Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Greetings From San Francisco's Glen Park/Silk Road Library: SB 5550 & Other Taxi Tidbits

A low airfare offer prompted me to detour south for a couple days to my favorite West Coast city and visit its wonderful de Young Art museum once again.  I will also be talking to an old friend about my political ad agency scheme.  Reading "This Town" by Mark Leibovich, a non-fictional examination of Washington DC's assorted political bigwigs and characters and "hanger-ons" tells me that my interest in getting more deeply involved is warranted.  I can't recommend the book more highly.  You may want to keep some smelling salts handy.  While entertaining, Leibovich's book is also simultaneously nauseating.  Ah yes, human behavior again at its worse. 

Glen Park is my old San Francisco neighborhood, having lived here when rent was cheap (our flat was $300.00 monthly) way back in 1979-82.  The Glen Park Library is also where the Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht conducted his illicit on-line drug business until the FBI took him away.  Who knows but I could be seated at the very desk that Ulbricht sat enabling the world at large to get high if not mighty.  Last week in Seattle I saw a young man wearing a Silk Road emblazoned jacket.  I wondered if he knew that his hero is now in a Federal jail?  Me, I could care less about such things, not having even a sip of alcohol for over a month, having more important matters on my mind, like good, old taxi and how it continues to be shafted.  Now that is important.

In yesterday's  (Monday 02/23/2015) edition, the Seattle Times editorial page featured an opinion entitled "State Should Regulate Ride Services," a pro TNC (Uber, Lyft, Sidecar) piece endorsing the Washington State Senate bill SB5550 sponsored by WA State Senator Cryus Habib, D-Kirkland.  What SB5550 proposes is a transfer of regulatory authority from the municipal to the State, giving them more freedom than they already enjoy.

What the Seattle Times editorial fails to say is that, 1) Habib's bill was DOA, and 2) the Seattle Times editorial is an attempt for a Lazarus-like resurrection and, 3) SB5550 has been rewritten by a taxi industry representative to make it more digestible, and that, 4)  the new rewrite was an attempt to once again  sidestep those somewhat questionable friends of the taxi industry, Teamsters 117.  Time will tell if the Seattle Times effort comes to fruition and propels SB5550 into becoming finished law. My opinion is that literally no one understands what trouble the administrators in Seattle caused for all concerned.  Heaven please save us from the blindly theoretical!

If I wasn't so thoroughly personally impacted by Uber and its ilk, I would find all this hoopla over a fairly minor technological application sadly amusing.  All Uber is is nothing but a disassociated dispatch service and little else.  Does it make the pubic safer? No.  Does it save the pubic money?  Only occasionally as its infamous price surges attest.  Does it improve customer response time?  Again, only occasionally, with many Uber customers calling Yellow instead.  And does it greatly benefit the individual attempting to make a full-time living from providing a taxi-like service?  Part-timers, yes, but only if you already have a new car.  A recent USA Today report gave annual Uber earnings at just under $17,000.  Uber slashed its San Francisco rates to $1.50 per mile.  Seattle's Uber rates are $1.35 per mile but I was given unconfirmed information that they have been further reduced  to $1.09 per mile.  Regardless our regulated Seattle/King County taxi rates are $2.70 per mile.  We can't lower them even if we want to.  Again, thank you very much Mister Mayor and those wonderful Seattle City Council members!  Soon, and possibly this week, look for a posting which will be addressed to Tom, Nick and Sally.  I am sure they can't wait to read more of my distorted wisdom.

Uber Related Website

Somebody sent me this link.  Check it out and be amazed or something like that.


I am beginning to receive the impression that there are some who are not particularly fond of Uber.  I don't understand why.  It is a mystery to me!

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