After a 5 1/2 hour bus ride from Smerek, a tiny community on the edge of Bieszczadzki National Park, I am back for two nights in Krakow before flying back to Paris for the last three nights of my trip. Upon leaving Sanok Tuesday morning I paid for a bus to Wetlina only to discover the guest house I was staying was about 2 km north, in Smerek. The only advantage to having stayed in equally minute Wetlina is its location next to the "Yellow" trail into the park, which was the route I ultimately took on Wednesday, hiking up a mountain, past the colorful (and informative, if you read Polish---within the park resides an adder---vipera berus berus) park boundary sign, and up and up and up to the most wonderful grassy ridge line. Though still too low in elevation to be called "alpine" or "sub-alpine," this surprising grassland was still above the local treeline. Incredible views awaited me both to the west and the east on what was the one fair day out of the three. The eastward view was an unending horizon of wooded mountains stretching to the Ukraine and Slovakia. If I had rented a car in Sanok (good idea past-tense) I would have visited both countries yesterday. Check out a good map of Poland and you will see why that was possible. Coming back via the "Red" trail almost crippled my poor taxi body due to the extremely steep decent. Crawling into bed I was seriously concerned I was injured but morning brought me some recovery, enabling me later to walk a short distance on another leg of the "Red" trail that thankfully was flat, at least to the point I took it to. Gathering some "wild" apples I had found, I fed the hungry ponies in a field adjacent to my guest house. Fall is definitely "apple season" in Poland. Delicious apples abound!
More Taxi Lottery Info
Beginning Monday October 19th, 2015, everyone with the following qualifications (five years driving taxi at least 30 hours a week; and/or 10 consecutive years of holding a for-hire license) can go down to South Dearborn Street, along with both your for-hire and WA State driving licenses and apply to get one of 90 medallions that are to be issued in 2015 and 2016. One point I am not clear upon is whether you are disqualified if you are a current medallion owner. I will let you know later on that issue. There is a way to put your name in via an absentee application and I will also provide that info to you soon, probably when I am in Paris. While I was surprised on the number of new medallions to be released, that might have been sparked by the Seattle City Council receiving requests to deregulate the entire industry, allowing unlimited entry. While understanding emotion, does little Seattle really require the combined transportation equivalent (taxi, flat-rate for hire, town-car, TNC/ride-share) matching NYC's 13,000 Yellow cabs?
A few figures tells us the entire story. Current NYC metropolitan census figures say there are between (depending on the area applied, which includes nearby suburban areas of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania) 20-23.6 million residents. Combined Seattle & King County residents (our service area) is, according to 2010 census figures, 1,322,589. Even with the population growth over the past two years, we don't come close to the NYC figures.
I estimate, including the town-cars, we have about 8000 full and part-time independent operators trying to make a living with a population base that is one-22nd in size to NYC. Even if you add the area reaching to Everett to the north and all the way down to Olympia to the south, as some data does, we still see a figure of just over 4 million residents. The entire state of Washington has, according to the 2010 census, 6,724, 546 residents; with an estimated 2014 census of 7,006,530. The entire state of New York, not counting the out-of-state areas that make up metro NYC, is just under 20 million. So why have so many independent operators been added, with more on the way? Good question, isn't it?
Kind of Funny, But Not
I finally get around to writing an email to one of the Port of Seattle Commissioners voicing my concern about the pending Sea-Tac contract renewal and rumors of wrong doing, and what kind of reply do I receive? Why only to be put on the person's mailing list, which included the most recent posting praising that arch-enemy of the taxi industry, the now deposed Jean Godden. Are you laughing? I'm not!