Monday, January 27, 2020

Mindless Uber & Lyft Overcharges Passengers Fleeing Seattle Mass Shooting

What happened during the January 22nd, 2020, 5:00 PM downtown 3rd & Pine shooting aftermath is as much about the city of Seattle and as it is about Uber and Lyft's unfortunate response---overcharging panicked customers fleeing the area.  What everyone has since found out is that the two remaining shooting suspects, William Ray Tolliver and Marquise Latrelle Tolbert, had many previous arrests, Tolliver arrested 50 times, with Tolbert 24 times over the past few years.  And the reason for Uber and Lyft's price gouging during this crisis were apps governed by algorithms electronically (and mindlessly) setting rates based upon demand regardless of why passenger demand is generated.

By this time, Uber lack of morality is well known, caring only about money and little else, all and any repercussions be damned. While both Uber and Lyft are offering refunds, it is obvious this kind of price surging will reoccur again and again across the globe, nothing changing, the companies holding no interest in modifying their behavior. That is the way it is.  What I am really saying is, don't believe self-serving apologies applied as media bandages, assuaging self-afflicted wounds.

And in reflection, the shooting displays Seattle and King County's usual and typical governmental response to real issues affecting the overall city, spotlighting its present and ongoing tolerance of open criminal activity in around 3rd & Pine and greater downtown, irritating anyone witnessing what now is commonplace---blatant drug selling and verbal and physical assaults centered around the area MacDonalds. Why fear arrest when you know you will be quickly released, leading to what occurred: indiscriminate shooting killing one innocent bystander and wounding seven others. None of this is surprising and here is why.

The City and County government in total decided years ago, and I am including successive mayors, county executives, and city and county councils, to prioritize the unnecessary while ignoring real and serious issues afflicting the region.  This kind of decision making is manifest everywhere, from building bike lanes while traffic continues to clog city streets, to allowing the dismantling of a multiple story construction crane on Mercer Street during busy, daylight traffic, the crane crashing down and killing two drivers, this and many other examples displaying a severe lack of thought and careful planning.

"Why do it right when instead, far more fun doing it wrong," seems to their blaring credo, a kind of blind operational advice for the governmentally stunted.  This kind of behavior also seen in the continual building of traffic intersection barriers upon residential streets, impeding normal traffic flow and knocking cars out of alignment.  Instead of partnering with the State of Washington to develop more stringent driver licensing standards, and indeed make everyone truly safer, the  City of Seattle plants trees and flowering scrubs in the middle of the street, achieving little more than aggravation while not improving driving skills or civility, the same issues festering and extant, worsening by the minute.

And yes, who opened the floodgates to Uber and Lyft, encouraging their reckless, corporate behavior?  You know who, the very same individuals letting emotionally damaged young men repeatedly roam Seattle's downtown streets---fighting, selling drugs and randomly shooting people.

If this is progressive and liberal policy at its best, then perhaps an alternative is necessary, like using commonsense as your guide minus harebrained theory. Who knows, maybe admitting the truth will truly set us all free, free that is to come up with real and permanent solutions assisting and aiding all involved equally.   Could that be any worse than the now usual Seattle talk, talk talk resulting in spinning circles going round and round and round ad nauseam?

I don't think so, or like the City of Seattle and King County, perhaps I am just not thinking? 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Aliened by Poverty & No, Olaf, No! & How Did The Cabbie Not Know It Was Snowing In The Mountains?

If anyone doesn't know, poverty makes people crazy, altering behavior and actions.  I say this because its clear many don't understand this obvious connection between cultural messaging and resultant behavior but immersed as I am daily in our prevalent, actionable society, not only do I see it, I am personally affected.  Case in point was a call this week to a decrepit apartment complex located in the 6600 block of Corson Avenue South.  Simply by talking on the telephone, I expected trouble due to not being told the exact location of their apartment, the complex a ramshackle, somewhat sprawling collection of broken down units masquerading as something other than prison cells.  They needed to put some items in the trunk, with the husband/boyfriend sarcastic when I didn't acknowledge the box contained a flat screen TV they were returning to the Renton Walmart.

Turning right out of the driveway, making my logical way to southbound I-5, the gentleman said I was going the wrong way, implying I was instantaneously cheating them.  Giving them one opportunity to calm down and continue, he refused to relent, prompting me to take them back to where we had started.  Raising the volume, the accusations grew, knowing minus any doubt I was a thief.  Beyond saying "What did you want to pay?" truly not caring one way or the other the route taken, chiefly interested in taxi efficiency and little else.

I present this only to say, poverty is alienating, affecting all who encounter it.  Did I want to hurt this couple on any level in any manner whatsoever?  No, not at all, only wanting to get them quickly from point A to B as a relative was waiting for me at Harborview Hospital after an earlier day surgery.  But the husband knew, having been repeatedly kicked, that I was just another someone, anyone out to do him harm.  How could there be any argument?

Too Many Drunks Upon A Post-Seahawk Defeat Sunday 

Were the fans drowning their sorrows, their gridiron heroes having lost their playoff game earlier in the day?  Perhaps they were, encountering three in a row while snow fell, the second drunk literally carried to my cab from Olaf's Tavern in Ballard, attempting to give me their over-served problem as I quickly drove off, leaving them to it, whatever they wanted to do or not with their inebriated buddy. 

Just prior to him I spent a good 45 minutes with a staggering drunk who couldn't remember her debit card pin code.  Why did I allow her into the cab?  More than once, when sane and sober, I have given her rides from Ballard to a favorite Capital Hill restaurant.  Tonight she was drunk and leaving a casino, clearly tragedy taking hold.  Yes, she was trouble but had earned credit which I cashed in, even assisting her to the door, doing what I can when reason and commonsense calls for an extra dose of empathy---vital oxygen to the momentarily afflicted.

Hey Stupid! Dial 511 or listen to KOMO  radio every 4 on the hour

Saturday, dispatch was asking for a cab with chains after a cabbie dolt loaded up a Hopelink fare to Yakima utterly oblivious to the reality that greater Western Washington was experiencing snow, and that chains were required to get over the I-90 pass.  That he wasted everyone's time, including his own says everything, so why should I comment further, having already said it?

Sunday, January 12, 2020

If You Really Want Us To Accept The Fare, Here Are Some Simple Suggestions & The Real Reason Why Larry Gossett Lost His KC Council Seat

Today my blog is directed toward one particular group, and that is the folks collectively making up Puget Sound Dispatch ( Seattle Yellow Cab) and those in charge of dispatching the calls (bells) to the taxi fleet. While they don't seem to realize it, what we have here is a failure to communicate, that is, to accurately and correctly send out account fares in a manner allowing us to understand where the call is, and whether it makes any sense to accept the fare.  And it isn't that PSD doesn't understand this, because when an airport run is dispatched, the word "Airport" is always attached to the initial fare offering, clearly communicating that its both an important and good fare, ensuring of course that the call is quickly accepted and attended to.

Yes, a very simple and effective method guaranteeing the customer will get to their flight on time.  That they don't take this commonsense approach with equally important account time calls is something that should change, and here are my suggestions on how it should be done, and in the end, making PSD, the cabbie and the account customer very happy.

When the fare is offered, the following steps should be taken:

1) Like the "airport" designation, designate that it is a good fare, for example, if it is going somewhere in Eastern Washington , mark it with an "E WA," telling the cabbie that its a fare you want to have.  Another major reason for providing this kind of information is that Seattle's horrible traffic means you sometimes need to have a good reason to battle traffic getting to that fare 4 miles away,  not making good sense on any level accepting a "far away bell" when its going to take you 20 minutes of hard driving to get there, all for $5.00.

By labelling the call in some positive way----"Good Fare" or "$100.00 plus Fare" or "Going to Kent," it will enable the cabbie to make quick, coherent decisions.  That PSD is currently unhappy is signaled by their telling you, once the call is rejected, that you just lost a $40.00 run, etc.  Personally, I find this kind of response insulting because none of us cabbies want to "throw away money," PSD's actions a kind of "sticking their tongue out," taunting for not accepting the fare, implying minus any doubt they think (and know) I am an idiot.

2)  Provide part of the address when the fare is offered, again providing us necessary information.  That this is now sometimes done suggests it is something that should occur 100% of the time.  Again, given Seattle's traffic congestion, it is something I need to know.

3)  Provide the time-call time.  Say I am in Zone 190, and I am offered an account time call at 4:00 PM in Zone 105, and I see the info "Time Call Due in 30 minutes," telling me that I will have the time to make it without "killing myself," fighting the damn traffic to the pickup address.

And, ladies and gentlemen, these are the simple solutions to a nagging issue.  Communicate, PSD, and you will be rewarded with better service by all those deranged cabbies.  After all, this is a working partnership, and all of us are paying $180.00 per week for these dispatch services.  My advice then is, stop acting like there is an ongoing war between driver and PSD, and instead, do what is necessary to assure good service 24 hours a days in a 365 day year.

And lastly, peace and goodwill to all men and women, cabbies included.  Amen!

Larry Gossett's Complaint

I bring up the subject of the now defeated longtime King County Council member because, last week, he could be heard on KNOW radio lamenting his unexpected electoral expulsion from the County Council.  But I know something everyone listening at that moment didn't know, and that is Larry's complete failure to remember our (the local taxi industry's lawsuit) against King County when he was the sitting Council President.  I know this because, earlier this year, Larry was a passenger in my cab and I asked him about it.  No, no recall at all.  That we battled in the courts for months?  No.  That I led the fight?  No.  That Green Cab was allowed not to follow the rules governing the issuance of 50 KC medallions?   No, not remembering any of it.

Yes, Mr Gossett is a nice and caring man, having served Seattle and King County, and in particular, the minority community for many years.  But then again, it wasn't nice what he did to all us aggrieved cabbies, and not for a second remembering, explaining why he lost the election, because, how can you claim to be prepared to govern when you don't know where you are at any particular moment.  My question is, just where were you, Mr. Gossett, when we were spending over $100,000 trying to get your attention?

Oh, that's right, you don't appear to remember!

Postscript 01/13/2019 9:48 AM

To underline my point about marking, highlighting fares, my first fare yesterday after posting yesterday noted "Going to airport" which certainly got my attention. Starting from the 5900 block of Airport Way South, I got to the Museum of Flight in 6-7 minutes.  As I said, provide us with the necessary info and off all of us fly to the bell!  Yes, taxi reality as I know it.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Uber Is Running Scared In California

Uber, along with on-demand delivery service, Postmates, jointly filed a lawsuit Monday, December 31st, aimed at blocking a new State of California law called Assembly Bill 5 (or AB5 for short),  a law that took effect the next day, on January 1st, reclassifying gig workers as something less than solely independent.   In addition to that effort, Uber, along with Lyft, Doordash, Postmates and Instacart, have collectively pooled 110 million dollars to put an initiative ballot measure upon the November 2020 ballot designed to effectively block what the new law intends, Uber and the others wanting to stop independent, freelance "gig" workers from being reclassified as employees, understanding they will annually be responsible for hundreds of millions in additional expenses.

Uber is also mad that some professions are exempted from the new law while they are not, Uber finally getting the idea they are no longer a "favored child."  Their statement that "There is no rhyme or reason to these nonsensical exemptions." says everything about the corner they feel backed into, understanding full well their ten-year long regulatory honeymoon is over---California, the City of London amongst others doing what should have been done years ago: acknowledging that Uber is a rogue operator minus moral limits. 

All this says, along with their continuing financial losses and bad publicity, that in 2020, Uber is in big trouble, and only a blind optimist thinks their situation will somehow be improving soon.  As previously noted, their founding CEO has cut all ties to his former company.  Soon, I wouldn't be surprised if the big industrial investors propping up Uber also disappear, tired of losing tens of billions of dollars. 

I am also doubtful that California voters will suddenly be sympathetic to companies like Uber, Lyft, etc crying foul while milking their workers for every dime they can extract.  It is a bad situation, something no longer to be condoned.  Three cheers for California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and her colleagues for telling Uber they can go to hell, or something like that.  As said, it has been a long time in coming.

(Editor's note:  This article was written in part from news reporting featured in the NY Times, the Guardian, and the San Francisco Chronicle.  The opinion expressed of course is mine, and solely mine)