This morning taxi colleagues Chris, an industry lobbyist and Abebe, the president of Seattle Yellow taxi and me got to spend a bit of time with Sally Clark, the current president of the Seattle City Council. As many already know, yesterday a city council sub-committee had their opening hearing on that subject of great interest to us, regulation of the taxi and for-hire car and limo (town car) industries. KOMO TV did a report on the issue yesterday. See their website for their coverage which I personally give a C minus grading because it did not inform anyone about the historical background, meaning how we got to this impasse, to this mire of bureaucratic incompetence.
Today we delivered a firm message. We want real enforcement regarding the for-hires' illegal passenger pick-ups on Seattle streets. We placed the responsibility upon where it belongs, the "unthinking" decisions made by the City of Seattle that encouraged the formation of an essentially unregulated and parallel industry that is in direct competition with taxis. We outlined the enforcement failures which I have dubbed the "theatre of the absurd." Any other crime or multiple violations of this magnitude, perhaps numbering weekly in the low thousands, would prompt an immediate intervention by municipal authorities. Instead we get a report heralding the approximate fifty for-hire citations that the city issued over a 90-day period.
If these same fellows were pickpocketing us they would be quickly apprehended. But isn't it the same crime as they stop and pick up passengers that in any other situation would be ours? The for-hire industry is stealing our fares, and making it worst, simultaneously seeking validation. Amazingly, they are asking for their thefts to be vindicated by the City of Seattle. How can anyone take their position seriously? Why would they? Do you?
Yesterday it was mentioned, and repeated today that the city council thinks it would be a good idea to have the for-hires represented upon the taxi commission. What both a laughable and horrendous suggestion that is. Isn't that like asking the mugger who hit you over the head to now sit down to dinner and forget all about it. "Pass the butter, please!" and "Oh, thank you!"
Ms. Clark is a good council member, very thoughtful and thorough but for at least as long as I am associated with the commission, I will not sanction the for-hires or the limo industry's (as had been suggested by former council member Jan Drago) entry upon what is our sacred territory. As I have suggested, and will continue to press for, is a commission comprised and occupied solely by taxi industry members. If the for-hires survive this process, which they well may not, let them have their own commission. Water and oil does not mix. We did not invite them to our party. And what happens when we called the regulatory police in? They tell us to hold hands and be happy. This is not an acceptable response from the city. Again, this is not in any manner acceptable. It is insulting.
Today found the three of us compliant and friendly, willing to listen to proposals. Sally Clark is still in an initial stage of gathering information. She will also be attending the next taxi commission meeting April 2nd, 2013 at 9:30 AM, Level 2 at the city hall. Yes today we were cooperative, taking a wait-and-see stance. But if I am reading the taxi tea-leaves correctly, the industry will have to respond before all of the demand studies and the various council hearings are completed. In short, we want action, we want enforcement, and we want it now. We have been waiting patiently for over three years. It is unreasonable for anyone on the city council or in the mayor's office to think we should continue to trust their leadership. We know where they want to take us. And it is to a destination that we not willing to go. We don't want to go there. We will not go there. You will be going there alone.
In an unfamiliar city and need to know how much a taxi is from point A to B? Then go to taxifarefinder.com and use their site to calculate the fare. She-Who-Can't-Be-Named, using their system, calculated what the fare would be from my old co-op apartment up on 15th & E. Olive Street to my sister's address near Carkeek Park. She got an estimate of $28.00 during normal traffic which sounds correct to me. They also gave estimates based on medium and heavy traffic times. I was impressed and I bet you will be too! So next time you are in Paris.........