Monday, June 17, 2013

Requested By Mark: What Do All Those Numbers Mean?

I had a bunch of airport runs yesterday, one of them originating in the late afternoon from Phinney Ridge, where I met Mark who was on his way to Sea-Tac.  He was curious about all those numbers he continually sees on the MDT or taxi computer which represent zones or various parts of the greater city and King County.  After I explained a fairly simple system he described as "trying to read Chinese" he thought it would be good to tell everyone how it works. Upon special request then, you now have the following details about the taxi altar because it is truly that important.  Without all that fare and "bell" information coming through I would instead be sitting on a hotel stand totally at the mercy of passengers coming out of one isolated portal, meaning that particular hotel.  It is the worst way to make money.  Utilizing the great number of calls shown on the taxi computer is best, allowing you a far more expansive playing field.  What the successful cabbie wants and needs is as many "scoring" options available.  I will forever remain amazed and appalled that so many drivers choose to sit on a hotel while the MDT is crammed with waiting fares.  There is dumb and then there is stupid.

The MDT screen is capable of displaying multiple pages which are accessed by simply scrolling up or down.  As computers goes it is a fairly basic machine.  The numbers Mark expressed interest in represents the city and county divided in areas or districts.  For instance, the neighborhood or part of town known as West  Seattle is divided into four zones.  Seattle is a city of hills and West Seattle is one very long hill, extending north from the Puget Sound before tapering and leveling off in White Center and Burien.

Beginning from the north end of West Seattle it begins with zone 260 and known as the Admiral District. Continuing south in consecutive order are the 262, the Alaska Junction, the 265 which is the Fauntleroy Junction and finally zone 500 which encompasses greater White Center, Top Hat and Arbor Heights.  Heading to North Seattle the University District is divided roughly into zones 150, 155, 120, 125 with the all important University of Washington Medical Center given its own sub-zone, the 152.  The primary reason the zones are sized the way they are is to keep the driving distance down.  When West Seattle was designated as one zone it was a complete misery flying from north to south and all points in between.

Each zone designation has two side by side boxes.  The box on the right states how many cars there are waiting in the zone.  The box to the left tells how many fares are waiting.  All of this is of course vital information.  When a call is not quickly matched with a driver, the call information migrates to the BID screen. 

When the call comes through there is all of the fare information to be noted.  And that is about it other than we currently use the MDT to obtain credit or debit card approvals.  Once a new system is in place that may change.  Don't ask me for anything affirmative because " what do I know?" I know nothing or it definitely seems that way when it comes to taxi driving though of course I will never admit it.

People Are Going Places

Our society, at least for some of the greater demographic, have great opportunity.  My first late Sea-Tac fare last night was flying to Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The second guy was going to Hilton Head, South Carolina.  The fourth fare, also a businessman was heading to Memphis, Tennessee.  The third fare were two young students flying back to Thailand. That fare was a bit humorous because one of the pieces of luggage was nearly as tall as the woman. What wasn't funny was that I didn't have the telephone number and the big complex that is 600 SW Kenyon Street is locked after dark.  It isn't far fetched to say that the only reason they got to Sea-Tac is because I answered the call.  When I finally got the number I was talking to someone who could barely speak English and wasn't at the same location as the fare. Confusing and that is understating it. 

My Last Fare

Trying to end the weekend I still got a final fare to Mercer Island.  Nice guy who wanted to talk and all I wanted to do was eat dinner and quit for the night.  Always remember that when driving on Mercer Island at two in the morning the police are watching.  Do not speed.  The cops there are notorious. 

 Not So Wiley

Late Saturday bar-rush I encountered a coyote near the intersection of Rainier Avenue South and South Charles Street.  The poor canine looked lost.  I hope it found an acceptable greenbelt to hide in.  Or perhaps it was looking for some rabbit chow mien.

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