Alarms last week alerted me to noise emanating from the City of Seattle's Regulatory Compliance and Consumer Protection office concerning the shifting of some regulatory duties from the longstanding South Dearborn Street Testing Station to something called the SeaPark Station located downtown on James Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in an underground (building interior) parking lot. That displeasure was voiced of course isn't uncommon anytime two or more people are placed together in a working or cooperative environment, setting the stage for conflict and disagreement and feelings of resentment, spotlighting the thought that the local taxi industry was being unjustly marginalized. Accustomed to rancor and histrionics I sought out answers to questions and found some reassurance. This is what I know and believe to be accurate and true.
The ultimate future of the South Dearborn City of Seattle testing and licensing complex is under discussion, currently in a kind of bureaucratic limbo, with mid-level management deciding which direction is financially beneficial to the city. Essentially they are in a what, how and why quandary, knowing decisions made today will dramatically affect the many future tomorrows. That perplexities exist is the government model which is why concern remains forefront to many involved.
Part of the objection to the SeaPark site is its unavoidable interior (and inferior) ambiance---artificial light and gaseous odor never quickly embraced by the human animal, naturally preferring less confining premises. I was told, at least when multiple taxi testing is required, someplace other than SeaPark would be utilized, including the possibly of a mobile testing unit that would travel to appropriate locations. I certainly endorse that kind of option, accommodating the busy cabbie who would rather not stop but keep on going and going. Another positive it seems for the City is that it is close to their offices, a short walk taking them there. Many like that idea.
What shocked me most about all this was not City employee grumbling but that the SeaPark changeover was well known to many local association representatives and lobbyists, who, during the past weeks, had met with City officials to discuss the matter. That none of them communicated to us, the single owner taxi community, is something I find egregious because we are the ones most affected by any and all changes. I did request, more than once, that please, in the future, would the City of Seattle please not rely solely upon the associations to tell us what we need to know? I did receive some reassurance that communication will improve.
As limiting meter testing to two solitary appointments per week at SeaPark is ultimately a good or bad idea I just don't know. I do know that a recent ventilation failure caused a facility evacuation, making a lasting impression upon many, prompting in part a shouting into the air which I of course heard. Thanks for yelling, always a good therapeutic choice, relieving the stress of opaque and unresponsive government. Also thanks for recognizing you have a friend in the taxi industry, forever loyal until deciding I just can't take it any more and begin hiking northward into the Paysaten Wilderness, searching for long lost sanity and that ever elusive creature, the voracious wolverine.
Potential PSD Dispatch System Changeover
Last week five of us (there was supposed to be nine), along with PSD general manager Amin, attended a dispatch system presentation by DDS Wireless Senior Account Manager John Denenfeld, telling us why we at Yellow might decide to embrace what could be a more stable system than currently in use. Some discussion highlights included the following:
---More than 30 years of DDS dispatching experience. They are contracted with one of the world's largest city transit systems, New York City. If they handle a city of 10 million, we shouldn't be much of a problem.
---They have 24/7 professional support in case of system issues. Currently I think we have to wake up George in the dead of night and say it is time to drink some coffee, we have problems that won't wait. Put on your pants but don't take the time necessary to brush your teeth.
---A tablet that never requires replacement.
---A professional company responsive to customer questions and issues.
---System Amazon Cloud-based.
---Alerting system tells dispatch when school run/HopeLink no-show occurs.
---System app allows driver to be out of the cab and accept calls on their smart phone, giving you 3 minutes to get to your cab and confirm.
---We would be considered a "premium" account, in other words, a high priority.
If the decision to go ahead is made, the system will be up and running and functional before the new school season begins. Costs are currently being configured. And for my personal preference, I think it is time to return to the queuing system, meaning the first car in the area gets the fare, just like in the good, old voice dispatch days. Wouldn't that be nice?