Monday, November 5, 2018

What Seattle And King County Needs To Do About Uber And Lyft & ACLU Advice About Police Stops & More Taxi Reality

Today's Seattle Times (10/05/2018) front page featured article by David Gutman asks "How Popular are Uber, Lyft in Seattle?", explaining how over 91,000 people daily utilize both ride-share companies in the overall Seattle-area, with 40% of the rides concentrated in four neighborhoods: Downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union and Capitol Hill, translating into daily worsening traffic congestion, along with impacting Seattle's quality of life.  The issues presented are now commonplace in America's larger cities, and nothing new to close observers of the TNC transportation "revolution," altering the transportation landscape to no one's gain save Uber and Lyft.

Instead of repeating of what are now obvious TNC maladies, the following list contains some suggested solutions to the problems posed by Uber & Lyft.  All of them are fairly simple and easily implemented if Seattle's and King County's governing councils can decide to revisit past decisions, repairing some of the damage caused only by them.  Unless new measures are taken, the problem will only worsen because Uber in particular will not, and does not take any bureaucratic direction unless it is at the point of the governmental gun.  Something should be done to relieve congestion.  It is only a question of will.  What will the City of Seattle and King County do, other than nothing whatsoever?

Five TNC Remedies & Suggestions:

1) Impose a one-year moratorium or freeze upon all new for-hire license issuance.  Allow natural attrition to reduce driver numbers.

2) Like taxis, require all Uber & Lyft operators to send their verifiable commercial insurance polices to City, County and State agencies. Too often, area TNC drivers only have non-commercial insurance, meaning they are picking up passengers minus coverage, thus endangering their customers and complicating the lives of drivers who have the misfortune of having one of these non-compliant drivers run into them.  I know because it happened to me.

3) Reinstate the Seattle/KC for-hire driver three-day training program, including strict TNC criminal background checks, eliminating the now too easy online testing.  Make sure that all new drivers---taxi, Uber, Lyft---know the City and County streets and addressing systems before issuing for-hire licenses. What this will achieve would be the professionalizing of an amateur fleet of drivers, recognizing that "adding water and mixing" is not an rational approach to operator accountability, not to mention safety and reliability.

4) Increase TNC traffic law enforcements, especially illegal stops.  Currently Uber & Lyft drivers stop anywhere at anytime, instantly blocking traffic and causing accidents.  How can this continued lack of enforcement remain justifiable?  Why does the SPD allow Uber & Lyft to do this?

5) Equalize fare rates to near taxi levels.  This will improve incomes for all taxi and TNC drivers and push many passengers back onto public transit.  By putting riders back onto buses and light-rail, congestion will lessen, alleviating rush-hour traffic blockages.

Take these five measures forward and everything concerning Uber & Lyft will change toward the positive.  What does Seattle and King County stand to lose by going forward with these recommendations?  Nothing at all.  What will they gain?  Overall better traffic movement and the satisfaction of righting a great wrong done to the taxi industry.

ACLU---Know Your Rights When Stopped By Police Or Immigration Agents

I came across this handout printed by the ACLU in various languages from a display I saw in Seattle.  I thought of mentioning it because us cabbies have been subject to unreasonable police stops for years.  The legal advice is broken down into seven sections, beginning with "If You're Stopped By Police" and ending with "If You Feel Your Rights Have Been Violated."  To read the information in your native language, please go to the ACLU website:

By knowing what to do, you can spare yourself lots of grief.  Knowing your rights are all important because police can and will do anything they want given the opportunity.  Past readers of this blog might remember some of the incidents I have outlined.  I quoted this line from Bob Dylan before, and it still applies:  "the cops don't need you, and man! they expect the same." Be careful out there!

And in full disclosure, I have been a non-lawyer member of ACLU for years, supporting their never ending effort for seeking justice for all Americans.

Two Taxi Anecdotes 

Here are two "taxi reality" tidbits taken from this weekend.  I have more but I am tired and just ready to rest and sleep for a few minutes.

8:13-8-32 PM

Do the math and that is 19 minutes, the time it took me to rush two dingbats from Husky Stadium Saturday night to the airport through the rain and dark and moderately heavy traffic, their flight leaving at 9:00 PM.  For the uninitiated, Downtown to Sea-Tac travel time is usually17-25 minutes given the best of conditions.  That they were fools, with one in particular having no idea how to "speak" to a cabbie, was just how it was, and after my heroic drive, not tipping but nonetheless getting fifty bucks for my effort.  How long should it have taken?  30 more-or-less minutes.

Jeepy Creepy! Awful!

Over the taxi years I have had amazing things said to me but Saturday night, during a very short ride from 102nd & Aurora North to North 85th & Wallingford, this obvious gay man stepped over the line by saying "unless you want me to blow you!" leaving me feeling, two hours afterward, violated and raped.  Yes, taxi as it really is, you the public property, the piece of meat!  That he will never enter my cab again goes without saying, doesn't it!

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