The taxi industry problems and issues both locally and nationally are completely resolvable. One important point should be clear. We cannot wait for the local regulators to come up with our solutions. Working in partnership yes but as we have found out in Seattle, depending on local officials is like Samuel Beckett's play, "Waiting for Godot." Good luck. Beware of people who are paid to care. Once the 5:00 PM whistle blows they are gone, along with any thought of you. No one but ourselves will take care of us. To believe otherwise is sheer foolishness.
The following are some suggestions that, if taken seriously, will begin to lead us out of our current wilderness.
As an industry total, we can no longer accept potential drivers who are NOT PREPARED to be taxi drivers. We can no longer be an "industry on training wheels." We must recognize that we are a profession and emulate what they do in London. My definition of a profession is any position where you can make $100,000 or more working full time. In Western Europe and Great Britain and the major US taxi cities like Chicago, San Francisco, NYC and yes, Seattle, the professional driver is pulling in that kind of money. There is a reason why the potential cabbie in London spends years memorizing all those streets. It is about the big money to be made and nothing else. One simple act will alter the equation.
For instance, if in Seattle when that newly Seattle/KC driver comes knocking on Yellow's door, they are given a simple twenty verbal and written question pre-test before they are allowed to drive at your association. If they don't get 100 percent of the answers, tell them to come back in a year and they can try again. Notify Seattle/KC that they sent out yet another ill-prepared candidate. If Orange, Farwest, Northend and STITA followed suit, we would be well on our way to solving the professionalism issue.
Demand Improved City & County Training
Both locally and nationally demand that regulators strengthen new driver criteria along with rewriting and toughening tests and questions. Expand training to a minimum of two weeks. Put all potential cabbies through "driving simulation" tests. Do not license anyone who has not held a state-issued driver license for at least five connective years. Do not allow any map use during testing. All routing questions should be oral.
Revamp Association Training
All associations should also take a new attitude concerning their own training. Not only should associations offer new driver training but remedial continuing education should be offered quarterly. Strict testing will remove poor and inept drivers from association eligibly lists.
Adopt New Technology ASAP
As Yellow as shown the past couple of weeks, app-based dispatching works now that it is using I-Phone and Android based apps. This is only the beginning for Yellow and all the associations nationally should forge ahead and answer the challenge. As I have said, taxi companies have been operating for over eighty years in the USA. No one knows how to transport people better than us. It is time to end any and all sloppiness. No one can compete with us when we are operating effectively. If we take a common-sense step by step path to resolving our problems, we will do fine. Complacency though will prove fatal.
Simple is as simple does. If the taxi companies and the regulators begin making these easy changes, I can see nationally that all of our issues will be completely behind us in one-two years. I personally remain committed locally to improving our industry. Join me, will you?
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