Monday, September 30, 2013

What $280.6 Million Will Buy You & Taking A Jew Fishing?

Late Saturday night I double-loaded two sets of University of Arizona fans post-UW Husky who were shivering in the near-record rain soaking everyone and anyone valiant enough to have literally weathered the entire game.  Both couples had been wandering for over two hours searching for the elusive taxi, receiving bad and erroneous advise from the local finest on where to locate a cab. The sad reality is that after an over two-hundred and eighty million dollar investment in the spanking, brand new and thoroughly renovated Husky Football stadium, not one penny it appears has been directed toward accommodating taxi and disabled accessibility.

After all that money expended, a fan's best bet finding a post-game taxi is still the main entrance of the University of Washington Medical Center. When I was chair of the taxi advisory commission we sent a letter to the folks directing the construction, asking about taxi stands.  No reply and I know why, because they knew what I knew, understanding that UW had no plans and no interest in making it easy and sane to load up the thousands of fans seeking taxis during half-time and game's end.  The end result were those four Arizonians wandering through the downpour vainly looking for what they could not find.  A clearly marked stand would have been and is the answer.  I advise everyone to complain to the UW Board of Regents.  Maybe, just maybe they might be responsive, especially if you threaten to cancel your season tickets because their only interest is money and nothing else.  Of course they will issue denials but the truth rests in the taxi pudding.  The next home game will be a repeat of Saturday. I can personally guarantee that unavoidable conclusion.

Thanks for the Anti-Semitism

Drunks are idiots, plain and simple.  Picking up three  guys from a West Seattle bar one asked a question, about all things, fishing charters.  Attempting to deflect the nonsense, I responded, "Do I look like a fish?"  Evidently, clearly not, as the wonderful person said, "Why would I want to take a Jew fishing?" thinking I am Jewish and displaying his bad attitude.  Unfortunately this is not the first time I have encountered this variety of racism and mistaken identification but hey! if you want me to be Jewish or anything else, why not?  I will be any perceived derogatory fill-in-the-blank you like.  Like I have been saying for years my favorite taxi moniker is "bitch faggot."  With that title I feel I have achieved something.  It isn't anyone who can claim to be something so rare.  And this is taxi reality as it truly is.  Are you ready to be insulted and maligned by fools?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ever So Briefly......Comment Concerning Yesterday's City Council Taxi Hearing & KIRO TV

I realize that, given my push to complete my newest book by the third week of October, I will have little real time to give to the very serious subject confronting our local taxi industry: the incursion of non-taxi ride services presented by the for-hires, the limos (town cars) and the new so-called ride-share services like Lyft, Uber and others.  I will be taking two weeks off in early November and only then do I envision having the time and space necessary to adequately address the issue.  Suffice to say, the City Council committee on "Taxi, For-Hire and Limousine Regulations" is forging ahead with their deliberations.  Yesterday said much about their expected direction.

The hearing began with Ben Noble, a legislative assistant providing an extensive background briefing for the committee.  Mr. Noble has really done his homework, I believe understanding the issues as well as anyone, myself included.  It was clearly hard work done well. 

After his briefing, they moved on to part two, which was the presentation of three options numbered one, two and three.  Again, excuse my brevity but roughly here are the three headings in order:

1) Maintain Current Regulatory Structure

2) Enable New Entrants and New Technologies to Direct Regulation of Individual Drivers and Vehicles

3) Enable New Technologies and Allow New Entrants............While Minimizing Role of the Existing FHV Category

Option One is the most pro-taxi while the others more or less open the floodgates to the for-hires and ride-share services.  No one appears to know how to deal with the increasing tide of town cars except hand it back to the state of Washington.  Those guys simply put are trouble.

I told one legislative assistant I am on friendly terms with that I am eager to work with committee to sort out the various options.  Sally Clark stated that she wanted to use Option 3 as the starting off platform which I think should scare the hell out of the taxi industry.  In short everyone, it is time to put on your "lobbying" hats and get your views known before it is too late.  I understand that it is imperative to act quickly but personally, as I have said, I have little time currently to devote to a pending disaster.  The one thing I know we don't need or want is for the City of Seattle to be flooded with an unlimited number of taxi-like vehicles, regulated or not. 

As I stated in my two minutes before the council, I have grave doubts whether this great increase in passenger demands actually exists.  I wish somebody at Seattle/KC would hire me to do a demand study.  Whatever the results I would guarantee they would be accurate within five percentage points. Cooper & Mundy never mentioned once the great decline in the package business, which was once nearly 30 % of the total business, and during certain hours, 50 %.  Again, the results the City is looking at were created by non-industry folks.  Do you think the FAA would use non-pilots to investigate their industry?  Of course not, of course not!

KIRO Debate Coverage

I finally viewed the two minute plus KIRO report about last Saturday.  Ed Murray says there should be a moratorium on the ride-share entry into Seattle's transportation market.  Finally a sane voice in the taxi wilderness!   Toward the end of this month I will be stating my choices for mayor and city council.  Stay tuned.  One thought.  Being nice doesn't always translate into effectiveness!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Progress Is A Journey

I missed the TaxiPac sponsored mayoral debate this past Saturday afternoon and I was disappointed, by all reports, that the turnout was smaller than expected.  My question to all of my fellow local cabbies is basic.  Don't you understand that nothing will change for us unless you take a long-term interest and become actively involved?  What impression do you think was made upon the current or potential future mayor?  These kinds of opportunities are few and far between and should be taken when offered.  Complaints become empty when not backed up by constructive action and dialogue.  If I  hadn't been working on Saturday I would have been there because I understand the value of personal involvement.  Please, if possible do show up for Thursday's City Council hearing regarding potential decisions concerning Lyft and the for-hires and possible taxi license expansion.  I will be there.  And once I get more detail about Saturday's debate I will include that and a report concerning the City Council hearing on a posting sometime Friday.  Look for that late Friday evening, as I will try to get to it before my 8:00 PM bedtime.  I must get some rest before the usual taxi onslaught.

$25.00 for a $8.00 Fare?

Post-Seahawk game a woman jumps out of a for-hire car into my taxi at about 2nd South and South Washington.  Why?  The driver was trying to charge her a $25.00 flat rate to the corner of Bellevue Ave East and East John Street on Capital Hill.  My meter was $8.00.  I told her who to contact.  This is what the City/County has released upon the streets.  What else did they expect?  Watch out for the gypsy cab monsters.  We are just a mere 40 days or so away from Halloween.  By then all of the Lyft etc drivers will have grown fangs!

Drunk Seahawk Fans

Finally getting a spare moment, I stop at the Queen Anne Metropolitan Market to have a quick chomp.  Concentrating on my potatoes a very drunk couple gets in my cab, asking to go down the street.  Just prior to them I had just accepted a fare on the computer.  Not accepting or understanding I couldn't take them to pick up their Mexican food they became very belligerent, the woman coming within an inch of striking me.  The smart cabbie always keeps the doors locked because you never know when trouble comes knocking!  I wonder what they would have been like had their team not been victorious?  It is scary to think of all of the possibilities!

Who Can See?

Sunday morning intense rainfall obscured the roadway as I made my way to Sea-Tac, visibility at best an eighth of a mile, the highway surface a white blur.  Why was every one passing me?  Welcome to taxi and the many hazardous miles.  This weekend I drove the equivalent to Corning, California and beyond.  Boy! am I ready for the Olive Pit, home of a million samples!  And after that, I would drop by the Farm Sanctuary and visit all of the lucky animals.  And if I could remember the name of another nearby town I would tell you I would like to live there and sit by the local river watching all my worries float downstream. I am ready!

Taxi Post-Script:

Name of that town: Colusa,

and the river? the Sacramento.

Friday, September 20, 2013

TaxiPac Sponsored Mayoral Debate Saturday 9/21 at 1:30 PM

TaxiPac, a new political entity promoting the local industry is sponsoring a mayoral candidate debate between the incumbent Mike McGinn and his opponent, Ed Murray. The location is the Pabla Punjabi Palace located at 15245 International (Pacific Highway) Boulevard South.  TaxiPac is suggesting a $15.00 donation going toward their work enhancing and strengthening the position of taxi drivers in Seattle and King County.  Their motto or credo is as stated, "To Protect and Enhance Taxi Services."  Who amongst us can disagree with that?

I really encourage all of you who are not working to attend and ask McGinn and Murray questions.  Because it is a taxi Saturday for me I may not be there, all depending upon the taxi fates.

TaxiPac contact info:

POB 68534, Tukwila, WA 98168     206-257-1268

Monday, September 16, 2013


On first glance, many may not notice the similarities between government and non-governmental bureaucracies but rubbing your eyes will often reveal a cold-hearted efficiency overstepping real human reality.   Upon close observation you will also find many good and well-meaning administrators behind decisions ultimately cruel and unkind.  I believe this occurs when someone mistakenly view themselves operating machinery robotically manufacturing decisions, forgetting that the assembly-line is composed of flesh and blood, not mechanical nuts and bolts attached to inanimate objects.

Early Saturday morning I was belled into the  University Hospital ER for a HopeLink fare headed downtown.  I didn't think there was anything out of the ordinary even though the older woman had a suitcase and various bags filled with belongings.  Recognizing the address as this large complex housing "at-risk" women I thought nothing about taking her there at nearly five in the morning.  The poor woman could barely walk, her permanent wheelchair having been left downtown.

To my surprise, upon our arrival she informed me she was staying at the shelter and  would be sleeping on the sidewalk "without a jacket" until the doors were opened. If I had known she had been discharged on to the street I would not have taken her. There is no plausible reason why she couldn't have remained in the ER waiting room or the shelter staff making an exception to their  "hard and fast" rules.  To do this to anyone, especially a disabled woman coming from the hospital, was completely outrageous and unnecessary.  There can be no justification for something like this to happen but I can assure you it happens all the time and will again unless measures are taken.  I alerted someone and hopefully this kind of nonsense won't be repeated.

Seattle Times Editorial

In today's edition, their editorial staff joined the chorus of the uninformed, believing they have knowledge about an industry they have never participated in, other than as consumers.  Does everyone remember how Sarah Palin was disparaged for her "I can see Russia from Alaska" comment, implying she understood Russia and its complex history and people by some personal version of osmosis?  How is this different?  Oh, that's right, all those editorial folks are college educated compared to the great taxi unwashed.  Pardon me for neglecting the obvious!  What the hell do I know concerning the subject?


Last night while transporting a cancer patient home to Lynnwood, I was pursued by
a "road-rager" because I dared tap my horn when the driver of the car remained stopped in front of me at a stop sign.  I finally braked to a  stop, leaving the fool sticking out in an intersection.  Once the driver understood I was calling the police, he roared off into the night.  Welcome to stupidity as usual!

When Will the Cabbies.........?

Nearing Chinatown for dinner late last night, I was flagged down by three Seahawk fans trying to get to Auburn.  Like the guy I took to Federal Way recently, countless drivers refused to stop for them.  They were very appreciative, thanking me for stopping.  All they wanted to do was get home.  You mean that is some kind of threatening behavior?  Ridiculous, and thanks everyone for my biggest and last fare of the day!  Your loss was my gain, everyone fumbling the taxi football on game day.  And I keep hearing everyone complain they are not making any money, blaming others for the situation, instead of recognizing who might be ultimately responsible. Look in the taxi mirror is my advice.  Who do you think is staring back at you?

Taxi PS

New City Council hearing regarding taxi scheduled for Thursday September 26th at 2:00 PM.

Monday, September 9, 2013

She Was Howling!

"She-who-can't-be-named" was furious I graded Cooper and Mundy so highly.  "You're too nice!"  "And they didn't even get it right!"  She is an another person who could ably assist in any local taxi or transportation study, her over 23 year "association" with this deranged cabbie making her unusually qualified with a subject  known well, clearly understanding more about the business than the two good professors.  When thinking of them, visualize all those "talking heads" heard on NPR and other national media outlets who are cast as experts in a given area.  Nearly across the board they are very educated, upper middle class individuals holding little practical experience in their area of expertise.  At least James Cooper drove a livery cab for six months somewhere in rural Scotland. 

Regardless, "she-who-can't-named" is unforgiving, her Brooklyn, New York "in-your-face" attitude coming through.  Given my schedule, later this week I will continue my commentary upon the demand study.  The more I reflect the more flawed it seems to be.  I would enjoy having another conversation with the professors.  It could be productive.

Flat Tire

I don't want to think how many "taxi flat tires I have dealt with over the years in all kinds of weather and conditions.  It is never any fun, and making it worst this just past Saturday my latest flat occurred just as I entered the Aurora Bridge north-bound after the Canlis turn.  Boom! all air was gone, leaving no option but to creep along the entire length of the bridge, impatient drivers all around me.  Finding a safe place on Winslow North to change the tire I reintroduced myself to that rigorous exercise. 

Further complicating the matter is since the shop was closed I was now without a functional spare tire. Sunday afternoon while the tire was being replaced I attempted to suggest a logical solution, keeping an accessable rack of spare tires available at all hours. All I will say is that I will keep lobbying for reasonable resolution.  Early Sunday morning a cabbie got a fare to Canada from Pier 91. If it had been me I would had been forced to drive the entire distance without a spare.  As I keep saying, welcome to taxi!

Insurance Companies Wielding a Big Stick

Today a number of veteran drivers, including some friends, were told that our insurance company had delared them ineligible for coverage.  I believe most of them have had an accident during the past three years.  If you can imagine, Yellow's insurance cost per car is now nearing eleven thousand dollars.  This is the result of having inexperienced drivers in the workforce, causing too many avoidable at-fault accidents. 

I will keep repeating this until it changes.  Nothing good results by the local regulators flooding the market with rookies.  Consequentially the insurance companies understandably tighten their criteria, punishing veteran drivers.  Any cabbie knows we are a moving target.  God! am I sick of local governmental foolishness!  Please everyone, shall we improve the training and insert common sense into the conversation?  Can't you see me shaking my head.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Analysis & Assessment of Cooper & Mundy Demand Study

This week we found out what $100,000 will purchase you in terms of local governmental studies.  Two professors, the younger James Cooper and the elder statesman Ray Mundy, have teamed up to examine taxi issues around the United  States, the city of Seattle being their most recent client.  To better understand their motivations, you must first understand that even tenured professors have inherent limits upon their university income.  Even with insane tuition costs, college teachers themselves make modest incomes given the years of study and degrees required to become experts in their chosen field of study.  Unless you find other avenues of outside income, the prized academician will have trouble buying that required new treed jacket every few years.  The dusty, frayed, dedicated scholar might be a good image for the movies but in real life money is needed to put children through twenty years of schooling etc. which means today's college educators must be self-promoting.  The college world presented in Pearl Buck's  (1892-1973) 1938 novel "This Proud Heart" is long past, living and dying for educational excellence alone in an idyllic, tiny college town. 

In part academics is now all about paid research, publishing papers and articles and books, in short "getting the money, honey!" which brings in Cooper and Mundy, two transportation infrastructure experts exploiting a niche market, the much misunderstood world of taxi cabs.  Like Professors Tubby and Saltana in JB Priestley's (1894-1984) rollicking novel, "The Image Men", Cooper and Mundy have a product to spin and sell: the correct study of taxi and related transportation services.  Like a small team of psychiatrists called in to quell a particularly contrary patient, Cooper and Mundy were generously paid to examine and diagnose a dysfunctional situation.  How successful, and necessary their diagnosis was is what I will be entertaining here, knowing as I do the local industry.  You might say I understand the asylum from the inside out, gaining perspective from long-term incarceration.

I certainly wished the City of Seattle had asked me and say, my taxi lobbyist colleague Chris to conduct the study. I am confident we could have conducted the study for a quarter of what the city paid, and perhaps for far less than that.  But why trust local expertise when you can overpay complete strangers?  Ray Mundy, in a remark to Chris said that "every city has a Joe Blondo, someone who has driven for years and knows everything about the local taxi business."  Thanks, Professor Mundy, for the endorsement.  I will try not to disappoint.

It is probably helpful to regard the Cooper/Mundy study, officially entitled "City of Seattle and King County Taxi, For Hire Vehicle and Limousine Services Demand Study," from the static perspective of reading it directly from the City of Seattle's website; and also from their city council presentation of nearly two hours on Tuesday September 2nd, 2013, which, beginning at 5:30 PM, ended promptly at 8:00 PM.  Approximately 40 minutes at the end were given to public commentary, each commentator allowed two minutes.  If you wish, you can watch an archived telecast via the City of Seattle website.  There you can watch and hear fervent Lfyt drivers tell how nirvana was reached simply by opening their hearts and car doors to the greater Seattle public.  Have your handkerchiefs ready and poised.

The major difference between the two was that the public forum allowed Cooper and Mundy to fully narrate their study, filling in gaps not always readily apparent, allowing for questions from the three sitting council members, Clark, Harrell, and O'Brien. Cooper's sometimes impassioned comments, along with Mundy's more subdued demeanor, added both color and additional information to the learned proceedings. 

Other than some disruptive public speakers at the end, the audience, packing a "standing room only" council chambers, were unusually attentive and polite.  Many in the audience clearly understood the potential potent of the study thus paying attention to the speakers rather than focus upon the various electronic devices cradled in their laps.  Council member Harrell in particular offered many penetrating questions, attempting to clarify current market impacts upon the taxi industry itself.  I detected hints of sympathy, which I personally appreciated, disdain the usual tone addressing all subjects taxi.  I do recognize that all three members of Clark's subcommittee are committed to a fair and responsible resolution.

The report includes about forty pages or slides, as Sally Clark pointed out, is somewhat unusual.  Cooper and Mundy certainly can't be faulted for not being thorough, it being the strength of their effort, clearly attempting to leave no issue unexamined.  Despite their obvious scrutiny I dispute some of their statistical data, meaning I strongly question where their data gathering took them.  If they are wrong, for instance, about market shares this is what happened when two individuals, uninitiated in both the taxi business and chosen city of study, come in like detectives looking for evidence.

I fully admit I have not read their other studies but is it possible that conclusions in those cases were not totally correct or accurate?  Once an assumption is made, it is often transferred.  I don't know if that is occurring here but I request that everyone involved, from the City, the County, the taxi industry and the other interested parties keep their critical mind connected.  Blind or tacit acceptance or denial does not assist toward permanent remedy. The local taxi industry has been ill, running a high fever for decades.  An ill-conceived prescription will only further sicken the patient.  Full-recovery should be the goal instead of a hastening to the morgue.

The following are some specific comments concerning data and conclusions.

City Market Share

Cooper and Mundy break it down 56% taxi, 27% limo, 11% ride share & 6% for hire. If that taxi statistic was true the industry wouldn't have gas money.  More accurate is about 75% give or take.  The for-hire percentage is also higher.  In regards to the limo figure does that include all those illegal "gypsy cab" pickups?

County Market Share

They have it as 53% taxi, 30% limo, 13% ride share & 4% for hire.  Taxi in reality is at least 60% and depending, on the weekends as high as 70%.  In this case the for hire percentage is also higher.  King County is their turf.  Drive over to Bellevue and check it out.

Visitor Market Share

The reports states it as taxi 69%, limo 19%, ride share 8% & for hire 4%.  This where I more or less agree but bump up taxi to 75-80 % and the for hires perhaps as high 10-15%.  The majority of the visitor limo rides are prearranged through the hotels because the tourists are frightened of the menacing "black cars" looming in on them. Some of the tourists standing on the streets truly look alarmed as well they should be.

Graph Data

Cooper and Mundy presented many beautiful and colorful charts worthy of many modernist exhibitions.  For instance take the weekly daily-rider usage or demand chart, its pastel peaks and valleys a work of art.  How accurate though is questionable because my 25 plus years out here have taught me the vagaries of the business, its ups and downs and everything in between. 

The Friday and Saturday peaks make perfect sense but when it is declared that Sunday and Monday share similar trends is when I know they got it wrong.  And what is that Thursday spike in the evening hours all about?  Maybe once a year, if the Seahawks are winning, do you see a truly busy Thursday evening, when they are scheduled for a NFL Thursday night game.  That just happened last week, an exhibition game against the hated Oakland Raiders.  Their graph really understates Sundays, which this summer, from my experience, from the hours 10 AM- 10 PM, have been busier than the same periods on a given Saturday, my wallet all the evidence I need.  With the arrival of the UW Husky college football season that could change the percentages.

Number of Vehicles

One alarming figure was the number of state-wide licenced limos, 1102, most which operate in Seattle and King County.  One statistic Cooper and Mundy didn't state is how many of them were either owned or driven by former Seattle taxi drivers.  My guess is 90-95% which, everyone, is part of the entire problem, and will remain until the licensing folks issuing all those new (taxi) for-hire driver licenses realize they must stop flooding the market with new (and inexperienced) drivers.

The FHV (for hire) total is 369 which includes 170 County-only.  A major problem is that no can tell the different between a City or County for hire car meaning we sometimes might have all 369 FHVs working the city streets all at the same time.  Scary!  And with little to no enforcement what is there to discourage them?  Essentially nothing whatsoever.

The taxi total is 928 cars, of which 240 are County-only translating into 688 City-plated or Dual-plated cabs.  That 688 figure explains the limo and FHV figures.  It is simple math, along with the crazy fact that there are over 3000 people licenced to drive a taxi in Seattle and King County.  Professor Mundy stated the figure as 4000.  Do the math, everyone, do the math!

The ride share number is unknown.

All Kinds of Surveys

Cooper and Mundy conducted all kinds of surveys, and I should know because me and Abebe T. were included in the stakeholder version, the good professors sharing tea with us at my favorite Chinese joint, Tai Tung in the International District.

The surveys were called public, institutional, stakeholder, and secret shopper, which were a total of 55 covert rides of various kinds.  The surveys were designed to solicit opinion, much unfortunately negative toward the taxi industry in particular.

The institutional respondents were particularly scathing.  These included restaurants, hotels, hospitals etc.  They have a very poor opinion of the local taxi drivers.  While I know some of the criticism is merited, I know from personal experience that much of it is plain and simple class bias.  An example of that was when a University Hospital administrator had a poor interaction with a cabbie, the hospital taxi stand instantly disappeared, and for years afterwards drivers were harassed by security.  I know as a living and breathing witness to this prolonged injustice.  Certainly drivers must be at all times civil and professional but their sometimes bad behavior contains an explanation, beginning with how the City/County trains and licenses new taxi drivers.

Anyone who has ever seriously driven taxi understands that it is a "minor" hell on earth.  The pressures, ranging from too many hours to traffic to outrageous costs to simply finding a fare can drive anyone, including myself, crazy.  I can state definitely that no human being is prepared for the madness that is taxi.  And the attitude that anyone and everyone should be inserted into the business without long preparation and consideration is just stupid.

But that is happening not only in Seattle but everywhere across the USA, innocents placed in a butcher shop, and you wonder at the screaming?  The major failure of the surveys was the lack of recognition of how we have arrived at poor overall taxi driver performance.  It is not accidental.  The simple and quick explanation is the ill-prepared driver, often not knowing how to drive a car let alone a taxi, succumbs to the inherent pressures and loses his or her mind.

And if you think the governmental agencies licensing the new drivers care, think again.  They collect the money, then boot the instant cabbies out into the public where everyone pays the cost for poor governmental judgement. With all of the months spent examining the local industry, Cooper and Mundy missed that most important fact.

One legitimate criticism beyond question is poor dispatching from the local associations, this tying into poor taxi response times


Personal reactions to the Cooper and Mundy report will vary I believe according to not only your knowledge of the current local transportation situation, but how you initially perceived the problem, the conundrum that is our taxi and related services.  Professor  Mundy said that, other than NYC, which has a long livery cab tradition in the outer boroughs, Seattle is the only major city to have inserted FHVs into the mix.  To me it shows the poor judgement displayed over the years by City and County regulators, regulatory mismanagement creating a confusion placed on the City Council's lap.  Given the level of the crisis the city council have overall been rather well humored, attempting to decipher a twisted equation.  Did Cooper and Mundy achieve clarity?  Were are the pegs placed in the proper holes?  Yes and No.

Overall this taxi professor gives the team an overall B grade, giving James Cooper a B plus, especially for his overall effort; and Ray Mundy a B minus for not understanding why the sour taxi attitude.  One of his final comments stated in part that no new taxi licences are merited because of the dysfunction revealed by the surveys.  One of the weaknesses of the study was the near omission of regulatory responsibility.  You mean we got to this dismal point all by accident?   When looking at any cause you have to focus on who is providing official guidance. 

Professor Mundy did rightly and correctly point out that the City and County have made subtanial improvements in both car quality and safety.  Given that, why is the City/County allowing non-inspected ride share cars out on the streets and highways?  Until the regulators begin understanding just how comprehensive they must be, the taxi industry and related services will remain in an utter state of confusion.  The regulators have guided us here.  Now what they are going to do is the question of the hour.

What impressed me the most concerning Professors Cooper and Mundy was what I see as their 80 to nearly 90% understanding of the local industry.  Given the relatively short time, what was it, four or five months, they did a good job unravelling a riddle. In truth they were given what some might see as an impossible task and they nearly reached the summit.  I can't fault them for the gaps.  A grade B to B plus is nearly Ivy League if not the University of Chicago.  Again, I personally appreciate the effort given.

Taxi Industry Response

Despite the seemingly cloudy scenario, the taxi industry have little to fear from either the report or perceived competitors.  Heightened efficiency and adaption to new technologies will quickly bring us to where we want to be, the recognized leader in personal transportation.  We already have most of the necessary infrastructure in place.  All we need to do now is remove nonsensical attitudes and we will be fine.  We have been our own worst enemies, and let this study serve as a much needed wake-up call.  Recent examples show what a little effort and commonsense can achieve. 

The airline industry, a mere five years ago were bleeding profits and ready for a permanent grounding.  Now even American Airlines is showing real profits.

The American automobile industry was four years ago driving on three wheels and now they have come roaring back.  We all know how great the Crowne Victoria is.  And we too can quickly achieve a new sustainability.

My prediction is that in six to eighteen months, all the major Seattle associations will be fine.  Whatever market share we might have lost will be regained.  Our response times will be the best in the nation.  And all of the complaints will turn to praise.  I know this will happen.  I know the talent we collectively have.  Let us recognize our errors and move forward.  I know we will be successful.  Contrary to the criticism, our drivers are great people.  A small refocusing and everyone will be okay.  There was nothing in the Cooper/Mundy study we can't quickly repair.  Now it is time to get to work and enjoy the journey!


Monday, September 2, 2013

Taxi As It Really Is, Parts 1 & 2

Taxi is a rapid-fire kaleidoscope of people and various personalities and situations.  One moment I will get a twenty dollar bill for a five dollar fare transporting an ill nine-year old dog, Soapy and his worried owner, to the next ride a stupid young man accusing me of going the wrong way when I am pointing north on one-way 1st Avenue North and there is no option but to go forward and around the block.  Driving taxi you know love and hate and whatever else is waiting around that next corner.  Yesterday I had a fare, my first of a very busy Sunday displaying how intimate that human interaction can be, always attempting to remember that the all of us earth-bound residents are very human and sensitive to each other.  Many interactions I have in the taxi, both happy and sad, good and bad, positive and negative would be impossible any place else.  Taxi, gives, taxi takes and internally the driver quakes!

Part one of yesterday's ride actually began Saturday night of the previous weekend, proving that patience and forbearance can pay off in unexpected ways.  Getting a call  at about 9:25 PM to 1305 NE 43rd, the "ugly mug" apartment building famous for it unusual facially prominent "bas reliefs" gracing the weathered brick.  The call was confusing, with the young Chinese student Vicki calling Yellow multiple times, causing madness and agitation.  Sensing that she would really be going to the airport, I stuck with it, rejecting other calls I received after getting my "no-show." 

Having talked to her over the telephone it was clear Vicki was "freaking out" but I believed that indeed we would be going to Sea-Tac.  Finally about 20 minutes later the frantic woman runs out of the building.  Her flight to Miami is leaving at 10:50 PM and we have little more than an hour to get there.  Compounding everything we get four block away when she realized she had left her passport.

Once again underway I understand that we might not make it in time.  Telling her that, I also emphasize that none of this is reasonable.  Prompting her panic was a deranged landlord who pressured her to have everything moved out even though her lease ran through the end of August, which was a week away. Vicki was obviously being bullied.  There is a good reason why Bob Dylan wrote "Dear Landlord."

I-5 south-bound was no fun because the freeway was clogged with post-Mariner game traffic.  Doing my best at times prudently zigzagging I make it to the airport clock in 15 minutes.  Being a wise woman she gave me a great tip because she now had a full 40 minutes allowing her to reach the departure gate.  My encouragement led her to checking in over her "smart" phone.  We had a very friendly parting, both of us pleased she would be soon "winging it" down  calmly to Florida.

Part 2 was yesterday morning  Having overslept it was just past 11 AM when I finally got out there working.  It is always "where to work, where to go?" the pressure to make the correct decision intense.  The "University," meaning zone 150 opens up and boom I get a call and an amazing, a 11:30 AM time-call with the very same Vicki.  Calling her I tell her I'll first grab a cup of coffee then I'm there.

Arriving again at the "ugly mug"  this time she is out front with a pile of luggage and her mother and I believe her brother.  She is escorting them back to the airport.  Her mother, knowing how I had zoomed her daughter to the airport, was very friendly and supportive.  During the ride south Vicki, acting as translator, conducted a lively conversation.  Suffice to say, a genuine connection was made, pleasing everyone, conveying the "commonality of the human experience."  To be treated this warmly by complete strangers was moving.  And I also earned sixty dollars for a taxi ride well done, getting my Sunday moving in clearly the right direction.  As I am wont to say, welcome to taxi!


If you can, make it to tomorrow's 5:30 PM Cooper and Mundy City Council  presentation.  We need a full taxi house.