Only fellow cabbies will understand that adding a mere part of one additional shift is enough to upset your personal schedule, because that is what is happening to me since I took over YC 478. Since my night driver calls off on Mondays, my brief insertion in the cab impacts my entire week, requiring more sleep, and most importantly for what you are reading, a day to two day delay in composition and publication. I tell passengers and others that I don't have time to drive taxi, that I am too busy but since it is my sole income source for the moment, here I am, and continuing until I am somewhere else. Of course that means the ending of this blog but I never meant it to be a personal version of an expanding universe. I have had enough of the taxi world. I am ready for another planet.
Uber Driver Report Continued
About 3 weeks ago my Uber friend called me back, again on a Saturday night. While I find it all interesting, it is difficult to take down notes while negotiating a taxi and make money doing it. He did want me to say that his inspection took place immediately, finding my report about delays erroneous. He did say that he remained without a valid for-hire license. What is interesting about this is that I got my permanent renewal license last week, meaning it took about 3 weeks total to process all of the paperwork, check out my background and issuing my license. Why then is it taking 5 or more months (if not an entire year) for Uber and Lyft to finish their for-hire license processing? I have alerted the City regulatory authorities. We will see how they respond, or not. My friend did report that his minimum Uber fare translates down to $2.45 per trip, which means if he gets 5 minimum fares in one hour he nets $12.25 cents. Of course the usual Seattle taxi minimum is $5.00, equaling times five fares into $25.00, meaning Uber drivers are making half of what I do.
Another part of that slow Uber processing are the background checks. Per the incident in Kalamazoo, Michigan, it means that even if the guy's record had not been clean, how quickly would they have had known? Months, years? What clearly Uber and Lyft appears to be doing is putting drivers on the streets before they know they are qualified to be there. Does this mean that every Uber and Lyft driver is an unanswered question? I will let you answer that.
BYG No More
Yellow, once known as the BYG (Broadway-Yellow-Greytop) Co-op, is now known as Yellow Fleet. This is a new legal definition.
To Tow or Not
When a friend's broken down Yellow Cab was left sitting at the train station, I discovered a new, unbeknown reality: drivers must now pay for their own tow and deduct the cost from their lease. Two potential problems with this, especially if you don't have a credit card. One, you must have the cash on hand, and two, a simple tow within Seattle is okay but what happens if, after a long fare, say to Portland, Oregon, your taxi breaks down? The driver would have to pay for a $500-1000. or more tow. This arrangement has to be given more thought. At the very least everyone should be receiving a fleet-wide notification.
Also this sounds like a new contractual agreement. Something needs to be put into writing.
Puget Sound Dispatching Direct Depositing
A new arrangement PSD is beginning March 1st is having our processed charges deposited directly into our back accounts. Two important questions. Can a driver, uncomfortable with giving out personal info, opt out? The other is what happens if PSD somehow loses your deposit, with your bank never receiving the transaction? What is the PSD backup plan? It would make sense to ensure that some safeguards are in place.
Last Tuesday Meeting With Teamsters 117
Last Tuesday I met with Teamsters officials about their opposition to HB 2733, a bill that might have lowered taxi insurance rates state-wide. They said it it was a matter of not lessening local authority.
One area I think we have some disagreement is the Seattle mayor's recent Uber decisions. Teamsters said Mayor Murray saved the local taxi industry by getting Uber to drop their state-wide referendum drive switching regulatory authority from the City of Seattle and King Country to the State of Washington. It is difficult to see how what once was a limit of 250 Uber cars to what is now estimated to be 10-14 thousand Uber operators as a victory for local taxi? If you needed to understand just why Yellow has dissolved into its present state, you have your answer.
One strong positive was the reopening of lines of communication and cooperation. This will be necessary if and when we, the drivers and single owners of the Seattle and King County taxi industry form some version of taxi union/taxi trade association. Teamsters support and backing and experience will be essential toward our ultimate success.
I Saw It
When coming back from Mexico, I saw the new Yellow taxi lot at 107th and Meyers Way South from the air as we made our final landing approach. It was hard to miss, all those bright yellow cars.
New Call Center
They are getting better. Yes, small mistakes at times do occur but they are eager to get it right. Clearly they are taking a "crash-course" in everything taxi. I can tell they are quickly learning both the taxi good and the bad. Good luck and best wishes to them.
The older gentleman waved to me from his apartment building doorway. "I am hungry," he said, wanting to go to a restaurant at 12th S. and S. Jackson. He asked how much and I told him a million dollars but finally agreed to five dollars. Arriving, he tightly gripped his 20 dollars bill, not letting it go until I gave him his fifteen dollars in change. I showed him my wallet and he made a snatching motion. We both smiled. Poverty! and the human condition.
Concerning Taxi, Is Everything Backward?
When I took over YC 478, I bought new set of snow tires for the winter season. Instead of having them installed by the tire shop, I had the Yellow shop put them on. Well I am shocked to report that I was told, when taking 478 in to have the tires rotated and getting an alignment, that the tires were put on backward, causing some unnecessary tread wear. I have yet to determine whether my warranty has been destroyed by the mistake. Why is always the question. Why did the simple become something far different? Nothing like taxi is all I can say.
Tow Truck Sharks Swimming in Seattle
Sunday I got this call to the 1400 block of Alaskan Way (the waterfront) and found these distressed folks (visiting from Moses Lake) who just had their car towed away. Having parked in front of the Seattle Antique Market, they failed to heed the signs that Gary's Westside Towing would haul their car away. An important note is that Seattle's Puget Sound waterfront is both a popular tourist destination and undergoing many construction projects thus limiting parking. People like the country bumpkins I took to the tow yard have no idea about the predatory towing environment prevalent in Seattle over the past 30 years, shocked to discover that Westside Towing would, could and can charge them $435.00 for their errant parking violation. Listening to their pleading over the telephone, I was outraged by what I was hearing. The towing dispatcher even told them, in a fit of anger, that fine, they could wait until Monday to pick up their car. I called 911 and requested that the SPD meet us at the tow yard. First told that this was a "civil matter," I was put on hold, then amazingly the police non-emergency officer hung up on me. All this was complicated by the fact they didn't have a credit card with them to pay the outrageous fee, never thinking that something like this could happen to them.
Long and short of all this is that I had to take them to a Western Union office where they waited for the money to be wired. Once they had the cash in hand they called me back and I took them back once again to the tow yard. I told them to file a complaint with the City of Seattle. What appears to be true is that multiple cars were towed at about the same time Sunday afternoon. Something about this doesn't appear to be right. Are they using spotters to call the towing company? Are the signs not clearly displayed? Is this tow truck ballet occurring every weekend? I personally will contact the City of Seattle and tell them to check it out. Somebody has to take some responsibility for this. This is no way to treat Seattle visitors. Even if the tourist dumbbells are parking in the wrong places, how is this response reasonable? Is this how this so-called famously liberal city treats the innocent, because, believe me, if you had met the two sisters and their children, that is how you would have described them, as innocents. Criminals? The only thing criminal is how they were treated. The tow truck dispatcher told me they were operating totally within legal parameters. I believe him but that still doesn't make right and just and moral, taking advantage of simple mistakes. Where is the malice is all I can say?