Saturday, February 9, 2019

I Have Been Restrained, Holding My Taxi Tongue Until Now

Criticism must have a purpose, otherwise it is a mindless rant filling the world with more unnecessary gibberish, something we clearly don't need.  With the advent of both traditional and social media, complaint, the pointing of fingers in this modern age is everywhere you turn--from radio, television, the Internet to the enraged driver blaring their car horn---the shouting filling the mind and ears.  I say this because errors at Yellow Cab dispatch are compounding at an inflationary rate, to where something must be said, not to disparate but to encourage change and improvement.  While Puget Sound Dispatch management has acknowledged the shortcomings, recognition of a problem achieves little unless it comes with both resolution and the resolve for adequate remedy. While it is said we will now have dispatch services wholly back in Seattle by June, what do we do in the meanwhile when the current  Las Vegas call center is strained to breaking, especially now during this prolonged stretch of unusually icy and snowy street conditions, dispatch mistakes potentially severely consequential, sending a cab to a wrong address resulting in valuable time lost or even an accident.  As one example will show, mistakes could even result in someone returning to prison.  As I keep repeating to PSD management, we need the correct information every single time minus error.  Anything less translates into the non-functional, something we can't accept.  But as this situation has remained acceptable for months, it says something is wrong, ranging from negligence  to dysfunction.  As I have also said many times, not only can we do better, we must do better, there being no other option.  Otherwise chaos, as usual, reigns supreme.

Not Understanding Seattle's Addressing System

Given what occurred to me late Monday night, it's clear that the Las Vegas based call center has not been adequately trained in the in-and-outs and the how-and-whys of the City of Seattle's street addressing matrix.  Something all important is knowing the East-West and North-South boundary streets and how they govern the street and avenue directional indicators: East, Northeast, West, Northwest, Southwest and South.  It's a logical system but you have to know the basics, a kind of Seattle addressing literacy to read and interpret the information.  But when you don't, and it seems, relying solely upon "Google mapping" as your solitary source, bad things happen.  Again, I am not saying that the call-takers are incompetent.  Far from it but they obviously are suffering from a lack of training.  Who is responsible for that?  Puget Sound Dispatch and no one else.

I was belled into a Zone 240 address, 1 _ _ 22nd Avenue.  Notice there is no directional attached to the address.  That's because it is a north-south avenue located between Denny Way, the north boundary and Yesler Way, the south boundary.  Unfortunately, the actual address was 1 _ _ 22nd Avenue East, placing it two blocks north of Denny, and in Zone 200.  The address dispatched me to was 18 blocks to the south.

What made this mistake potentially catastrophic is that the fare was called in by a prisoner-release counselor/caseworker who was trying to get his reluctant client back to her work-release facility.  That if I had been at the proper address all would have been fine but once not finding me where I was expected, she never came back out.  I know this because dispatch convinced me to drive to the correct address, this after telling me both addresses were one and the same.  Why did the call-taker say this?  Because "google mapping" told him, that's why.

I also told the call-taker it was inappropriate for me to act as the go-between client and caseworker, as the desperate counselor kept requesting that "I work with him," assuring me he had given dispatch the right address.  Doesn't anyone but me understand about legal liability, about making me responsible for getting this State of Washington ward back to where she belongs?

All this took a good half hour, begetting nothing but frustration as I sat for five minutes, calling again and again in a fruitless effort to reach the client.  And what ultimately happened to her I don't know but as I suggested, the consequences might have been dire for her which is why I say once more, "get it fight the first time, please!"

Do I think anything will change?  No, I do not.

In Addition, a Mechanical Glitch 

Another issue is what happens when Yellow is busy and the "BID" alert keeps ringing like a deranged bell, repeating to a point that it knocks out the sound, meaning you will no longer hear the alert telling you when a dispatched call is offered.  What happens is that you miss the call unless you are staring at the screen.  The problem is clear.  George, the father of this system, is not a cabbie, causing him not to be aware in total of what he was creating.  Typical is all I can say, not understanding the day to day impact of decisions made.  And who is ultimately hurt by this?  Why of course all us cabbies paying the dispatch fee!


  1. Joey ,
    As you well know , the situation
    you described about being given a mistaken 240 zone bell , has been
    an ongoing problem for years. This had even ' Seattle - born '
    drivers and dispatch confused.
    True , the dispatch center
    needs to be in Seattle , but
    my belief is better training
    in map - reading and for the
    co - op to restart the cab
    school for both drivers and
    dispatchers . Maybe then,
    customers will return ' en masse '. Bill ...

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