Saturday, January 26, 2019

Brochure Found! New Dispatch Update Six Days Late

(Editing Note:  I started this Sunday minus the MTI advertising brochure, something I plan on leaving at the PSD cashier's window for everyone to thumb through.  Other than my preamble, which you can skip, what you will be reading is my again quick glance at what MTI is featuring.  I do encourage all Seattle Yellow cabbies to go back and read my first posting concerning this dated 08/29/2018.  Yes, the process has been long but ultimately I feel we will all be pleased with the finished product.  As for all you paranoid cabbies out there, I assure you I have no financial interest in any of this other than 1)  hoping it makes me more money, and 2) my wish and desire for all of you to do the same.  That is my only motive but 3, I don't expect anyone to believe me.)

Sometime in June 2019 the new taxi system for Puget Sound Dispatch will be operational.  While originally slated to be functional and up this February, various delays including the actual building of the system and the City of Seattle's hesitation in approving the the new "soft" meter,  has held up planned implementation.  Due to all this, and given we are in the midst of the "school run" reason, it was decided by PSD management (Amin & Zim) that it just made sense to delay the start-up until the school's are out.  One could call this overcautious, but given what happened when "George's" system was installed and the resulting chaos, no one wants that nightmare to be repeated.

But despite this, PSD has been progressing forward, as the change over to the new tablets have indicated.  In addition, in the next couple of weeks, all single owners will be asked to pay for part of a new credit card payment system we will all be utilizing.  More on that later.

Just please be aware I am personally monitoring the ongoing process, given I too have a vested interested in everything working properly, along with the premise that fairness is part of every step forward.  Knowing we cabbies are, as a collective group, more than paranoid, I understand that clear and concise communication is essential.

And you should know that I know that just by mentioning the word paranoid, you are now paranoid.  My thirty years in this deranged business has taught me much, this just mentioned fact one of them.  While all of you might be many very descriptive adjectives, and often irritating to the quick, I remain committed to everyone receiving just and reasonable treatment.  If that means I too am crazy then I admit it, just another loyal card carrying member of the "Royal Taxi Insane Asylum Society," Chinese food my favorite "mood-controlling" medication.

MTI---The Next Generation of Dispatch 

MTI is used by both cab, bus and trucking companies around North America and the world, including the UK, continental Europe, New Zealand and Australia.


The Driver App operates on both tablet and smart phone devices, offering an open platform with endless operating options and access to live trips.

Soft Meter featuring high-accuracy GPS and easy to read meter display.  This is operated in a "blue tooth" signal kind of fashion, the meters no longer sealed by a meter wire and clip but still completely secure.

Real-time GPS featuring map plotting, area stats, dispatch and trip navigation, allowing drivers to easily switch between trip info and navigation screen.  What this means is that individual drivers will no longer have to utilize their own GPS devices, your new computer system offering that function.

Two-way communication allows two-way messaging feature between dispatch and cabbies.

Web TelOp is the screen the dispatchers will be using.  Please note that dispatch in its entirety will be solely based in Seattle by next summer. Web TelOp is both simultaneously more simple and complex than our current call-taker screens, providing more instantaneous information for call takers and supervisors.

MTI booking app.  This has real potential depending on how everyone wants to use it.  Since it has been verified by Seattle/King County licensing, it just isn't theory that all companies can match TNC app rates if desired.  Regardless of that, our new app will have driver details and photographs along with payments options and driver/passenger communication options.  Driver tips and driver rating can be available, along with email receipts and fare quotes and fare price estimations.

As for the payment system, both Square & the MTI system will be used, with Square ultimately becoming the back-up system.  And overall, MTI's problem solving abilities will be a prime positive,  MTI providing quick 24/7 solutions for all potential system failures.

Expect to have more direct management communication soon.

Seattle/King County Taxi For-Hire Fee Reduction

Yesterday, when renewing my for-hire, I was pleased to discover that it had been reduced to $135.00 from$180.00.  Are you amazed?  I am.

Taxi Protests & Strike in Spain

In it's 01/23/2019 edition, the New York Times reported taxi driver protests in both Madrid and Barcelona against Uber and the Spanish TNC Cabify.   Madrid cabbies are on indefinite strike.  While we have been sheep, the Spanish cabbies are lions, roaring at Uber and their governmental supporters.  I have taken cabs in both cities.  During my 1982 honeymoon, we took cabs all over Madrid.  It was fun.

WA ST L&I Back Again?

There is an attempt to once again to make us take on L&I insurance in the WA ST legislature.  HB 1515 & SB 5513.  More later upon this expensive subject.

Taxi App Rates

Yes, taxi app rates have been deregulated for a few years now, something verified for me last week by Seattle/KC Licensing.  Green Cab says they will be taking advantage of that.  We'll see if and when that happens.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Three Days Off Clearly Not Enough......

With the MLK Jr holiday I was able to avoid the cab for 3 days but clearly it wasn't enough as somehow this afternoon I misplaced the glossy MTI brochure I intended to use to update everyone about Puget Sound Dispatch's plans concerning the new dispatch system.  Maybe daylight will reveal it but once again, more delay, something too commonplace in taxi-land.

But my dilemma is indicative of what the taxi lifestyle (or death-style) is, never having adequate time for anything other that grinding yourself into the ground trying to make that ever elusive dollar.  While having a good past week money-wise, it only seems that way because on average I once made the same amount just working Saturdays and Sundays. Uber is not only killing our business, it is killing me.

And yes, while complaining vociferously about my fellow cabbies I do understand how difficult it is to make sense of the oft times nonsensical world that is taxi and living in an alien culture called the good, old USA.  All I can do tonight in response is go to sleep and start the crazy routine all over again. That's my reality, and for all the cabbies in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, London, Paris and all those many cities and town around our globe sharing that grim reality, I wish you the best.  Good night is all I can say.  Sleep well and make some money in the morning!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

When The Dead Follow The Blind---The Folly Of The Seattle Cabbie


While an optimist, I am also realistic.  Yes, while hoping for the best, I do understand that the majority of my fellow Seattle cabbies remain blind to their own reality---that by failing to culturally  assimilate to their adopted country they remain tied to an ignorance preventing them from ever truly leaving their country of origin, an uncut umbilical cord never allowing a true birth from constrained thought to real independent thinking. 

Tonight, talking to a group of immigrant drivers at the train station, again confirmed what I already knew, that being serious about themselves is not a part of their agenda.  For ten years I have attempted to awaken the greater Seattle taxi community to what is occurring around them in plain sight but when you don't want to see you don't and that is just the way it is.  It isn't that they are bad but again, their indifference is frightening and no amount of shaking altering their stance.

And since I am convinced of that, why should I insist pushing against inertia, angering me so much that here I am writing this at 11:25 PM when instead I should be in bed after a very long taxi day.  In short I am sick of their imbecility.  I don't like it, I don't need it and I don't want to communicate with it.  It has nothing to say to me, nothing at all, their nonsensical conversation mere gibberish, a language I refuse to speak.  It is that simple. And yes, I have been a fool for trying when instead I am better off sleeping which is what I am about to do, sleep and forget all about taxi, my dour dreams a blank nightmare freezing the night and the too rapidly approaching morning.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Like California's Governor: Questioning Rates & Fees At Seattle Yellow Cab & Insult---What Do The People Want?

I am not the only one feeling I am being overcharged for services or products rendered.  California's new Governor, Gavin Newsom deciding that the state of California is paying too much for the drugs provided by the major pharmaceutical companies and is putting together plans to force the drug firms to lower costs.  Newsom's point is that he knows the drug firms can lower their prices but instead are charging whatever they want simply because they have in the past, with no incentive in changing their behavior.  While not interested in argument, Newsom insistent that the situation must change soon. 

Similarly then is the legacy the group of Yellow Taxi single owners is taking on, one where associations, be they Yellow or Farwest or Eastside for Hire, have acted as having complete control over their operations, driver concerns more than secondary, they are essentially nonexistent.  It is this attitude that us single owners at Yellow/PSD have decided to challenge.  Since we are the ones monetizing Puget Sound Dispatch, we need to have both a voice in operations and a clear understanding to just how our money is utilized and where it is going.  Our demands are based simply upon company performance, or the lack of it, in the following areas:

Available customers and accounts, plus advertising

Quality of dispatch services, including call-taking and support

Support services including cashiering, driver superintendent support and City of Seattle & King County regulatory advocacy and communication

Weekly dispatch and daily cashiering fees

The reason we are going forward is simple.  No one else is going to do it for us, Seattle & KC licensing only interested in collecting fees and little else.  A responsible regulatory agency would be immediately looking into Yellow Fleet's attempted manipulation of their in-house mechanics, resulting in them fleeing the premises.  By telling them their rent was suddenly doubled, they decided to leave, leaving cab maintenance and associated passenger safety in question.

Not only is Seattle & KC not interested in driver advocacy, they are not committed to passenger safety.  They will deny this but from what I have seen over the years, nothing exists to refute this, Seattle & KC allowing Yellow and the other associations to do whatever they please.  That very palpable reality tells us, once again, that we are on our own.  Change will only occur if we are the ones implementing it.

Three owner committees have been formed as our speaking representatives:

Puget Sound Dispatch (PSD) committee

Seattle & King County committee

Action (insurance & government fees) committee

I am a member of the committee that will be meeting with City, County, Port and State officials.  I am including myself solely due to my long experience dealing with government intransigence, knowing the minefields we will be entering.

I remain impressed with single owner resolve.  They are serious.  They are seeking justice, all of which explains why I am supporting their efforts.  Our industry is at risk.  We want to enhance our futures.  It is that simple.

Are City/County Taxi App Rates Not Subject to Fare Rate Regulation?

According to a presenter at the single owner meeting, our meter rates are not regulated where apps are involved.  One person in the know emailed that yes, it is true, our app rates, along with Uber & Lyft, have been unregulated for the past 4 years.  It is news to me and I await response from the City & County.  The implications, as one might guess, are many.


A few nights ago on Pier 69, Rick, who once owned and ran Red Top Taxi, joked about a passenger saying to him "Don't be insulted but.....," making Rick laugh because he knows, like I know and every cabbie knows, insult is inherent to driving cabs.  Two recent examples for your reading displeasure.

School runs have become part of our September to June bread & butter.  One associated difficulty is, upon arriving at a school for the first time, to know just what are the pickup procedures when picking up a child for the first time.  That I even entered the school to inquire about the child was a violation to office staff at one particular school, repeatedly telling me you must be at that side of the school.......etc, clearly not understanding their condensation.  My response to this type of nonsense is this: Do you want competency or incompetency?  Knowing what I am doing was clearly offensive to them.  Why is the question.

This next one couldn't have been stranger.  The passenger was going a mere 3 blocks away from a fabric store to a grocery store.  In that short span she began questioning my knowledge of where the store was even though I had said "I had been there many times."  Yelling at me to "Shut up! Shut up!" when questioned about what she was doing, she further underlined her derogatory behavior by stating "I am a doctor!"  When I said, "then what does that make me" she said, "Everyone makes their life decisions."  And that, lady, I thought, certainly applies to you.

Yes, such fun beneath the the taxi moon and sun!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Owner Uprising At Seattle's Yellow Cab?

Sometimes people have just had enough of being wronged, or taken for granted, or even worst, not recognized for the human beings they are, worthy of respect, equality and fair treatment.  In my 30-year long tenure with Seattle's taxi industry, it has always been clear that the driver, and more lately, the single owner, was and is considered expendable, not unlike a military's view of its personnel, sending soldiers into battle knowing many will expire but understanding battle's must be won and people will die, and that's just how it is, the Commanding Officers confident soldiers lost can be easily replaced, attrition a part of any war.   Equating that to Seattle's local taxi association as a whole, company and individual profit has always been the goal minus passenger and driver well-being and satisfaction, buttering their own slice of bread their solitary focus.  Any honest person acknowledges that.  It is no secret.

So yesterday a sizable group of Seattle Yellow Cab single owners got together to collectively say that they have had enough of being exploited, of being Puget Sound Dispatch's "cash cow," that PSD's diminished (and disappearing) customer services, along with a waning and deleterious business model and customer base, is not acceptable, and quick resolution is both required and necessary.  That I am sitting here writing in a favorite coffee shop instead of working says everything about their complaints, Yellow's telephone system inoperable most of this day, Sunday, incapable of taking customer's orders.  How can you make a living when the very system you are depending on, and paying $180.00 per week for, is not working?

This is why many are saying "enough is enough," we can't do this any more, that something has to change, and change now.  One owner put it succinctly by saying "We start working at 3:00 AM and have to work to 7:00 PM to make any money.  When do we time to spend with our families?" And how can you disagree, when drivers say they want to do something more than working themselves to death?  Others said "This is America, we have rights!"  This is especially forceful given that everyone in that room, other than me, came from countries suffering under authoritarian, dictatorial governments.  In other words, since they escaped from madness, they are not interested in being manipulated by Yellow Cab, having enough of despotic government.

The question I want answered regards PSD's revenue stream.  What are their monthly operational costs versus monthly gross income?  Why this is important is due to the owner's need to know where their hard earned money is going.  Everyone knows that primary owners raked in millions of dollars during Yellow's "salad days," the era before Uber and Lyft took over.  While no one argues that PSD shouldn't operate in the black, any current profit, after covering costs should be put back into both building up business and providing all the long suffering owners and lease-drivers with some much needed economic relief.  Where is empathy, one might ask?  Does it exist?

Other prime concerns were about how the City of Seattle & King County regulate us, charging what many feel are onerous fees and charges.  Another question is why have they limited our insurance company options, that by limiting us to only Grade A firms we are paying more than cabbies in other cities.   What bothers me about Seattle & KC regulators is their refusal to regulate the associations.  Us, they have no problem, punishing us for the most trivial offenses.  But the taxi associations can do what they want minus oversight.  How is this fair?  It isn't, and don't try to say it is.

Others said they wanted taxis plates changed to an exempt status in recognition of our public transit status, allowing us to use bus lanes and HOV lanes where we are currently barred.  That WAT (wheelchair) cabs hold that ability is viewed as unequal and unfair, knowing we will be ticketed while our WAT brethren remain exempt.

What will come from all this is anyone's guess but labor actions and legal response could certainly follow.  It is a simple matter of resolve.  But hopefully PSD will response appropriately, recognizing that compromise is the best choice.  Personally that is what I think will occur but I am naturally an optimist, thinking that commonsense can and will prevail.  We will see is all I can say.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Taxi Doggerel Times Two: The Taxi King & Farewell To New Year's Money

Yes, taxi money is way, way down, and truly I feel I am the fool, the clown, hitting the road minus the once monetary hip-hip- hooray! and the now past New Year's passenger parade previously clamoring for our cabs now disappeared and gone upon once singularly regal business days, Uber a new and smiling Marquis du Sade torturing us without thought, disregarding screams and shouts from dank chambers below.  Yes, taxi business upon New Year's Eve 2018 was dead, Fred, Sally and Sue! and truly there is nothing about it that we can DO except rub our eyes and rue the day, rue the morning and evening past all cheer and obvious delight, all business vanishing into that once good night!

                                                          The Taxi King

                                        The Taxi King has fallen down

                                                       lost his crown,

                                       and now just another average cabbie

                                                      circus clown,

                                      all his monetary taxi tricks

                                                        pouring down the drain,

                                     "why! the poor boy has gone insane"

                                              and wandering in circles

                                       puzzled upon what to do and maybe,

                                              just maybe, going back

                                                      to therapist's school,

                                          obtaining all those silly psychology degrees

                                             and charging one hundred dollars

                                               an hour while sipping martinis 

                                               someplace warm, just possibly

                                                        discovering a new

                                                 and much better occupational


                                                    Farewell to the New Year

                                    Alas, alack, farewell to fond New Years' Eve

                                    of holiday's past, when, just like firecrackers

                                    bursting in the dark, a dependable blast propelling

                                    passengers and money into the cab, business is

                                   gone, a tuneless song drowned out by Lyft and

                                   Uber, all remaining cabbies left in mindless stupor

                                   and despair, their tears lost in the rain-driven, wind-

                                   driven air!


Yes, yes, business is bad, business is sad but yesterday I ended the night with a sixty-six dollar airport run, so occasionally, very occasionally there exists some old fashioned fun!  Happy New Year everyone! and hope for the best as it can become much worse than it is, scary to imagine, and even scarier to endure.