of the French Revolution. I will have to check the guy out.

Saturday morning I encountered two true characters from earliest taxi days.  M____ used to sleep in the tiniest of camper trailers at the corner of 11th and Madison of all places and S_____ who at that moment was pushing a walker while demanding every detail concerning my taxi morning.  They both once drove for the Panos brothers during the era when many, many Greeks plied the local taxi streets.  More upon my old comrades and the early days  when I have more descriptive energy.  Time to hit the taxi hay!

And a late, day after post script:  If anyone is wondering why there is so much conflict in the passenger pick-up market place between your standard cabbies vs for-hire and limo drivers it all comes down to extremely simple mathematics: too many for-hire driver licensees vs the actual number of available taxis.  Latest statistics dating from the year 2011 states that there are 3, 225 individuals holding for-hires.  Go back to the year 2000 the figure was 2095 meaning there were in 2011 (and I sure the figure now is higher) over 1100 new drivers seeking cars.  The current number of Seattle & King County taxis available is 929, which makes it clear that there are far more people seeking cars than there are shifts available.  Out of that number there are 241 solely King County licensed cabs translating into an inferior ability to make money.  This leaves a remainder of 688 prime taxis that are either city-plated or dual (city & KC) plated.  These figures display the current conflict.  As I have suggested more than once to Seattle & KC officials, there needs to be a limit on the number of new for-hire driver licenses issued annually or even a temporary moratorium.  Something has to be done other than issuing licenses for non-existent positions.  It makes little sense but this is when I say welcome to taxi as we all know and love it.


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