It appears my blog will be one of the initial, if not the first of the assorted media outlets to announce that Seattle Yellow Taxi has lost the most recent Sea-Tac RFP bid to, of all groups, Eastside-For-Hire. I express surprise because Eastside is not a taxi company in any traditional sense, having no meter, falling more in the category of "livery cab" or "car-service" cab familiar to anyone in the greater New York City boroughs.
Another part of my surprise is the anecdotal information I keep receiving from taxi customers, that flat-rate for-hire drivers continue to overcharge. One recent example was $15.00 from Pier-52 to Virgina Mason Hospital, essentially double of what taxis charge for the same ride. Having heard this kind of complaint more times than I can recount I am guessing it contains some validity. I am told that Eastside's Sea-Tac proposal contains solid instructional provisions preventing such violations from occurring.
Need I remind anyone closely familiar with the situation that the flat-rate for-hire industry operated illegally for more or less three years in Seattle before they received official sanction. The question is, similar to taxi, does the cat have the ability to change its spots? Given the cab industry example, one must say that the "jury is out" until more evidence is presented.
Given the Port of Seattle's competitive rating system, Yellow finished 2nd to Eastside's bid. But when one considers it objectively, how does a six year-old or so company beat out a competitor with nearly 100 years of providing taxi service in Seattle? Well, when that company, Yellow, potentially underpaid Sea-Tac in the (still effectively unknown) millions of dollars, then you get the results gotten, an inexperienced company taking over out-bound services for one of the busiest airports in the nation.
One could say that collectively the Port Commissioners made a poor decision, but good or bad, can you really blame them for not trusting Yellow to keep its word and not repeat what was done previously? The Port of Seattle was burned, and while not blaming the good cabbies working Sea-Tac, it seems illogical that the Port would trust the same actors in charge at Yellow.
From my experience do they, the Board and primary majority medallion owners listen to reason and alter behavior once mistakes are made? I have to say that they don't. Multiple errors were made this past Sunday by the new call center. As they occurred I left messages pointing them out to the proper management. Do I have any faith that anything will change? Experience tells me otherwise, Yellow expecting everyone to keep paying regardless of performance.
Do I think that scenario will continue, to remain the same? I do not. What the Port decision shows minus all doubt is that bad decisions are consequential. Obvious I know but to some, perhaps not. I believe the loss of the Sea-Tac contract will spur positive change. How could it not is the question. I truly believe that it isn't possible. Changes must occur, and soon, before yet another series of dire mistakes, whatever they might be, are made. If this type of disaster is looked on as commonplace, then we are in serious trouble. Again, that should be blatantly obvious.