Thursday, February 28, 2013

Actions Hold (Have) Consequences

I went asleep and awoke with the third chapter of my last posting burdening my mind, having addressed pressing local taxi issues.  I was bothered that many who are involved  locally, including friends and close colleagues, might have misunderstood what I was saying.  Take this then as an effort toward clarification because in the next few months important issues like the City of Seattle sanctioned issuance of "for-hire" vehicle licenses, plus the various topics and issues connected to Labor & Industry insurance coverage will be demanding and shouting for resolution.  So far infighting, false insinuations, misdirected efforts and simple confusion have added up to animosity and impasse.  This all needs to cease as quickly as possible.  Something very basic would assist our community. And that is the recognition of a  simple truth: that all actions hold respondent consequences.  It's pretty basic but clearly to me many are ignoring this elemental fact.  I will again attempt to briefly outline recent history and actions with a goal of creating some useful coherence, something that all of us know to be in short supply.  We in the taxi industry love to jump and shout and swing and knock all about regardless of short and long-term consequences. I am suggesting that there are better methods toward lasting resolution.

Currently HB 1367 is being kicked around like a political  football, blamed for causing new and unwanted fiscal (and some say unwarranted) responsibilities.  The lead author of 1367 in particular is being strongly (and wrongly) castigated for his role in bringing what many call a plague upon us. How short memories are. So here are a few essential facts.

It is the State of Washington's Department of Labor & Industry, and no one else, who shoulders the blame and responsibility for the taxi industry's response to their  insistence that L&I coverage must be provided for all drivers.  Again, L&I pressured ( and you might say blackmailed) the industry into response by levying huge monetary audits.  The response, for better or worse, was HB 1367.  I must also remind you that the bill's author did not operate alone or in a vacuum.  Through out the entire process  he both communicated with, and was assisted by some of the same people who are now accusing him of whatever variety of malfeasance. During the negotiation process some legislators demanded that HB 1367 cover ALL parties including single owners or 1367 was dead in the water.  After consulting with ALL interested parties, that compromise was included.

And also along the garden path an important promise was broken.  A prominent L&I official, in front of many witnesses, promised more than once that all of the past audits would vanish and implementation  would begin with the initial year, in this case 2012.  This is the short and true history.  In August a number of us went down to Olympia to argue our case and thought we had made a breakthrough concerning the audits.  Though some very reasonable settlements were negotiated with the smaller fish, the bigger players were left out, which is where HB 1718 comes in.

HB 1718, which so far has remained held in sub-committee would achieve one VERY important goal.  It would, near as I understand it, eliminate all prior or pre-2012 L&I audits.  That 1718 encountered Labor opposition appears odd because it eliminates all PAST financial obligations relating to the audits.  Labor (the Teamsters) have asked how can this help the single owners?.  Simply by bringing up everything to the status quo, meaning  January 2012.  All of which translates into no new costs being  transferred step by step down the taxi food chain.  That these very same single owners now want their own personal L&I obligation eliminated is a separate issue.  Everyone instinctively panics watching operating costs increase month by month.  I know I do.  Inflation is not the independent contractor's friend.

But what if any are our options?  Granted, L&I coverage isn't cheap but it isn't that expensive, and if you have a serious accident you will be glad to have it. Shortsightedness is an endemic  taxi industry affliction.  That the union is encouraging a potentially suicidal choice is interesting.  If the single owners, and taking it a step further, the lease-drivers, do not have L&I coverage, then what will be in its place?  Nothing?  Is that it?  Just like before, nothing?  Is no coverage of any kind a good alternative?   I do not think so.

As much as I don't like paying an extra 160-200 per month as I am now personally doing, I recognize that I now have some protection where before I had none.  In these pages I rarely mention how often  I'm nearly killed over a typical weekend..  During my  last two weekends I twice avoided reckless drivers who appeared intent on killing me and my passengers. Serious near misses are unfortunately too commonplace.  I do have life insurance but that doesn't help me.  All the drivers need assistance after a serious accident.  That is why, for better and perhaps worse, L&I is the current answer.  That is why HB 1718 is so imperative because it keeps cost down.  What is wrong with that?

I am going to leave the "for-hire" issue for another moment because I can assure you that soon it could or will be the hottest topic of the day.  This is the best and worse examples of misguided actions and unintended consequences.  That like the the L&I situation, I know (and like) most of the major players involved.  Though motivated by the best of intentions, good people made some very bad decisions which will potentially resonate for years.  Like the BP oil spill, once the cap is blown, all hell breaks loose.  So in summation, your actions and decisions have consequences.  Please everyone, tread softly!  Taxi drivers have extremely sensitive toes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Matching A Demographic & Taxi Serenade & Keeping Up With The News

Everyone takes offense when no insult is intended.  As I said in this instance, how friendly do I have to be while simultaneously remaining caring and empathic?  What every taxi driver knows is that youth and alcohol never mix resulting in a toxic cocktail.  My very first ride of the weekend from the 4800 hundred block of Airport Way South, four adults in the 25-30 year range was initially okay but one gentleman in particular showed little ability concealing demeaning, opprobrious attitudes.  First Hill, my friend is not Capital Hill but then, as the past election season displayed,  gibberish passed as the factual has become the accepted norm.  I joked and said I had to pull rank.  A few minutes later it appears I had offended the girlfriend.  All I had done was suggest that the Cherry Street ramp to Olive Way was the correct route. I remained cordial though I wouldn't back down, not acquiescing to simplistic arrogance. Always an unpopular stance when instead you are expected to remain prone and enjoy the footsteps, Nancy Sinatra and company breaking in those boots.  And how can anyone wonder why I want out of this business?   Why must the mundane become stupid and territorial?  When you don't know what you are doing, that's why.

It was painful listening to their discussion about relationships and "I know HE loves you." when suddenly one said, addressing me, "And you have to listen to our conversation!" This as I was pulling up to their home.  Then she said we will sing you a song.  They brought with them various instruments including a musical saw so this didn't surprise me as they broke into something I believe they called "Travelling Stranger," their harmonizing quite good, serenading me for a good 2-3 minutes.  I told them it could be a taxi driver's theme song which seemed to please them.  Ah yes, a pleasant end to a sour refrain.

My intended comprehensive news update will unfortunately be abridged as I am both tired in body and weary of the subject.  I promise more later but an important issue are the Labor & Industry state-wide audits and how they could affect and compromise industry functioning.  The reason a proper resolution is necessary comes down to money and pernicious (and ultimately) inflationary costs that will be passed down until it reaches the drivers who can ill-afford more out-of-pocket expenditures.  In all wars, despite the vocal denials, collateral damage occurs maiming the innocent.  HB 1718 was introduced into the Washington legislature in an attempt to cap the audits beginning with the year 2012.  That L&I is attempting to back-audit the industry to 2005 shows what happens when negotiating occurs under duress.  ESHB 1367 which created the current coverage gave L&I an opening the industry cannot at this point close.  Given an inch L&I has taken the proverbial mile.  In the middle of this confused dialogue are the Teamsters who inserted their considerable influence.  In trying to mitigate some of the more onerous elements of the 1367 compromise the Teamsters are "tossing the baby out with the bathwater."  Though appreciative of their motives I question their overall methods toward reducing the costs of single owners and lease drivers.  This is not the way to do it, bludgeoning your perceived opponents.  It doesn't seem productive.  Again, be wary of the confident ideological compass. Their intervention at the sub-committee level has at this point muddled the political landscape.  I am attempting to start a conversation not only with the union but with the real culprits in this situation, the good folks down in Olympia who are going to "love us to death."   Making a bad rhyme, the good mother knows when not to smother.  Pillows may be soft but are potentially deadly.  Breathing is far preferable to suffocation.  Shall we open the smoky inner corridors and let the fresh air in?  I dislike saying it again but why do so many well-meaning governmental parents have to "kill us with kindness."  Folks, that is blood seeping from our pores.  It is not water.  I repeat, it is not water flowing down the bureaucratic drains.  It is the industry suffering mortal wounds, bleeding upon the taxi ground.  Who I ask you, will be applying the necessary first-aid?  It is an important question.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Adieu to Kassahun Desta & Swedish C-Floor Lab & Select Passenger Interactions

I never like seeing the donation box in the cashier's window because it always means that another taxi colleague has died.  This time is was the very courteous gentleman, Kassahun Desta, who succumbed last week to either heart attack or stroke.  Like many of the thousand or so drivers that pass through the taxi night I didn't know him but did mentally record a number of times his smiling presence.  I note his passing in part to again repeat that taxi driving is an unhealthy occupation.  If one is not extremely careful it will literally kill you. Mister Desta, may you rest in eternal peace.

Saturday night I had one of those fares taking me back thirteen to fourteen years when medical package delivery was commonplace.  It would not be unusual to have five to eight or even more medical or hospital related package deliveries. For the most part they have disappeared, mostly taken up by lower cost courier services.  Call it Saturday but it was actually very early Sunday morning that I had a round-trip package delivery beginning at First Hill Swedish and going about an eighth of a mile to the Puget Sound Blood Center then back again to the Swedish Hospital C-Floor lab.  Entering the lower bowels of the hospital I turned the corner hoping beyond hope that a print portraying a pond with  a turtle sunning atop a log while a duck passed by still hung upon the antiseptic hospital wall.  I must have passed that print hundreds of times over the years and always found it cheering when I was exceedingly dismal.  That it was gone I suppose not surprising as it appears Swedish removed all of its artwork from the lower levels.  I am sure it was placed where more patients and their families could enjoy it but I will continue to miss a glimmer of sanity that was truly sustaining.  At least for me a blank white wall is uninspiring which explains why I dislike the work of  Clyfford Still or Mark Rothko or Robert Motherwell and the many other color field or non-representational painters who attempt to sell large planes of blank brush strokes as illuminating an ideal.  Give me a duck or even a chicken.  Give me something living amidst a dying culture that endorses unconvincing artifice over nature and the natural world.

As I have said and will continue to say there is nothing like the interactions that occur in the taxi.  Two examples will suffice as I am getting tired.

The two older Chinese sisters get in the cab going perhaps a mile as the taxi flies.  One begins immediately directing me so I ask for the address to be written down.  Fine, they are going from the 6300 block of California SW to the 7500 block of 35 SW.  I made every attempt to calm them down and thought I had succeeded when as I approached 35th SW and clearly taking my right hand turn the flighty sister began saying "Turn right, turn right!"  And of course I say "No, no!" which prompts the sisters to jump out of the taxi.  I beckoned them back in and pointed out that I was turning right.  I drove them the remaining 7 1/2 blocks and "Sorry, so sorry!" they said as they departed.  And I got seven dollars too.

It was 6:30 PM Sunday and I am heading down Columbia to the viaduct ramp and my restoring sauna at the West Seattle YMCA when a gentleman flagged me down wanting to go to the Renton Highlands.  I said "Sure!" and off we went as he told me about his travails resulting in him staying for too many hours at the King County Jail.  He was a bit frantic which was fine.  But all hell broke loose when he got overly excited when directing me to take a left turn off of the part of Martin Luther King Way South that is almost freeway speed and suddenly my windshield is fogged and I can't see a damn thing where I was going.  He began shouting "Turn! Turn!" with me responding by hitting my brakes and shouting back that I couldn't see, finally tiring of his manic insistence.  He started to leap out of the taxi into traffic which I responded by grabbing his arm.  I thought he still had my cell phone as I had allowed him to call his mother. The last thing I needed was my telephone to vanish into the night.  Once he got back in and I made the turn he started commenting about my driving etc which was again too much to take. After about a mile of coaxing he calmed down and suddenly again we were the best of friends with him adding six on top of the forty-four which more or less made the trauma worth it.  He even requested my card.  Hey you should hear some of the shouting matches "she-who-can't-be named" and I have had.  So what is a little yelling?  Sounds like taxi to me!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Call for Unity

I am currently reading  Stephen Ambrose's "D-Day, The Climactic Battle of WW II."  Back in the year 2000 I visited the Normandy  invasion beaches, finding them and the experience both informative and sobering.  The book, which I recommend, provides much further explanation about a stupendous effort toward a goal and just how much organization and cooperation it takes.  The book displays in unflinching detail how one side, the Allied Forces bonded leadership and discipline into a complete coordinated effort while the Germans, fractious and argumentative  allowed themselves to miss the largest invasion armada ever assembled.  Rommel was back in Berlin celebrating his wife's birthday while another commanding general was visiting a girlfriend in Paris. Others, including Hitler, were equally complaisant, either ignoring the obvious or operating from personal agendas that were self-serving and ultimately suicidal. 

Reading this saga of armed conflict unfortunately reminds me of the taxi industry, the taxi army I know so very well.  Currently it seems to me we are acting like the German High Command.  Much ability, much potential exists but we are currently mired in internal squabbles, in minor bickering while our opponents, the for-hire and limo industries are battering us right beneath our noses. While we shout at each other, our opponents wink and toss kisses at the easily infatuated governmental officials, sending them bouquets of roses and heart-shaped boxes of luscious chocolates.

So please consider this a call to arms, a call for commonsense, and finally a call for unity.   Saturday morning the arrival (upper) level at Sea-Tac was engulfed with more town-cars dropping off then I can remember.  Uber and other services are being utilized more and more by our passenger public. While we still have time to successfully defend ourselves, though panic isn't necessary, the alarm bells are ringing and I am asking everyone to heed the warning.

An example of the internecine warfare that is so self-destructive to the industry is Teamsters 117s intervention, backed by the single owners' "Western Washington Taxi Cab Operators Association, to forestall the introduction of HB 1718.  The Teamsters have instructed the subcommittee Chair (person) to hold up this bill which would assist in halting erroneous Labor & Industry audits that could potentially crush not only the local industry but the industry state-wide. Some estimates say that the total cost of the L&I audits to our industry overall could surpass six million dollars  So why then is Local 117 pursuing this dangerous course.?  Because they are sending a political message to one individual and one individual only.  That the single-owners are endorsing this suicidal course, this slicing-of-their-own-throats says much about misguided leadership.  That this personal vendetta can and will add unnecessary costs to every lease-driver and owner in Seattle and King County appears not to bother them.  This is why I say, enough already!  Unity and dialogue then is the answer, not the now too familiar biting of ones tail and spinning in circles.  Sometimes it seems some amongst our community are intentionally engaged in sabotaging the good work of others.  Or if not that, at least vociferously complaining about everything.  None of this will ever do if we plan on building a strong and lasting foundation for our industry.  Lord knows we have more than enough opposition coming from the outside to always be concerned about internal threats.  Working together can be fun.  Just ask the Boy Scouts!

Myself, I personally have been lobbying on the industry's behalf and will continue to do so, attempting to discover that oft times elusive resolution.  It appears I will be having the opportunity in a few weeks to have an important conversation in Olympia, which I view as a continuation of efforts begun in the spring of last year.  In August a group of us met with the then L&I director.  Much good came from that but with a new administration more pages must be turned. Allow me then to sound slightly perturbed that while many seem to enjoy self-perpetuating histrionics I and others have, and will continue to search for common ground and consensus. My question is, will you join us?  I ask, will you embrace your taxi brothers and sisters and understand that they are not the enemy?  The barbarians are storming the gates.  It is more than time for unity.  It is time for commonsense to prevail.

A Post-Script

Someone not affiliated with the taxi industry requested some clarification about goals and issues.  Quickly, in no particular order, is a list of pressing concerns.

---Governmental indifference

---Governmental interference

---Governmental placating of "for-hire" car industry

---Non-governmental interference

---Rogue & irresponsible drivers

---Lack of governmental regulatory enforcement

---Lack of cooperation between industry figures

---A general lack of industry coordination

---Threat from outside and well-funded entities like Uber and others

---Illegal town car and limousine conduct

---Lack of governmental accommodation and reciprocity

---Confusion concerning association rules and operations

Understand that these are the "tree trunks" and that many "branches" or associated issues exist.  It all at times seems endless. And perhaps it is.

Monday, February 11, 2013

What Is Taxi?

What is taxi?  Of course the obvious efficient transporting from point A to B, the apex, the lyrical opus of a mechanical symphony, the end to a means that everyone sees and recognizes from Seattle to Istanbul to Athens to Bucharest, the glowing top-light welcoming all and everyone as the customer remains first never last, gasoline and conversation the combined fuel taking you down the paved and sometimes bumpy roadway. Yes the pinnacle of an elaborate organization, a clear termination but not nearly its beginning, instead something best described as an almost biblical genesis, broad reactions and responses begetting this, giving birth to that: taking  passengers home, to the airport, to the movies or even to a new life stepping away and out.  It is the unseen that we in the industry know, the palpable and knowable relationship shifting populations across cities and indeed over an expansive globe twenty-four hours a day.  It is an industry in constant motion rarely stopping except momentarily quickly filling the tank or grabbing a bite then off and onward to the next waving hand or ringing bell. Beneath that is the never ending dialogue in hundreds of languages discussing "You won't believe....."  and "Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! that asshole....." all at breakneck speed until sleeping or even rarer, the cars resting a few minutes before rushing off again to another address honking "I am here! I am here!  This and more is taxi taking you and me to the curb walking up the steps, reaching the door opening to Eternity shaking your hand, welcoming you with a "glad to see you survived yet another taxi day!" even though you feel like death-warmed-over and ready if not quite prepared for an early grave. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

An Apology

A friend at Yellow Cab called this morning and told me that I had gotten it wrong, that the failure, the Saturday morning system crash,  is more correctly directed at DDS, the computer system contractor and not Jim and other dispatch folks who during that time period were attempting to resolve the issue.  Jim was on the telephone for hours with DDS consultants. This is all good news and I apologize for any and all misunderstanding. A reporter is only as good as his sources.  I spoke with many people before I issued any conclusions. My clear mistake is that I didn't speak with the person primarily responsible for dispatch operations. I promise that I will not make that kind of Journalism 101 mistake again.  I was also told that the responsibility for the mentioned telephone system outage which I thankfully missed was due solely to telephone provider failure. Now in this instance I fully admit I was reporting from purely anecdotal reports and I certainly won't repeat that error.  With the computer failure I did my best at the time with sources I trust.  Clearly when a serious issue appears I will be delving more deeply into the matter.  All I ask then is complete candor from everyone involved.  I neither wish to disparate or mislead anyone.  In part I have called this blog "factual taxi" as opposed to fictional.  Everything I print here must be true "so help me God."  So to that end I will endeavor to double-check and verify beyond doubt any and all information and facts before imparting them to you my reading ( and taxi) public. I am pleased to report that I have had nearly 8000 hits or readings since I began.  Taxi drivers literally from across the taxi globe are reading the blog.  Comments from India and elsewhere are coming through. I do appreciate the support and response. In saying that I again repeat it is of utmost importance that I get it right. You are depending on me for complete accuracy and I will do my best to guarantee that.  And coming back to the incident itself I hope this inspires a new and broader communication from dispatch itself.  When failures of this magnitude happen we need to be told the details as soon as possible.  We are extremely interested because this is our livelihood.  I know that all of the drivers and single owners are supportive of dispatch and its employees.  Together forward and united we will succeed.  In that spirit I conclude wishing everyone involved the best, including that sometimes less than cooperative computer system.  May we all experience error-less function.  Wouldn't  that be great?  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tale of Two Meetings & Taxi Magic & Reaction

Two taxi meetings in two days plus a third that thankfully didn't require my attendance. Both the meeting with Jesse Gilliam, legislative assistant for Seattle City Council member Sally Clark, the current Council President; and the regularly scheduled Seattle & King County Taxi Advisory Commission meeting went well as important issues were both discussed and reviewed.  I am happy to report that the commission is beginning to respond and shine professionally.  Nothing could be better for the taxi industry than a functional and constructive commission.

Beginning with Mister Gilliam, together we reviewed the situation concerning that most red-hot of taxi issues, the "for-hire" industry and their unauthorized "off-of-the-streets" pick-ups within Seattle city limits.  Jesse is a good listener and agreed that options must be reviewed including bringing all of us, meaning primary taxi and for-hire figures together for a meeting with Sally Clark. He confirmed, which I already knew to be true, that the much bandied about "demand study" auditing Seattle passenger demand has yet to begin, with no firm starting date mentioned. The reason why this is so important is because City officials keep saying that this study is key to understanding the "for-hire" conundrum. The "Catch-22" (sorry Joseph Heller) in all of this is that the study might take a year to conduct.  In the meanwhile the illegal pick-ups off the city streets continue. And what about all those new enforcement officers that the City wanted (and will ask the taxi industry in the future to pay for?)   Already one has quit to take another job.  What kind of commitment was that?  Recent data says that there were about 54 citations issued to "for-hire" operators in the combined period of November & December 2012.  As I told Jesse, that adds up to about the number of pick-ups upon a given Saturday evening hour and I am probably grossly underestimating the total fares stolen.  After the commission meeting a fellow industry colleague and I had a quick and friendly confab with a "for-hire" lobbyist.  Really a great guy. He even bought me a bagel. Anyway he stated the example that since most of his clients are making a good living picking-up off of the streets it proves that there is indeed a service need both justifying their existence and current practice.  I suppose you can interpret it that way.  Or you could oppositely say that they are proficient thieves and that the enforcement is essentially nonexistent. I bet you can guess the view I endorse. Though he said he would certainly agree to meet with Sally Clark, he related that his clients are far more interested in meeting with folks from the various local taxi associations.  Hopefully both will occur.

Two guests, one official, the other not  made the commission meeting interesting.  Chris, the individual responsible for writing the Labor & Industry legislation resulting in the current coverage gave the commission a quick yet thorough history lesson, some of which was new to me. The impetus for the L&I push which has brought us to where we currently are, was the shooting in 2005 of a Tacoma Yellow taxi driver in the once notorious Hilltop neighborhood. Unfortunately his injuries resulted in hospital bills of over $450,000 dollars and in being permanently disabled, the driver tragically  remaining a quadriplegic . This situation compelled L&I into action and thus all the industry audits, etcetera. Overall it was a good presentation.

The unexpected speaker was Tim Csontos from something called "Taxi Magic" who told us of this new smart phone app that allows a customer to summon a taxi without talking to a formal dispatch.  I suggest you do what I did and google and see what you come up with. Tim by the way is Vice-President for Business Development.  At this point I am reserving judgment but "Taxi Magic" also is offering what they call "Sedan Magic" which brings you a town-car.  Sounds much like the new "Uber" service.  I caution everyone to remain wary of anyone bearing gifts.  The motive here is clearly profit and probably little else other than unwarranted intrusion into our business.  I will be asking Tim for further details.

And lastly, my rather innocent description of Saturday morning's snafu resulted in a strong response from at least one individual, that being the head of dispatch.  For over the past two months a group of drivers have been meeting with him in an attempt to address our service concerns.  My narration and commentary was found offensive which I regret but I did predict some denial was heading our way.  What can't be denied is that it appears to have been a very avoidable mess causing anguish and confusion for four hours.  One of the major points the drivers have been repeating is, simply put, we are suffering and could you please help us.  I doubt if any of the drivers wish to repeat the living nightmare that we endured.  The pressure upon me personally was enormous.  Losing four hours put me far behind my usual quota.  Thankfully extremely hard work and some luck salvaged the weekend.  On Friday I had put my mortgage payment in the mail anticipating that I would make something  close to my weekend usual.  The situation Saturday morning gave me a fright because none of us knew when dispatch would be back up and working.  It was not a pleasant experience.  All any of us are asking for is for the system to work and function in the way it was designed.  I don't, and I must repeat, I don't understand how that cannot be our expectation.  If not, then what should we be expecting?  I will leave it at that. 


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Peanut Saves The Day

From one kind  of canine to the next, this time a Chihuahua mix name of Peanut sticking her head out of the apartment door enquiring just what was all the commotion about?  Shaking a bit she sweetly displayed a concern for her drunken owner who wouldn't get out of the cab, the woman kicking and lashing out at her very patient  boyfriend.  While Peanut is not quite a wolf of course still she remains a distinguished member of that ancient doggy clan.  Dogs are wonderful whether growling or wagging their tails. If only Peanut's mistress displayed a similar wisdom.  I truly appreciated Peanut's equanimity given the madness that was Saturday, beginning with Yellow's computer system going down for four hours beginning from about 4:00 to 8:00 AM.  There are many stories related to this but suffice to say there appears to have been a serious institutional failure that impacted 554 taxis and an untold number of passengers.  HopeLink passengers were missing their crucial and life-saving dialysis while other folks were frantically making new arrangements to Sea-Tac and their departing flights. This was not a minor incident given its implications concerning both operational and contingency planning.  Part of the problem was the time of day and who at that moment was in charge.  If this same situation had occurred at say one in the afternoon on any given weekday it perhaps might have been resolved in 10 or 15 minutes because the correct personnel were in place to achieve quick resolution.  But when you put  the responsibility for a multimillion dollar company in inexperienced hands you unfortunately have this kind of result.  There has to be some real and lasting accountability if anyone plans on this never occurring again.  Questions like periodic maintenance and review come to mind. Fortunately I missed the earlier seven-hour collapse of the entire telephone system that same week.  As I keep asking repeatedly, is anyone actually paying attention?   Every time I question some unproductive procedure the usual first response is obfuscation and denial.  In this case it is readily apparent that the same old and too familiar  pattern of sidestepping past important issues cannot suffice or be found acceptable. Yellow is receiving lousy service reviews.  Passengers are sick and tired of what they perceive as blatant disregard and arrogance adding up to  overall incompetence.  I can only hope this incident is the proverbial "wake-up" call, and instead of justification changes truly occur, instilling a permanent recognition acknowledging that this time our response must be different.  Though given past history I recommend everyone to "not hold your breath" as you just might collapse upon the floor  awaiting the Calvary's arrival.  But if you do, and Peanut is near by I am sure she would give you a friendly lick expressing a heartfelt concern.  And wag her tail if only she had one.