Sunday, December 26, 2021

End of Year Report: Taxi As It Is In Seattle, Washington Late December 2021

 How Could There Only Be Three Yellow Cabs Working at 7:00 PM Christmas Night?

The True State of Seattle Taxi 2021

2021, as most of us realize, was a chaotic year due to the various waves of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the nation and world, disrupting normal and accepted routines, everything either upside down or teetering upon the proverbial cliff's edge.   While business was good throughout the year 2021 at Seattle Yellow Cab, it was more beneficial for the drivers than our customers, who sadly, often suffered through long waits or not having their taxi not arrive at all, forcing them to find an alternate way home or to important doctor appointments.  

While individual decisions made by Yellow (Puget Sound Dispatch) and other associations contributed to, and impacted various levels of customer service, the real source and issue is the regulatory stance taken by the City of Seattle and King County: we have nothing to do with it.  Shocking but its their true position, something repeated over and over, the statement being that the licensing of the drivers and their vehicles is their primary concern and very little else. Yes, it is true they pretend to be concerned about driver behavior but when it comes to guaranteeing there are actual cabs upon city and county streets meeting customer demand, the City and County is doing nothing,  and I mean absolutely zero to address this lack of cabs and reasonable service over a twenty-four hour day.  

Yesterday, Christmas night, a regular customer texted to tell me that dispatch told her Yellow had a total of 3 cabs working at about 7:00 PM, and I was one of them.  Yes, three cabs total to serve an area nearly the size of the state of Rhode Island.  And soon thereafter, there were only two because I quit after dropping off a passenger who had been waiting 1 1/2 hours at the Northwest Hospital Emergency Room.  And the reality is that nothing will be done to change or alter this kind of catastrophic scenario from repeating itself today, tomorrow and next year, illustrating perfectly what Seattle taxi is like as the year ends: a stumbling drunk slipping and falling upon their head, lying prostrate in the late December snow drifting over his/her shoes.  

The sorry answer is that all of this was, and is completely avoidable.  If the City and County had begun working with the associations over 24/7 passenger coverage, there would be plenty of cabs working around the clock, assuring that when a customer requests a taxi, that cab will show up in a timely manner.  I have used this example before but imagine if you entered a restaurant, and once placing your order,  never to be served your meal.  Your response would be outrage and rightfully so, having the expectation that since they let you in the door, your order would soon be placed on the table. But the situation in Seattle and King County Taxi-land do not meet these basic expectations.  Request a cab and the waiting game begins.  When will my cab arrive?  Ever?  Never?

Who knows but one fact is certain, the bureaucrats sitting in those downtown office towers have no idea, and though they will deny it, hold no real concern (or any concept) that are you waiting on the corner in the snow, the wind blowing, the temperature 20 degrees F. and five, ten, twenty minutes later still no cab in sight.  This is Seattle Taxi 2021.  

And what will happen in 2022?   I think it will be more of the same, and now you know, minus all doubt, who you can blame.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Greetings Once More, Once Again From Arcata: Vladimir Putin The Saint Petersburg Cabbie Turned President Of Russia & Carrizo Plain---A National Monument New To Me & 310 Votes

Highway 58 West of Bakersfield

After a daylong drive from a newly discovered national monument to Arcata, I arrived to my almost birthday dinner of organic roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and steamed beets.  A nice greeting after plying California's roadways, finding roadway and routes new to me.  I can especially recommend CA Sate Route 58 west of Interstate 5, a sometime winding road taking you through some beautiful high desert landscapes.  There are also some incredible desert hills outside of Taft on Route 166, the view especially spectacular while proceeding up a mountainside near the turnoff for the Carrizo Plain National Monument.  While enjoying the view I retrieved two tossed beer bottles, mindless trash tossed by the mindless. Also in this general area were ugly reminders that oil production was once the ruling and crowned KING--- passing vast fields filled with giant oil derrick pumps working away, their up and down motion siphoning oil fueling today's carbon obsessed nation.  My late brother-in-law John was an oil field "mud engineer," someone who kept deep drilling holes thousands of feet into the ground open, explaining why John and my sister JoAnn lived first in Bakersfield, then Tehachapti.  And if you ever have the time, explore this part of California, seeing real parts of the state not presented in Disneyland or Hollywood, waving hello to all those alert raptors sitting on road signs peering for mice and kangaroo rats. 

Putin the Taxicab Driver 

Last week, Vladimir Putin revealed the hitherto surprising unknown personal history that in the late 1990s, while the new post-Soviet Union Russia was struggling to find its way to a new future, Putin, still the KGB employed (Committee for State Security) Colonel, moonlighted as a cabbie in Saint Petersburg (Leningrad).  It was hard times for the future Russian leader but just as he maneuvered the streets of the city, Putin was also working in the national government where, with contacts made, propelled himself and his friends to great wealth and political power.  

Cynics might say that driving cab made perfect sense for someone like Putin, one type of criminal activity leading to another, cabbies historically tarred with a malignant brush---all of us one step away from a jail cell.  But taking a more positive view, you could instead say that Putin's ascension to the pinnacle of leadership of a great and powerful nation proves just how capable your average cabbie is, and how underrated they are.   

University College London is currently studying a group of volunteer London cabbies in a comprehensive brain study due to their larger than normal hippocampus part of the brain, attempting to understand whether their intensive street knowledge of greater London can assist in finding cures for neurological maladies like Alzheimer's.  And Philip Glass, the now famous American Classical composer, drove taxi in NYC until he hit the big time sometime in his mid-30s, the rhythm of the big city streets music to his minimalist ears.  

I am sure there are many more examples but the point is made: we cabbies aren't just a bunch of stumblebums.  If folks keep insulting cabbies, you better watch out or Putin will fire one of those hypersonic missiles he keeps bragging about and blast you to smithereens.  Be forewarned! 

Carrizo Plain National Monument: Embracing Silence in a Noisy World

It wasn't until I looked at a California map Saturday morning did I notice there was this very large national monument piece of land directly west of where I was in my Bakersfield motel room.  It seemed close, and given my exhausted state, closer far better than miles away.  Proceeding west upon the Rosedale Highway (W-Bound SR 58) I left McDonalds/Taco Bell franchise-land behind and found myself in farming and orchard territory, driving until I passed under I-5 when suddenly I was alone, not much around but sagebrush and open country.  Coming to the intersection of SR 33 & 58, I turned south and finding my way, like I said, through "oil pump station land," and on to Taft, California where I mailed a letter (2:30 PM pickup).   From there, I soon picked up SR 166 and the turn to the monument.  

Again, I had no real idea what I was about to find.  High desert, yes I knew that but nothing beyond the hope of discovering a land and area special to know and be in, hoping to wrap myself in the gift that surprise delivers if only you try to find it somewhere, anywhere upon this planet.  Stopping at the sign stating I was now entered the Carrizo Plain National Monument, I saw that it was jointly managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Nature Conservancy, which I saw as something very positive, foretelling that I had made a good choice---nature's splendor and grandeur.

What I found myself in was a extremely broad valley formed by two mountain ranges, Temblor to the northeast and Calientes to the southwest, an area considered to be California's last great native grassland, and there I was, driving right smack down the middle of its 250,000 acres.  And making it all the better, there was almost no one there, seeing a total of 12 people during an entire day.  Pretty amazing when you think it's only a two hour drive from Los Angeles and nearly four million people packed in amongst all those freeways.  Was I happy?  Yes!

Later, with perhaps two hours of real daylight left, I found a campground nestled in the hills about 2 miles off the road.  Putting my "Big Five" sleeping bag down, I went for a walk and sat upon a hillside watching the full moon rise and the sun set.  Here is a haiku poem (5/7/5) I composed while sitting there.

                                                          Birthday Moon Over The Temblors

                                                               December full moon

                                                               rising amidst a pink glow

                                                               caressing parched hills

And that is exactly how it was, the longest in duration full moon of 2021 rising above the mountains and desert floor, along with a rapid dispersal of pink pastel daylight.  I spent a cold night looking up at the clearest sky, the full moon a bright lamp in the sky, with the Big Dipper directly above me poring bliss down from the near heavens. 

A Mere 310 Votes Cancelled the Recall

Sawant fended off her recall by the slimmest of margins but now she is calling it her great vindication.   I am right in calling her another version of Donald Trump.  Reality?  There is only one reality.  Hers!


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Greetings From Two Airports: How The WA State Department of L&I And Uber/Lyft Seriously Damaged A BYG (Yellow Taxi) Medallion Partner & Dogwilla---Another Bad Memory

Hello from Sea-Tac

5:40 AM on a December Tuesday morning, and wish I was asleep as I am tired as hell but here I am. once again heading south to Bakersfield and Tehachapti, this time to bury my second oldest sister, JoAnne, who departed our shared world September 28th, exactly a week after my visit to see her and say goodbye.  Lots to do but come Saturday, my birthday, in JoAnne's 2014 Kia Optima,  I will begin my journey northward, stopping in Arcata to see the ever famous and infamous "she-who-can't-be-named," or as she just told me over the telephone, "call me the Humboldt (County) Harpy." Today my layover is in San Francisco, which is where, I am guessing, I will finish composing and editing what you are reading.  Am I coherent?  Maybe.

This Past Weekend, in my Cab, I transported B., An Innocent Victim Bludgeoned by Uber, the City of Seattle and King County and the State of Washington 

I hadn't seen him in a while but B. is someone I have known for years from his involvement in the BYG Yellow Cab Co-op, and later, in Tacoma's ill fated Yellow Taxi Association.   Saturday I was taking him to a rental car agency, and while catching up the days, found out that he was now driving cab three days a week at the airport.  What a shock because this is someone who once owned 12 cabs and also an important part of company/association management, including, unfortunately, Tacoma's Yellow operation.  So what happened, how did this sad fate embrace him?  

It is a story you have heard before but this time it's far more personal, a name, an individual now attached to the twofold tragedy that was the nationwide municipal welcoming of Uber and Lyft; and simultaneously, Washington State's Department of Labor & Industry's misguided attack upon independent taxicab operators.  Like a boxer cornered in a ring, B. was hit repeatedly, left, right, to the gut, with a final uppercut to the chin knocking him out.  Part of the issue is that his BYG colleagues put him in the ring against the raging bull that was Jerry Billings, a L&I enforcement agent who took "no quarter," a religious crusader out for taxi blood.  

Most know the Uber/Lyft story, that how back in 2012 they invaded cities across the country, ignoring rules and laws, telling everyone, screw you! we are here to stay!" and suddenly, all the cities, Seattle, New York City, San Francisco included, began capitulating, having quickly understood there was money to be made licensing and taxing these interlopers, bringing us to where we are now.  BYG, like so many other taxi companies and associations, collapsed, and B.'s once tiny empire evaporated, his 12 medallions now worthless.  In the end, he gave them away, receiving nothing for something that was once worth a total of $3 million dollars.  Crazy, huh!? 

The L&I story was as bad or worse, with B. allowing himself to become the face of Tacoma Yellow and the target of Jerry Billings' wrath.  What Billings wanted was millions in back fees he said Tacoma owed L&I.  The argument continued for over a year, forcing Tacoma Yellow and B. into financial turmoil, and Tacoma Yellow's bankruptcy.  I don't remember all the details concerning B.'s issues but he was hit hard minus any real protection.  

And there you have it,  B. once again driving beneath the toplight.  Damn! was I sorry to hear it!

Dogwilla, former BYG general manager, was not a Nice Guy

Before I get to Frank, I gotta tell you I found some real food here at the SF airport: shrimp dumplings and chicken and steamed rice. Wonderful.

I mention the late Mr. Dogwilla because B. told me that in addition to his $80,000 annual salary, he received cash commissions for what I don't want to think about.  Some longtime readers might remember the scandal at Sea-Tac where $5 million dollars due to the Port of Seattle somehow disappeared, with Yellow losing the airport service contract because of it.  Frank always claimed to embrace law and order when dealing with us cabbies but for himself he might have had other priorities, and I for one think strongly that could have been true. 

No Exile for Sawant

Sorry to say, it looks like she will retain her position by couple hundred votes.  Yikes!


Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Sawant On The Brink & The City Of San Francisco Gets Away With Taxi Murder & Why A Taxi Driver Bill Of Rights Is Needed

Kshama Sawant Betrayed Seattle Cabbies

As I write this, on Pearl Harbor Day, the ballots are pouring in for this special recall election targeting Kshama Sawant, District 3 Seattle Council-member.  Today, in the Seattle Times, it is reported that the votes are coming in at a projected rate of 50% of eligible voters.  If I was still registered in the State of Washington, I would be voting yes, toss the silly person out onto the streets.  I will confess I once voted for her but now certainly regret that.  I see her as a more minor version of Donald Trump, someone who decides that existing rules do not apply to them, that whatever Sawant wants, Sawant gets.   Right, Left, Up or Down, Too Many Politicians are Simply Clowns!

I first encountered her at the Teamsters Hall in Tukwila, where on the podium, she promised to "work and assist" the local cab drivers.  Turns out she was lying, because in 2014 I personally watched her cast a vote to void the City Council bill capping Uber and Lyft, thus opening the floodgates, and one short year later, 28,000 of the monsters were roaming the streets, not 500 as had been agreed to. 

Sawant is a fraud. I believed her once but no more. Stonewall Jackson, that Country & Western singer once very popular, died on Saturday.  In 1959, he had his biggest hit, "Waterloo," crooning:

"Waterloo, Waterloo

When will you meet your Waterloo?

Every puppy has its day

Everybody has to pay

Everybody has to meet his Waterloo."

The song topped the charts for five weeks.  Like dear old Napoleon, I can only hope that today, Sawant also meets her Waterloo.  Or moves to Belgium. The country has good chocolate. 

November 8th 2021 Court Ruling Leaves the City of San Francisco with Bloody Hands

Back in 2010, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) opened a transferable medallion sale for $250,000 each, with the loans made through the San Francisco Federal Credit Union. 700 medallions were sold.  The City of San Francisco made $64 million from these sells.  But then, beginning in 2012, only two years later, Uber and Lyft came knocking, and San Francisco said "welcome, come on in," a move that quickly undermined the taxi industry, resulting in a massive medallion foreclosure by the credit union, losing a minimum of $28 million dollars.  From all this, the SFMTA was sued.  A jury ruled in their favor. The SFMTA is now happy, saying, that's right, we didn't do anything wrong.  Yeah right, nothing at all!  Watch out for those juries!

Taxi business is now slowly returning to the "City By the Bay" but that doesn't mean medallion values will ever reach again their former value.  The City of San Francisco said it is now trying to help rebuild the taxi industry after destroying it.  Isn't that "Liberal" of them?

A Taxi Bill of Rights

A local ally of the taxi industry is beginning to draw up what she sees as a State of Washington Bill of Rights for all State of Washington cabbies.  This is a good idea because taxi associations hold too much power over their independent contractors.  It is clear to me that all complaints and concerns over drivers actions and behavior should be overseen by the regulatory authorities and no one else.  This would provide the drivers needed protection from retaliatory actions from associations while providing real accountability when the driver warrants it.  I have been asked for ideas, and time permitting, they are coming.



Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Why Does The City Of Seattle Think It Needs To Control Your Every Movement? & Out-Of-Control Hopelink: Spending Over 175 Thousand Dollars Over Seven Years Transporting One Individual & Certainly All Wet: New Seattle September to November Rainfall Record & An Endorsement I Can Accept

 It All Started in the 1970s with all those Damn Traffic Circles

The popular mythology applied to the City of Seattle is that it is "free and easy," where anything goes, a new Pacific Northwest "Amsterdam" of liberal and progressive manners and styles, but nothing in reality could be further from the truth, Seattle as stern as any Scandinavian Lutheran minster blasting his congregationalists, shaking his finger on a chilly and rainy Sunday morning, reminding them that SIN is your daily thought and Satan's SULPHUROUS home will certainly be your final destination.  No further proof of that is required after Seattle's November announcement that more traffic cameras will soon be installed upon city streets, the City quite prepared to pilfer your pocketbook if not knock you in the head like they did in the good old "Police Days" when Seattle cops beat you up just because they could, and why not, because you requested the beating, didn't you?  For further reference, see "On the Take: From Petty Crooks to Presidents," by Bill Chambliss, Indiana University Press, 1978.

Yes, for decades, and now today in December 2021, Seattle remains that taunting, admonishing Lutheran cleric scolding its citizenry, penalizing you for simply being human, a crime it seems you only have yourself to blame, having affronted all commonsense by allowing yourself to be born, and worse, to walk and drive upon Seattle's sacred streets. For shame!---for the message that the City of Seattle is delivering, and has delivered over the years, is STOP! you are going to STOP! there being no alternative to this governmental injunction.  

And all of us will be stopping in traffic as Seattle has the second highest ratio of car ownership (461,000 cars) per population (724,305) in the United States, Long Beach, California holding the top spot.  With a 2021 Seattle metro population of 3,461,000, it means there are cars and trucks and motorcycles everywhere during a twenty-four day, and Seattle's response has been, and will be, is to keep removing invaluable traffic lanes, thus creating clogged and congested streets for everyone's driving pleasure.  And who is to blame?  Why we are, of course.  Who else?

On November 15th, 2021, Seattle announced it would be installing a total of 8 new traffic enforcement cameras, stating that it would no longer tolerate drivers blocking intersections and illegally utilizing bus only lanes.  While on the face of it, all this seems sensible until you instead consider two important components, the first being Seattle's longterm plan of both removing and narrowing lanes by changing 4-lane roads down to two, as they did to 12th Ave East and 12th Ave back in the early 1990s; and second, converting many lanes in the downtown core to transit/bus only; these kinds of decisions making a tight transportation corridor even tighter, subjecting drivers to the VERY conditions Seattle will now be issuing tickets for.  A further factor to all this are the many bicycle lanes added throughout the city, taking over lanes that were previously car only.  While it seems that wishful thinking is operational here, geographic and population density reality says otherwise, that all along, this focus upon lane reduction was, and remains, a very bad idea.  

And when did all of this kind of thinking begin, this campaign to slow and stop Seattle's drivers?  Back in the 1970s is when the placing of traffic circles on residential streets began, and to this day, at $30,000 each, traffic circles continue popping up everywhere like mushrooms upon a rainy Autumn day.   By 2017 Seattle had built 1,200 of them throughout the city, and how many more since I don't want to know.  

Where else can you find a huge tree growing in the middle of a street?  Nowhere I hope but a few other American cities are also following Seattle's lead in constructing these confounding and unnecessary monuments to municipal stupidity.  Anyway, please note that beginning January 1, 2022, enforcement begins with, first, a warning ticket, and then thereafter for eternity, a $75.00 ticket.  And please remember, when trying to dodge these tickets, GOD is waiting for you, pen in hand, waiting to cite you one more time. 

Where the new cameras are:   Aurora N & Galer---Westlake N & Valley/Roy---4th & Battery---

5th Ave & Olive Way---3rd & Stewart---1st & Columbia---3rd & James---4th & S Jackson

Happy driving but don't honk that horn.  In Seattle, it's illegal.  Ha ha the joke's on you!

The $102.00 Hopelink Ride

My last ride Monday was a good one, a $102.00 Hopelink ride from Seattle to Kent, taking a gentleman home from kidney dialysis.  This happens round-trip three times a week.  Add it all up for a year and Hopelink spends more-or-less $25,000 per year despite there being many kidney centers within 15 minutes of his house.  The ride one way takes from 60 to 90 minutes depending on traffic.  He has been doing this for 7 years.  Add in the fact of potential car accidents and exposure to COVID-19, one might think all this is a bad idea.  Hoeplink, how does this make any sense?

And oh, another example, Hopelink transporting a fellow to his methadone clinic at least 3 days a week, if not more, RT from Vashon Island to 1700 Airport Way South and back.  The cost?  $187.00 one way.  The ferry ride is fun but Hopelink, what the hell are you doing?  But Vashon is a fun place to visit.

And another aside.  Given he lives on the south side of the island, and near the ferry terminal to Tacoma, why isn't he going to a Tacoma clinic?   Strange to me.

All this Rain is making me Insane

19 inches recorded for Sept-Nov. The November reporting is just short of 11 inches of rain for the month.  Bring an umbrella!  Or turn into a duck.  Or fish.  Or otter. 

Nice to Tell Me That

While at my favorite shop getting 1092 worked upon, a longtime Yellow driver came and up said, "I know you.  You are a good guy.  You have a good heart," saying this while motioning with his hand to his heart. Good to know some have been following and paying attention to my many years taxi industry advocacy.  Thanks much!  Screw money, his words the very best kind of payment!  I am richer for it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Messy Life That Is Taxi & Seattle Is All Wet & Hopelink Clients Continue To Suffer & Best Airport Run Ever & Vaccine Mandates Squeeze Non-Vaccinated Cab Drivers & Fruit, No Vegetable Streets

 Too Many Hours, Not Enough Time

Taxi driving, as any cabbie will attest, is a stern master, demanding every second of your time and concentration.  Step away from your cab for a minute, and boom! you have missed a call and how much money you will never know, or truthfully, never wanting to know you missed a $600.00 plus trip across the Cascades by 25 seconds.  Given that reality, the cabbie sticks to it, because you never can tell what your next fare will be, or where that elusive bird, the Taxi Golden Goose, is laying its next jewel-encrusted egg.  

And the results from that crazed money chase is a room, house or apartment strewn with the remnants of a pressured life---you are a slob---certainly the verdict rendered by a social, nose-in-the-air snob, never caring to understand the impossibility of maintaining an orderly life impacted by ceaseless stress and worrisome discord.  As I will always say, welcome to taxi, or as Bob Dylan sang, welcome to "Desolation Row," and in this taxi chant---our own special version of a modern Hades flying down Eisenhower's freeways, gibberish sung at seventy miles per hour.  

36.89 inches of rain through yesterday 6:00 PM

That means the Seattle area has reached its annual rainfall nearly 40 days early, flooding down here every minor but up north of here, very major.  Hey, can we have some of this moisture in July, thank you very much!

quick PS 11/24/2021, 9:50 AM: rainfall now 37.39.  It keeps coming!

No Hopelink Rides for Dialysis Patients

Both late Saturday and Sunday nights I was belled in to kidney dialysis centers paying for their clients to get home, Hopelink failing again and again to provide the promised transportation.  This is no way to treat the vulnerable but there it is, and there it goes, in these examples---no where at all---the patients marooned in a Hopelink service provider swoon. A nurse issued an impassioned plea: where is Hopelink? 

Ya Never Know!

Yesterday early evening, belled into the Olympic Hotel, the guy jumps in and is going to Sea-Tac but first we have to go to Kent, Washington and the Kent-Kangley Road Safeway store.  Okay I say, guessing he is heading there for a coronavirus vaccination, and I was right, sitting there waiting with a near $100.00 on the meter upon his reentry back into the cab.  Off to Sea-Tac we go , ending with $135.00 on the meter, and $25.00 tip---$160.00 cash in my pocket.   Best, biggest cash value airport run I've had.  God! ya never know!

Most of the Yellow Accounts are now saying: Get Vaccinated

Pretty soon it will be all of them: no vaccination, no account fare.  It is going hurt all those drivers not getting the jab, as they call it, in the UK, another kind of death for the ever suffering cabbie. 

Orange Place North, East Cherry Street, South Plum Street

I looked it up.  No vegetable-named streets, and certainly no Kiwi, in Seattle.  Along with Peach Court, Orange, Cherry and Plum are the fruits you can drive upon.  Given this is Washington State, where do you find Apple Street?  In Puyallup and Bremerton, that's where.

An Important Book

"Dark Persuasion, A History of Brainwashing from Pavlov to Social Media" by Joel Dimsdale, Yale University Press, 2021.  I am reading it.  Important info and history.  I recommend it highly.  Do you remember the Hale-Bopp comet mass suicides? 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Another Local Area Cabbie Dead From COVID-19: "No One Will Tell Me What To Do!" & No Late Night Hopelink Coverage

He Doesn't Have to Worry About that Now

Doug was a Tacoma/Pierce County Yellow cabbie who, like all cabbies, was a natural iconoclast, resenting being told he needed to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.  Not him, Doug said, I'm not going to do it.  Well, about three weeks ago, Doug told a regular customer he wasn't feeling well, "just coming down with a cold," he said.  Two weeks later Doug was dead, having succumbed to COVID-19.  Where ever Doug is now or not, I can only hope there is no one up above or down below ordering him around because he won't like it, instead preferring to rest in peace, which I hope is Doug's fate---Taxi-Heaven minus any and all pushy customers and bossy people in general. 

No Hopelink Service for their Passengers late Night, early Morning

Late Sunday night, early Monday morning, I was in and out of the Northwest Hospital Emergency Room, trying to to serve passengers who were there or not, some disappearing into the night.  With each arrival, I noticed a young guy sitting next to the window, clearing waiting for a ride.  After being belled in for Bill, and no Bill to be found, the guy asked if I was "Hopelink."  No, I said, but since I was essentially done for the night, I said, "Com' on, I'll take you home for free," understanding there was no one coming for him.  How did I know that?

The simple answer is that, late night, early morning, there are no cabs whatsoever serving the Hopelink account.  Farwest, the only remaining somewhat functional cab association, shuts off its dispatch and goes to sleep, while Yellow isn't serving Hopelink rides between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM, and all day Sunday due to Hopelink's refusal to work with Yellow/PSD's Philippine-based callcenter.  The result is no service for perhaps hundreds of passengers during the late hours.  The passenger I rescued said he had perviously waited up to five hours for a Hopelink ride home.  

I have more than once alerted all those folks at Seattle and King County For-hire and Taxi licensing about this, and so far, nothing has changed, passengers like this young gentleman waiting, waiting into the long night.  And then, with the morning light, still no taxi in sight.

No taxi, no taxi, no taxi anywhere!

I am so angry I could pull out my hair!

Because no taxis here, no taxis there,

what is the problem, does anybody care?

Where is that taxi I am waiting for, the one

taking me home?

like antelopes and deer and bison upon the 

urban prairie,

Where do they roam?

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

City Of Seattle And King County In Taxi Slumberland & More Uber Financial Quarterly Losses & Reality Of NYC Taxi Post-Hunger Strike

Wake Up, Little Susie! (and apologies to Phil and Don)

I have to admit that it has taken this "bear of little brain" too long to fully understand why all those folks from Seattle and King County Taxi Licensing haven't heeded my laments concerning the never ending, poor taxi service offered to our long suffering customers.  The reason being?  They are asleep, and like Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle, have been for a very long time, decades it seems, soundly asleep at the regulatory wheel.  Even when seemingly awake, as when in the 1970s they deregulated the local industry, they were instead "asleep upon their feet," sleepwalking through the taxi day, and to put it into rhyme, boy, did they make the passengers pay!  

Maybe currently it might seem to all those now occupying the regulatory offices "that it is all a bad dream," and once totally awake they will, upon rubbing their eyes, say none of this can really be true but as someone totally awake to the nightmare that is day-to-day taxi, I can vouch that this is indeed reality, and pulling the blankets over your head not the proper response to elderly ladies waiting 3 whole hours for their cab's arrival.  While "Little Nemo in Sumberland," that comic strip from America's first 20th Century decade, is entertaining, Little Nemo DID finally wake up, questioning his nighttime reality---it isn't at all helpful that the City of Seattle and King County remain curled in a sung ball, oblivious to the taxi reality blaring outside their office doors.  

So my request is simple: Guys, will you please wake up, get out of bed and do something about the daily chaos that is Seattle and King County taxi.  Brew some strong coffee and drink it down, alerting yourself to the awake responsibility you hold: to ensure that everyone who requests a cab in Seattle and King County gets one in a timely way.  That's it.  It is that basic. 

And if nothing changes, I know why.  You are asleep, and talking out loud not proving otherwise, shouts into the dark the least effective of communications, hollow verbal emanations trailing into the vacuous night. 

Uber Loses $2.4 Billion Dollars in most recent Quarterly Report

Uber has more excuses for why it continues to lose money than the average porcupine has quills, this time due to its investment in the Chinese version of Uber--Didi.  But never fear, Uber says, because it had a total quarterly revenue of $4.8 billion, a 72% increase from one year ago.  If not for the Didi financial hit, that $4.8 billion would have been Uber's first profitable quarter EVER.  An article in the London Sunday Times expressed how upset UK Uber riders have become, given ever longer waits and higher rates. The article said many have doubts that Uber will survive.  

But don't ask Uber anything like that.  They could be on verge of closing but they wouldn't tell you, instead saying everything is great and we will see you tomorrow when they won't.  A very questionable development is the talk of Uber dispatching NYC cabs.  Bad idea to join forces with the very enemy holding a knife to your jugular vein.  Unwise!

New York City Cab Owner Reality

Before you uncork the wine bottle and celebrate that the average NYC cabbie has won a huge victory from NYC government and its allied medallion financial companies, you have to have some understanding of the monthly expenses of running and owning a cab.  I know because I own one and know what it means to be under the pressure of weekly and monthly expenses that don't go away unless you quit the business or die.  

The recent settlement says that, for starters, the NYC cabbie will be paying $1,100 per month on his/her medallion mortgage.  If they drive everyday in a 30 day month, and drive a Prius, let's call it $30.00 per day for gasoline, making it $900. every month alone for the gas.  Insurance  costs varies but I will estimate $600.00 per month, adding up to $7,200 for the year.  As there are licensing fees, etc, I will throw in another $150.00 per month, which I think is lowballing it.  

Quickly adding it all up, the NYC cabbie must first make $2,750. before he/she starts to see a penny of profit in any given month.  Yes, I see the NYC cabbie making that in a hard working one week, or 1 1/2 weeks but that might be overly optimistic, meaning it might take the cabbie a full two weeks to earn that $2,750., and that's working more or less day and night, 12-16 hours week after week.  And what about the cost of living in NYC?  The rents, etc.  Lord, you don't have mercy!

Pretty horrible, you say?  Modern slavery, you say?  Ya got that right, Bub!, ya got it right!  Welcome to taxi-land, home to the woebegone and depressed, their reality my reality. 

No fun, I'm on the run!  And tired as hell!

Sorry to Report

Peter Steinbrueck, the taxi driver friendly candidate for Port of Seattle Commission, Position 4, lost.  Not by much but he lost.  The one thing that certainly needs to happen at Sea-Tac is a reduction in the per-trip fee the driver pays with each outgoing fare.  If I remember correctly, the gate fee is $7.00.  And if the cabbie waits two hours and only gets a $10.00 fare, it is a wasted two hours.  Something must change if fairness and wage equity is the goal.  The current system is pure punishment, plain and simple.  There is no other way to see it, the BIG Port of Seattle taking advantage of the small business operator. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Some Local Election Results & The Saga of Non-Existent Kiwi Avenue & Crazed Passengers Tumbling Out Of The Cab & NYC Cabbies Still On Their Hunger Strike

 Bruce Harrell will be Seattle's Next Fill-in-the-Blank Chief (Excuse me, I meant Mayor)

I expected Harrell to win big against M. Lorena Gonzalez, with early results showing just that, trouncing her by a 65% to 35% margin, meaning it is now preordained that Harrell wins out, taking over for the embattled incumbent mayor, Jenny Durkan clearly deciding four years of slander and abuse more than enough, departing while preparing for the future legal battles awaiting her post-administration.  Would Durkan categorize, you think, her past four years as a "new Summer of Love" as she famously surmised when part of Seattle's Capital Hill was occupied by "George Floyd" protesters?   

I doubt it but with Seattle legion of of poor and ineffectual politicians, you never know.  Gonzalez, in an election night comment, said she wanted "every vote to be counted," as if that was ever an issue, which of course it isn't, sounding more like a Trump-style Republican that the liberal Democrat she claims to be.  Watch out for the "shape-changing" politician, instantly becoming something new and altered, a new color or shade of political chameleon, their old beliefs suddenly invisible to the inquiring public. 

As for the Port of Seattle Commission race, Position Number 4, early results had Peter Steinbrueck leading Hasegawa with less than 25% of the tabulated vote, the race at this point too close to call, with the final result probably not known until tomorrow or later.  He was leading by one percentage point but as of 5:31 PM Wednesday night, Hasegawa had taken a 275 vote lead.  When people say that your vote doesn't count or mean anything, they not only don't know what they are talking about, they are completely wrong.

In terms of Harrell, I will be reminding him of how he shafted the taxi industry back in 2014, and whether he will be making quick amends for his past evil deeds?   I will keep you posted as to his response, if any, comes my way.  Maybe I am being too hard upon the fellow but I will never forget how he stood next to Sally Bagwell, and smiled, saying he was voting to toss out the Seattle City Council's bill regulating and capping Uber and Lyft, there being no forgiving nor forgetting for his political crime, executing the local taxi industry with a big grin.  How amusing he wasn't that day nor this day, for that matter. 

There is No Kiwi Avenue in Seattle, Washington, I Swear it Upon a Stack of Thomas Guides 

On the night the King County Licensing official rode with me, we picked up a passenger in lower Queen Anne on his way to a Capital Hill address at the intersection, he said, of Pike and Kiwi, his destination turning out to be one of the few remaining gay bathhouses in Seattle, Club Z.  When I questioned the existence of a Kiwi street or avenue, the now superior passenger said, "I will bet the cost of the fare that Kiwi does exist."  Normally I would take up such a bet but there was something odd about his confidence, laying claim to an area I have known since 1973.  Describing it, I realized he was talking about an angle, block-long street running northwest from Pike to Pine, a street I have been on countless times.  And besides, I found the guy supercilious and insulting, and rather glad to have the irritant out of the cab.  But what was he talking about, because that angle street turned out to be Minor Avenue, and there were no signs anywhere naming or indicating Kiwi as an addressed street. 

If you google Kiwi in Seattle, you get a map showing the neighborhood but nothing that labelled the real and actual location.  My suspicion is that Kiwi is an unnamed alleyway running northwest from Union to Pike adjacent to Club Z.  Is Kiwi a local nickname sanctioned by the local Gay Community, a kind of "inside joke" given all the "fruits" (derogatory slang for homosexual men) entering Club Z?   

I don't know but there is a Kiwi Street in San Diego, California.  Kiwi Acres Lanes exists near Coupeville, Washington.  There is a listing for a "Kiwi" at 1102 24th Avenue South near Judkins Skate Park.  There is the "Kangaroo & Kiwi" Pub is Ballard. But for the "Kiwi" mentioned so boldly by the customer, it remains a mystery to me.  The only fruit-named street I know of in Seattle for sure is "Peach Court (East)" on the north side of Capital Hill, parallel to 22nd Avenue East.  And the old reliable "Thomas Guide" map book does not list Kiwi in its King County index,  and if Thomas says it doesn't exist, it damn well doesn't.  I really disliked that customer's attitude.  A true ass but isn't that insulting the noble donkey? 

Sarah and Peter

They were only going a few blocks, to City Market but memorable they were as Sarah instantly began sobbing "I lost my cellphone, all my numbers!" through the tears, which suddenly became "You stole my cellphone!" with Sarah now pushing and pulling on Peter, "Sarah! Stop!" but there was no stopping her, Peter now pressed against the right side passenger door, Sarah banging on him.

Having parked, I opened their door and there went Sarah and Peter tumbling to the asphalt, along with multiple cell phones flying out of their pockets, Sarah screaming at Peter "You have my cell phone, you have my cell phone!" all the while pulling on him, pulling his pants down as Peter shouted, "Sarah, let go of me!" Peter finally freeing himself and walking away, Sarah now sprawled on the pavement crying and screaming.  Startled by the commotion, people came to her assistance, getting her up to her feet, allowing me to pull away without running her over.  Ain't life grand in the nearly big city?  And no, I didn't get my five dollar fare.  Oh well. 

NYC Cabbie Hunger Strike Continues

The hunger strike is now nearly two weeks old and the New York mayor Bill de Blasio is letting them starve, refusing to budge from the City's original offer.  The strikers are gaining more outside support but will it be enough to prevent the death of the strikers?  During the 2020 election season Mister de Blasio said he wanted to be president of the United States.  For what reason is the question?

Important Update 11/04021 9:29 AM:  Hunger Strike Ends with New Agreement

Late yesterday, an agreement was reached, ending the 15 day-long labor action, limiting the total medallion mortgage owed to $170,000, with a monthly payment of $1,122.  More precise details next week but it's important to note that this is an initial agreement with only one of the medallion financial loan companies, Marblegate.  While assuming the other "taxi banks" will also agree to this arrangement, in the wild world that is New York City, anything might happen, the fact that this overvaluation happened in the first place says everything about NYC politics and their relationships with "big time" investors, the big fish eating the small fish.  Google photos of the late NYC "Taxi King" and you will see him elbow to elbow with Bloomberg, de Blasio and others.  Where is the political morality?  Right down the gutter is where it is. 

 A Reader asked about Seattle medallion values

They may not even be worth a thousand dollars.  I believe the City of Seattle has a number of returned medallions minus ownership.  You might ask if they would give you one.  It is in their interest to have more cabs upon the road. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Election Special November 2nd, 2021: Peter Steinbrueck Our Port Of Seattle Ally And Tweedle-Dee/Tweedle-Dum For Mayor? & Will Someone From Puget Sound Dispatch (Seattle Yellow Cab) Please Fly To The Philippines? & New York City's Infamous "Taxi King" Is Dead

OMG! It's Seattle Election Season Again!

Elections are important even though many pretend otherwise, and while it probably doesn't matter who is elected the new Seattle mayor, given that zero plus zero always equaling zero, Port of Seattle Commission Position Number 4 is of especial importance given Stienbrueck's vocal and written support for the downtrodden cabbies working Sea-Tac International Airport.  Oppositely, his opponent, Toshiko Grace Hasegawa's chief policy agenda and focus is instead one of blame, pointing fingers at Steinbrueck and the entire sitting Port Commission for not anticipating container traffic flow issues, somehow forgetting that it is a problem shared by every shipping port worldwide since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.  A vote for Hasegawa is a vote for an Upper-Middle Class theorist who, minus any real governing experience, knows she can do better than anyone else.  

And why does she believe this?  Because, in her mind, she is an anointed, special, superior "god-yes" appointed savior of everything in the world, the Port of Seattle just one more small step toward her predestined celestial seat upon Mount Olympus, shoving Hera aside and taking her rightful throne next to Zeus Almighty.  If you don't support that, then vote for Peter Steinbrueck, negating Hasegawa's righteous thunderbolts crashing upon everyone's heads, divine punishment for the unworthy, and should I say it, the unwashed. 

Mix and Match, Harrell and Gonzalez Both the Same---Two Stumblebums Minus a Moral Brain

Lewis Carroll would like this mayoral battle, hence the Alice reference, two Pin-the Tail-Upon-the Donkey candidates hoping to poke Seattle's collective buttock into believing that "I, not you, Me" can work new miracles upon Seattle's governmental fabric, weaving new magical garments for all its citizens, everyone flying away to a new Never-Never Land where junkies will never again break your car window and Seattle drivers will eternally foreswear never to road-rage again down local avenues and byways, everyone suddenly having a snug and safe home, Bruce Harrell doing his best Xi Jinping imitation while M. Lorena Gonzalez shouts, "Look at Me, I'm Hillary Rodham Clinton!"

If I did't know already, I know why I am now registered to vote way down in southwest New Mexico's Grant County where rattlesnakes bite only when confusing right from wrong, which isn't very often. 

Would Someone Please Fly Across the Blue Pacific and Teach These Folks Their Taxi ABC's?

Look, I know the Cebu-based call-center is attempting, given their limited knowledge, to do their best dispatching a taxi fleet 8,000 miles away but it is clear they are not yet ready for graduation, prematurely issued their taxi diplomas.  Taxi is a language and they don't speak it.  Taxi is a science and they don't know how to boil water.  Taxi is a skilled profession and dispatch is still leaning how to tie its shoes.  Passengers call and ask, "how long will it be?" and Cebu guesses, "well , we really don't know, does 40 minutes sound okay to you?"  And then the cab arrives in five minutes, it's "where did you come from?'  

Twenty minutes to midnight last Sunday, three Zone 160 (Magnolia) fares suddenly popped up on the screen, no warning, no info, and what was it? it was a late docking Alaskan fishing vessel unloading a crew eager to get home.  But dispatch didn't name the boat then floating dockside at Pier 91, not knowing you need to tell security where you are going, because most often there are 4-6 ships all simultaneously disembarking their crews.  I went to Bremerton, which was wonderful, but not so wonderful is the never-ending amateur hour that is pretending to be a professional taxi dispatch call-center.  That is why someone from Puget Sound Dispatch needs to travel to the Philippines and provide the necessary instruction required.  Their lack of taxi literacy is needlessly punishing our passengers, diminishing customer service.  And all I am saying and have been saying over the past weeks and months is true and accurate.  And PSD knows it as well as I do, you can bet on it.

And as I keep telling all those City and County licensing officials, it is really all your fault, allowing the associations to do anything they want minus real accountability.  As the silly saying goes, "when the cat is away, the mice will play," and this has been occurring for decades, long before Yellow dispatch was transferred overseas, also explaining why it was so easy for Uber to push taxi into the financial ditch back in 2014.  We should require professionalism from everyone involved----dispatch, PSD administration, owner operators, City & County taxi licensing--- getting our taxi house in order before 2022 arrives.  So don't get mad at me, your anger misplaced.  Instead, facilitate change now, everyone, now!  Let us be completely honest.  Let us be real.  Our customers deserve better.  Can there be any argument? 

 NYC "Taxi King" Dead at Age 50

Gene Freidman (Evgeny Alender Freidman) died on Sunday, October 24th, 2021, from a heart attack, a former New York City taxi baron who ruled the taxi roost until the 2014 Uber revolution toppled taxi from atop the transportation monopoly that controlled most of NYC's then for-hire industry, medallion prices (valuations) falling by 80%.  Before that, beginning in 1996, at age 26, Freidman took over his father's taxi garage handling 60 cabs, expanding that to 900 cabs, with him personally owning 250 medallions.  What got him extremely rich was his 2006 scheme to manipulate medallions value by overpaying for 54 medallions offered by the City of New York that year, paying $477,666 for each of the 54 medallions, helping create an inflationary price escalation that eventually had the over 13, 587 taxi medallions worth a startling 1.3 million dollars each.  Freidman's initial purchases was facilitated by the Progressive Credit Union, who was more than glad to assist in something that would make everyone involved extremely wealthy.  At one point, Freidman held $525 million in assets, owning a 4000 square foot Park Avenue townhouse, a country estate in Bridgehampton, New York, two villas on the French Rivera while driving around NYC in a $400,000 Ferrari, no taxi cab for him. 

A quote from the Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 NY Times obituary written by Sam Roberts says everything about about Mister Freidman, "I'd go to an auction, I'd run up the price of a medallion, then I'd run to my bankers and say, "Look how high the medallions priced!  Let me borrow against my portfolio. And they let me do that!"

But Freidman wasn't content only doing that, in 2017 finding himself charged with first degree taxi fraud for his failure to forward the 50 cents surcharge required on each taxi trip that is allocated to the MTA, bilking that New York transit agency out of $5,000,000 dollars.  He was granted probation after ratting on his famous medallion business partner, Michael Cohen, he of President Trump fame.

While saying he was a broken man, his continued privileged lifestyle said otherwise, Freidman accused of transferring over $60 million dollars in trust accounts located in Belize, Nevis and the Cook Islands. I am sure he will be buried beneath a nice tombstone, a grave perhaps to be visited by the many now impoverished cabbies who believed that a medallion was indeed worth over a million dollars,  stomping upon the taxi thief's final resting place.  At least I hope they do, pouring the brightest of bright red animal blood over his headstone, blood on his hands, blood forever now staining his head and soul.


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

A Saturday Night Ride Escorted By King County Taxi Official: Beneficial Receiving The Inside Story & New York City Cab Driver Hunger Strike Begins October 20th, 2021

 Local government indifference to the taxi industry was shattered Saturday night when a King County taxi (for-hire) licensing official came along for an over five-hour long ride-along.  Jumping in about 7:00 PM, he endured the terrible passenger-side front seat until past midnight, telling him I was just getting revenge for all the abusive years we have faced from the City of Seattle and King County, though the truth being told, 1092 has travelled over 450,000 miles, meaning nothing could be in perfect condition after that many rough and tumble miles.  My goal was to provide a completely unvarnished view of real taxi, real Seattle taxi as I know and hate it, and those five hours provided a fair representation of what I and my taxi colleagues experience and suffer through, displaying through the misery the good money made and professional customer service offered and completed.  

Only two bells (fares) in, he said he saw my values at work, first turning down two passengers at Husky Stadium to faithfully check out the bell at University Hospital, and after finding no one there, rushing back and picking up the same couple standing out on the west side of Montlake Boulevard.  After dropping them off, and back to the stadium we picked up two more guys, taking them to a downtown hotel, with one handing me a twenty and a hundred dollar bill for a $16.00 ride, but quickly making him aware of his error, as this kind of mistake commonplace in the rush to vacate the cab.  Those interactions prompted his observation of who I am, which led me to recount my CO (1-0) exemption Selective Service story and how the trust granted me by my Eastern Colorado draft board way back in November 1972 remains alive and active in my now 67 year old heart, something also explaining my lifetime activism and advocacy for those not getting a fair-shake from life's circumstances. 

The night moved quickly, fare after fare machine-gun style rat-a-tat-tat, as we went to and from the stadium and downtown again and again, 1092 the only visible cab working a 70,000 plus stadium crowd, seeing only one other cab, and that was after the game was long over.  He in turn kept my interest by relating his most recent effort toward creating a standard to mesh with a consortium of dispatch companies, including MTI, that nationally would link all local cab companies to a international, worldwide public transportation network.  It is quite an endeavor, something favored since noticing that cabs have been previously excluded, suggesting perhaps a kind of widespread bias against taxi both here in Seattle and elsewhere.  He said, that until about two years ago, the City of Seattle expressed some reticence concerning our local industry, taking some persuasion getting them to the negotiating table.  Is anyone surprised by this news?  I am not.  But given our sometimes history, minor criminality spicing our taxi stew, it isn't all surprising that we have, upon occasion, been colored black, or darker shades of grey---the demon's heart not red but Yellow.

One story getting my attention was how quickly, back in 2014, did King County have to adapt to the flood of TNC (Uber, Lyft) licensees unleashed by the Seattle City Council and Mayor Murray, Seattle not caring how prepared King County was, or not, to successfully license all these new for-hire drivers.  My ears perked-up because I have never trusted the process that poured over 28,000 new TNC operators into our work and business environment, and here I was, receiving confirmation that something "smelled bad," and I have been holding my nose ever since the debacle that was 2014.   Anyway, it certainly wasn't his fault, and over the past couple of years it has been clear to me that this official is different, someone not taking kindly to all us cabbies being stepped on.  Hurray for that.

For my part, I was able to show him how inefficient the Philippines dispatch/call center can be, those faraway folks having little clue how to dispatch during a big event like the Husky football game, further underlining my point that, too often, the passengers either wait too long, or occurring too often, receiving no cab at all.  I also repeated my mantra that the local taxi associations require more, not less, regulation.  At this point, neither Seattle nor King County hold much jurisdiction over association behavior, and as I kept telling him, I hope that change comes soon but don't your breath as you are tempting self-affixation---suffocation at the hands of bureaucratic entanglement and red tape . 

He even saw me get tried, making a simple run from downtown to White Center more complicated than it needed to be.  Our time together ended after picking up a passenger from the University Medical Center ER, an ex-Lyft driver from the State of Massachusetts going up to N. 120th & Roosevelt N.  After that, back to the Northgate Park & Ride, where I shook hands with the "gentleman and taxi scholar" and said goodbye, glad the insight travelled in both directions, east and west, up and down.

Followup to My Recent NYC Cabbie Feature

Tomorrow, upon a full moon, dozens of NYC taxi medallion owners will be going upon a hunger strike in a desperate effort to get substantial debt relief from the City of New York, that very same government entity who lied to them about the financial glories attached to medallion ownership.  This effort is led by the NYC Taxi Drivers Alliance, guided by its president, Bhairavi Desai.  

Earlier this year, New York government offered a total debt relief package worth over 65 million dollars, with individuals receiving up to $29,000 in compensation and up to $200,000 in debt forgiveness but the majority of the cabbies owe $400,00 to 800,000 or more to the medallion banks.  This is why they are willing to starve themselves because they are already going hungry, facing the daily prospect of working long hours only to pay the interest on their loans.  They are already dying so why not formalize the process, is their thinking. 

Good luck!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Vaccination Mandate For Seattle Yellow Taxicab Drivers & New Hopelink Computer Software Issues & Almost Time To Welcome Back Our Canadian Brethren & When The Cabbie Can't Do Anything Correctly

A New Directive from Puget Sound Dispatch (Yellow Cab): Be Vaccinated by October 15th

Yes, that is the message sent to all of us drivers.  By October 15th, 2021, you must show proof that you have received one of the three COVID-19 vaccines (I have the Johnson & Johnson) or you are bounced off all account fares.  Last week, you might recall, I recommended that all Yellow cabbies transporting COVID-19 positive passengers be previously vaccinated, removing the potential danger faced by non-vaccinated drivers.   This directive takes that one step further by applying this limitation to all variety of account fares, stating that if you are not vaccinated, you will no longer be eligible to serve account-based customers.  My only disagreement is the obvious elimination of free choice; instead, thinking an option of applying for religious and medical exemptions be made available, something appearing to be acceptable both societal and nationwide but evidently, not at PSD.   Other than the date, where everywhere else the deadline is October 18th, I agree that for everyone's safety, you should receive a coronavirus vaccination of your choice unless you qualify for an exemption.  The one positive for our customers will be that non-account passengers will receive a quicker pick-up.  The negative, unfortunately, with fewer qualified drivers available, this new mandate will translate into slower pick-up rates for our account customers.  Guess you can't have everything, and in this case, you certainly won't.  

But to be clear, backing PSD's overall stance are the latest COVID-19 statistics, grim as they are stark.  Current USA total cases are 44,681 million. Total American deaths are now 719,000 out of a total October 13, 2021 USA population of 333,484,850.  Total State of Washington cases stand at 689,484, with 8,152 dead.  King County total cases currently are at 156, 822, with 1,905 confirmed deaths.  All this says that if you are working with the public as we cabbies are, it makes complete sense to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Currently, the national daily death toll is just under 2000.   

Hopelink Software Ills

From all reports, Hopelink's transition to new dispatching software has both account passengers and PSD psychically tearing out their hair, as addressing and scheduling issues have plagued the new system for about the last three weeks.  One example is the new software program insisting that the address for Kasier Permanente (old Group Health) is 125 16th Avenue instead of the actual 125 16th Avenue East.  For those unfamiliar with Seattle streets, the incorrect address places the hospital over a mile away from its actual and real location.  On Tuesday I got a screwed up Hopelink call that had the passenger located almost 2 miles from where he was actually waiting, Harborview Hospital, on First Hill, when I was in Zone 180, the "Westlake."   This kind of mistake is making few people happy but given Hopelink's cavalier history of taking no responsibility for anything, will they now admit there is a problem here of their own making?  Stay tuned.

Biden Says to Canada, "Com' on in!"

Finally, beginning sometime early November, our Northern neighbors will be allowed entry into the USA upon proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.  This new order also applies to our friends residing in sunny Mexico.  The only catch for Mexican citizens is that most of them have been vaccinated with non-WHO approved vaccines, primarily Russia's Sputnik V and China's CanSino vaccine but those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine are considered to be fully vaccinated and fully eligible for entry.  The State of Washington will be glad to have all those crazy Canucks back, attending Seahawk games and of course, riding in Yellow Cabs.  One important suggestion for my fellow cabbies is, like me, obtain a USA passport card just in case you find a Canadian needing to get back up to the Far North.   Fares to Vancouver do happen.  I got one way back in 1989 upon a Christmas Eve night.   A good trip to be sure. 

Warning to All Cabbies: Displaying Any Emotion is a Cardinal Sin

I had the oddest interaction on Monday when belled in to pick up a passenger at a local hospital, something I have done thousands of times.  This time the elderly woman was escorted by a nursing assistant, whom I immediately noticed, appeared to be in some kind of dazed state of mind.  Taking charge, I got the passenger to the curb and out of the wheelchair and to the cab. While doing this, she handed me two purses. I placed them on the back seat, and while helping her into the cab, one fell over, the contents emptying onto the rear floorboard.  This is when I noticed that the NA had fixed me with a "hard" stare.  Odd but there you have it.  

Once having the passenger partway in the cab, she said she couldn't straighten her leg, something very common with older folks getting into the cab. Turning around, there was that same fixed stare, prompting me to say, "Here, you do this," that is, assist the lady into the cab.  In almost every similar circumstance, that what the escort does but this time around he asks the passenger if she still wants to ride with me.  She then says no, along with questioning, "Are you drunk?"  Have you been smoking (marijuana)?"  Assisting her up, I notice that the NA is just standing there, prompting me to maneuver the wheelchair so she can sit down.   And what does he do?  He leans into the cab to see if anything remained on the floorboard, this after I had clearly put everything back in place.      

What this kind of situation tells me is something I already know, that a cabbie's credibility is instantly questioned, and worse, your behavior criminalized, you are now drunk, stoned and who knows what else. God help me and all other cabbies if we take offense concerning odd or strange or inappropriate behavior directed our way, somehow everyone quickly embracing the validity of caste, with the cabbie now the untouchable, the godless dalit.  And all I was doing was assisting the woman into the cab.  Should she instead of been placed in a wheelchair van?  Perhaps but first a real attempt should have been made instead of making the woman wait once again for transport home.  Sunday night, a passenger at the same hospital waited 2 hours before I turned up.  It is not good nor fair to make these elderly customers wait and wait for the cab.  It's not appropriate, it's not moral.

The Only Thing Keeping Me Alive

As I am getting too old (age 67) for this taxi nonsense, I am finding the only remedy keeping me going are epsom/mineral salt baths, sometimes taking one in the morning and one at night, the evening bath often induing sleep.  Am I afraid of drowning?  No, more than happy to drift away embraced by fragrant hot water.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

NYC Cabbie Medallion Crisis & INNOVIZ Technologies---Full Page NY Times Ad & City Of Seattle Towing Away The Poor & PSD Driver Behavior Review Committee & No, I Don't Want to Be Yellow's General Manager

Too Much Owed by NYC Cabbies

Once again, the fiasco that is the overvaluation of New York City's taxi medallions is in the news, as a new effort to undo the damage done by New York City government and medallion financial loan companies takes hold, with a proposal stating that all of the outstanding, egregious loans be reduced to an "across the board figure" of $145,000 per medallion.  Even that sounds like too much but when you understand that medallion values were artificially inflated by up to over one million dollars per medallion, it was simple economics leading to the many loan defaults across NYC's taxi community.  Many owners have outstanding debt loads of $500-800 thousand dollars, with loan payments of over $4000.00 per month.  This of course is unsustainable for anyone.  And all of this is made worse by the reality that the NYC government promoted it, making impossible promises of great riches to immigrant drivers new to America, not thinking that they would be lied to in the great, old USA but misled they were, and now they are in dire straits, with little option save death, something a number of drivers have decided upon, killing themselves.  One can only hope that this new effort to reduce the debt burden will succeed, and as the pandemic ends, NYC's taxi industry will see a new and robust revival.  Here in Seattle, medallion value once reached $245,000 but as I told everyone, that was pure fantasy.  What are they worth today?  One thousand dollars.  Maybe.

Big NY Times Ad by Israeli LiDAR Company

On the back page of the NY Times Business section, Friday, October 1st, 2021 paper edition, is a full page ad populated by NYC's famous Yellow Cabs, something grabbing my attention and curiosity, making me wonder, who the heck is INNOVIZ Technologies and why are they spending big money for this advertisement?  The text is as follows:

                                                                     Human error

                                                                     causes over

                                                                      20 million

                                                                     car accidents

                                                                       each year.

                                                                       And you're

                                                                     worried about

                                                                        cars driving


            Innoviz's LiDAR Technology see sthe world in ways humans simply can't.

                                  Check out $INVZ on the Nasdaq or

                                    INNOVIZ TECHNOLOGIES        Autonomous driving

                                                                                            is safer driving

I'll let you imagine all those Yellow Cabs whizzing down Manhattan's streets.  LiDAR stands for "light detecting and ranging," which is some kind of laser technology.  INNOVIZ, a small company based in Israel, is trying to drum up investor money. They have 320 employees.  The have one big time customer, having joined BMW with developing its BMWiNext Series.  What do I think about all of this?  Teach people how to really drive a car, education the key, not handing out driving licenses to the unprepared. 

She Was So Upset

A last fare yesterday was this poor, older African-American woman who had her car towed away by the City of Seattle.  Why?  Something to do with her license plate.  Now it was going to cost her $300.00 to rescue her car from Lincoln Towing at 122nd & Aurora North.  When the meter hit $10.00, I told her that was enough, and she began crying, my very human gesture recognizing her distress causing tears, she thanking me.  If you don't think systemic racism doesn't exist, dye your skin black and get back to me after one month.  That should do it.  

Bad Cabbie Review Committee

Yellow Cab/Puget Sound Dispatch has expressed interest in my idea of bringing misbehaving cabbies before a hearing conducted by their peers.  We are just entering the planning stages.  I think this can be a much better answer than firing drivers even though they might deserve it.  Let's give them the opportunity to reform and see what happens.  I think, after listening to reason, a driver's behavior will change, transforming the guy into a new and improved cabbie.  It is worth the effort because a good cabbie is a critical human asset not to be wasted or thrown away but someone to be valued and retained.  

Too Late for Me

I had to laugh out loud when a leading member of the local Sikh community said that my name had been mentioned as someone they would like to see  running Yellow, replacing the current General Manager.  I laughed, saying I am trying to get out of taxi, not deeper to where there is no escape.  At one point, yes, I would have been interested but now, no way, no way.  And besides, I said, David Friend doesn't like me, my operating style abhorrent to him and others. As I keep yelling silently, "LET ME OUT OF THIS INSANE ASLYUM!"  And that's how I really feel. Enough already. 






Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Transporting COVID-19 Positive Passengers In The Taxi & Progressive Insurance Dispute Resolved & Bakersfield Update & Shake Your Flabby Booty? Insane Antics On Aurora Avenue North & Passenger Expectations & A Bakersfield Portrait In Rhyme

 Last Week I Transported A Coronavirus Passenger to Goldbar, WA

My most recent COVID-19 tested-positive passenger originated from Kirkland's Evergreen Hospital, a medical facility I haven't picked up at in at least ten years or longer, rarely finding myself anywhere close to Zone 411 (Totem Lake), it not making much sense battling the usual heavy traffic on I-405 to get there.  That day I just happened to drop off a regular customer of mine at her dental appointment, and since the offered call was .02 miles away, I accepted it but not knowing it was yet another coronavirus-infected passenger, this lady making my sixth such variety of customer.  

Given I am vaccinated, and double-masking both me and the passenger, while also properly ventilating the cab, I feel I am taking a very minimal risk, if any risk at all, providing rides to those who really need to get home or to a quarantine shelter.  What makes the quarantine passengers so inviting is the extra $50.00 King County adds to the fare, something designed to calm the soul and soothe the anxious brow.  

But in this case, as with accounts other than the King County one, there was no such added surcharge bonus.  I have asked Yellow/Puget Sound Dispatch to explore the possibility of our other major account customers also providing a "risk fee" when requesting transport of COVID-19 patients, a kind of monetary acknowledgement and thank you.  And it does remain a potential risk for many of the drivers because this kind of fare is offered to our entire pool of drivers minus warning or notice, PSD not restricting the fares to vaccinated drivers only, something I have suggested more than once.  

To me, the liability issue for PSD is immense, because, if in theory a driver does get infected while transporting a virus positive customer, and dies, or perhaps worse, spreads the virus to a family member, with that person succumbing to the virus, I think it would be hard to defend PSD's current policy.  And to that point, it would be very wise to limit these kinds of fares only to fully vaccinated drivers, thus avoiding the needless hazard of endangering everyone involved.  

As to my Goldbar customer, she, like two others I have given rides to, was in denial that she was virus positive, saying she was only dealing with kidney stones and nothing else.  The ride out on Highway 2 was very pretty and enjoyable save for some heavy eastbound traffic near Sultan.  Being in Sultan brought back many memories, as I once lived there for a few months back in 1973 with my cat Sniffer, having then only recently turned 19 years old, and was at that point attempting to understand just what the hell I was doing.  The house was maybe a hundred feet from the railroad tracks, and I always appreciated that Sniffer was wiser than me, staying clear of those many rumbling trains passing by.   Only a young fool would move next to an active railroad.  That Sniffer and I could sleep through all that clatter was a gift of nature, thank goodness we were able to ignore the penetrating roar. 

Progressive Says I am not Culpable

This morning I got an email from a Progressive Insurance senior supervisor informing me that I hold zero responsibility for the recent accident I have been dealing with over the past few weeks.  It was a very friendly letter and I responded in kind, only interested in my declared innocence and vindication and little else.  But since the issue of damage was brought up, I will be getting an auto body repair estimate on the wound inflicted upon 1092.  That Crown Victoria is one tough car, lots of steel making it more impervious to damage than other cars.  

My personal car, my wonderful 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, would have been demolished in a similar collision but "Taco" does contain 10 airbags, hopefully pillowing the passengers from serious injury.  Thank you Progressive, for your conclusion, and if there is a next time, I will not delay in writing up an accident report and creating an accident diagram, being busy no excuse for not doing what is obviously necessary. 

Sad News Concerning my Sister JoAnn

I am very glad I was able to visit my sister over that recent six-day span as JoAnn passed away yesterday afternoon at 12:12 PM in Bakersfield, two Stage-Four tumors taking her away less than two months after her initial diagnosis.  She was 76, and born in 1945, the second of four children.  JoAnn was responsible for my first car driving experience, when in 1967, when I was age 12, she insisted I get behind the wheel of her beautiful 1955 Ford and drive down the road.  Scared, I made it a total of one block before putting the car in park and leaping out of the driver's seat.  Later that year, "dear old Dad" made me learn how to drive, this time in our 1952 Dodge Cornet.  RIP JoAnn! and thank you for taking me to the movies in Denver  1962-64 and buying me all those one dollar Woolworth's pizza slices. Who ever knew Elvis Presley was a boxer?  Or that Vincent Price would introduce me to Edgar Allen Poe?

Some Local Seattle TV Station Needs to Take Live Footage of the Ongoing Madness

I couldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself, last week seeing this prostitute wearing nothing covering her buttock, turning to the ongoing traffic and "shake, shake, shaking" her butt for all the world to ogle, a kind of "live-in-your face" advertisement for what you too can enjoy if only you would hire her for your personal pleasure.  Not that her buttock was in any way worth viewing but there it was in living color, whether wanting to see it or not.  

The situation on Aurora Ave North is getting fairly wild, with new hookers taking over for previous sex workers, new troops for the sexual trenches.  Does this make any sense?  Where are the Seattle Police?  Where are the King County Sheriffs?  This is nuts!  Shall we start calling Seattle the "New Amsterdam," and even there, in ribald Holland, these kinds of antics aren't happening.  Will it ever stop?

Passenger Expectations 

The passenger complained when I showed up a mere nine minutes late for her scheduled time call taking her to Sea-Tac International Airport and her flight aboard British Airways winging her to France.  As I told her, nine minutes late ain't nothing these days but here is the problem.  Customers are calling Seattle Yellow Cab all hours of the day and night with the old expectation that we are a fully operational twenty-four company, and when they find out the opposite, they complain.  Why do I have to be the one to tell them that we have been crippled, handicapped by a series of events over the past 7-8 years that were and are completely out of our control?  Did this particular passenger understand my explanation?  Maybe because she gave me a nearly $10.00. tip.  I liked that.

Bakersfield in Rhyme 

Merle Haggard and Buck Owens waving hello from the grave, while static filled AM fundamentalist Christian radio warns don't become Satan's slave,

be instead be a Cowboy road racer flying down Bakersfield's 151 square miles of streets and roads, like a mad hatter, like a Wild Mister Toad,

disregarding the reality of red lights and what makes sense to the common everyday woman and man, shouting I don't give a rats ass because I am a free Trump-loving denizen in our great American land,

shooting my guns bang! bang! bang! all objections be hanged and strung from the Great Oil Derrick floating high in the western sky, taking all the Colorado River's water to irrigate my carrots, grapes and 

lemons too, because out of the desert we have created a city bright and expansive and completely new, another kind of thinking, a combination of Mexican tequila and Budweiser beer fueling our unique human 

zoo, and we don't care what you say, we will drink unleaded gasoline straight and do what we gonna do, minus any Liberal crying, so please go soak your heads you damn assholes, straight into the nearest loo.  



Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Very Quickly, Greetings From San Francisco International Airport: What Is Normal?

Sitting here at the airport, and the race is on, can I get this posting done, edited and published before boarding at 9:05 AM, and what if anything do I have to say about taxi that will impart new knowledge upon the taxi hemisphere?  Nothing, I have nothing to say other than the new PSD policy having everyone paying monthly for their AT&T tablet services is a pain, my taxi colleague Rick reporting his tablet, the ability to get calls, went blank at 12:30 this morning.  Not nice, no, not at all.  Always something going wrong or astray in the wild, wild, wild world that is taxi driving.  Something good was a GEICO Insurance radio commercial touting the routing skills of cabbies, which I will repeat here once I can find the radio ad script or audio online.  It was astoundingly accurate which is rare when anyone other than a cabbie talks or writes about taxicab as it is and as I know too well. 

My time in Bakersfield and Tehachapi was at times confounding, bewildering and exhausting, dealing with situations unfamiliar and perplexing while attempting to get the cooperation of the various people involved with my sister's care and wellbeing.  It also didn't help that my sister has not been taking care of commonplace business for years, for instance not removing her husband's name on bank accounts, etc, even though John died in April 2009.  And adding to all this was my sister's off and on incoherence, simple decision making becoming something more than difficult but impossible, putting my poor brain in a spin.

But a huge positive, from a dining perspective at least, was the discovery of a very good Chinese restaurant, the Great Castle, located at 410 Union Avenue, Bakersfield, telephone number 661-325-3311, surprising me with some of the best Chinese Mandarin cuisine I've had in years.  As I find in my various travels, you never know, and if passing through Bakersfield, I highly recommend you find the joint and eat to your Chinese food heart's content.  And they seemed to like me too, one of the older waiters patting me on the back as I left yesterday evening's meal.  Why?  Maybe tipping but it seems I was the rare customer ordering "real" Chinese food.  Yeah, I've eaten Chinese 'round the world, and if I ever have the leisure time and opportunity, it would be fun writing a book concerning all my many thousands of Chinese meals here, there and China, Hong Kong and Saigon everywhere.  I still remember the canned Chinese food my mother would sometimes serve in our mobile home, La Choy and Chun King brands serving up overcooked and bland ersatz Chinese  Awful, truly awful American pretend Chinese food.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Greetings From Bakersfield, California, Population: 379,000---Home To The Most Craziest Drivers In All The USA & Progressive Insurance: What Are They Doing?

Bakersfield, CA, Home to Organic Carrots and Nutty Drivers

I'm in Merle Haggard's home town assisting with a family crisis, as my second oldest sister, JoAnn, now finds herself in palliative care due to a recent cancer diagnosis.  I arrived late last night and visited her this past afternoon.  Tomorrow I drive up to her house in Tehachapi, located up a desert mountain, meeting with a real estate agent, and Katherine, someone from JoAnn's local Catholic Church who has been helping my sister over the past month.  It is heartening to see community involvement joining in when a neighbor requires a helping hand.  Tehachapi is a small town, perhaps that explaining the kindness and care exhibited.   

But one Bakersfield community feature that isn't so nice is the deranged driving style embraced by nearly everyone, a standard 50 MPH speed limit upon ordinary streets encouraging true foolishness, folks more or less "drag racing" from light to light.  I've witnessed some dumbbell driving in our USA, especially in Los Angeles and Michigan but these automotive clowns might be the worst, Bakersfield's streets a nonsensical circus.  I now gun my VW Jetta rent-a-car off the line when the signal turns green just to avoid being crashed into.  The drivers here are truly vicious, out for blood.

I did notice three Bakersfield cabbies sitting at the airport as I drove away.  If I had noticed them earlier, I would have stopped by and chatted, curious what it must be like driving cab here, and now that I know, how the driving conditions are.  Ya gotta be fast to survive around here!

And know when you buy those "Bunny Luv" organic carrots at your local natural food grocery or organic produce section, know they were grown here in Bakersfield kissed by the desert sun and kept moist by water flowing in irrigation canals.  Where nothing should grow, everything does.  Ask Bugs Bunny.  He'll tell ya all about the California vegetable miracle story, almond trees drinking up all that precious water.

Boy, was I surprised!

Waking up yesterday morning, I got a call from my Progressive claims adjustor telling me I was being held liable for the accident I described last week, when the driver wanted me to die.  I was dumbfounded because it defies the known laws of physics, that when I was barely moving and the woman comes flying up beside at me at an angle, on the wrong side of the road, and hits me.  "No, no no!" I howled, this is not going to be!  

In one sense, I have only myself to blame because it took me two weeks, meaning this morning I finally filled out my online Yellow/PSD accident report.  And speaking of howling, I hounded my Key Insurance agents, fully expressing my displeasure with how this was being handled by Progressive.  To call me angry and disturbed by my own insurance company essentially telling me I was lying, that I am a liar,  that I made up this story, was, and remains beyond belief.  Someone at Progressive must have gotten my message because, later today, I received a email requesting that I fill out a diagram of the incident.  Now that's it more like it, and how it should be done. 

Anyone who knows me knows I'm an honest fellow, and if I had caused the accident, I would have fully admitted it.  It is that simple.  And when filling out the report, I only then noticed that the other driver's insurance info was expired.  Was she driving without insurance?  I wonder.   

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Aftermath Of An Accident: "I Hope You Are T-Boned And Die! I Want You To Die!" & Who Are Serving Hopelink Customers After 6:00 PM? Anyone? No One? & Poem

Hit on South Atlantic Street

It is a small expectation, one would think, when turning left upon a familiar street, a turn done thousands of times, that proceeding forward unhindered would be the commonplace result but no, this time it had to be different, my simple wish for unimpeded motion suddenly quashed by the completely unexpected appearance of a frenzied driver flying through the intersection eastbound in the westbound lane, rudely bumping poor 1092's nose, bruising his left side just above the wheel well, the crazy lady scratching her car's right passenger side from one end to the other.  Why she did this, you would have to ask her but one thing I do know for sure is what she, after exchanging information, said, that is shouted at me, shaking like the proverbial leaf, and I quote, "I hope you are T-boned and die!  I want you to die!"  And that isn't very nice, is it?  Obviously not.  Oh, ain't modern life grand, everyone having such a good time in Seattle-land. 

After hours Hopelink? Good luck!

Now with Farwest Taxi's curtailed evening hours and Hopelink not wanting to deal with our overseas dispatch, how will Hopelink's evening and early morning clients ever get home?  A surprised University Hospital nurse was startled when I told her I wasn't her patient's cab.  Did the mother and infant ever get home this past Saturday night.  Don't know but I do care.


Title: "Again, Poetry"

Placing words upon the poetic page

a hopeful anagram----collecting, combining

letters and words into a literary endeavor expressing

what? the issue and problem,

merely made more difficult when not requesting 

slippered feet scampering down couplet avenues

to stanza heaven, or is it Hades---words, elusive words

bedeviling the unamused practitioner,

Marianne Moore's toad sticking out its tongue,

laughing at you.


Please note:  This is not my intended structure but the damn computer won't let me do anything else, goddamnit!  For reference, see and read Moore's poem "Poetry."  And maybe the toad will become a frog sitting upon a log, loudly croaking, croaking through the fog shrouded pond. 

And "slippered feet" would be traditional meter used to dance and prance down the metric line, ever so fine! for the Victorian English mind!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Uber's State of California Proposition 22 Ruled Unconstitutional & Tesla's Autopilot Accidents And Future Of Autonomous-Driving Vehicles

 "The entirely of Proposition 22 is unenforceable." says Alameda County Superior Court Judge Roesch

On Friday, August 20th, Judge Frank Roesch, a Superior Court judge in Alameda County, California, ruled that the 2020 California voter initiative known as Proposition 22, a law  passed by a 58% vote margin after a $200 million dollar promotion campaign paid by Uber, Lyft and other TNC companies, was ruled unconstitutional (violating the State of California Constitution) and unenforceable because it limited the California Legislature's ability to organize and access worker's compensation by requiring a 7/8ths supermajority to amend the proposition, something viewed as impossible.  Anyone familiar with how government functions in the USA knows that the most stringent majority requirement is usually 2/3rds of the elected body, a 7/8ths requirement something straight out of a autocracy, something that might make a Stalin or a Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) smile in appreciation. What Proposition 22 accomplished was abolishing California Assembly Bill 5, a law recognizing gig workers as employees.  No, no, Uber and Lyft didn't like that, a concept undermining their ability to keep the drivers corralled and pinned beneath their corporate thumb.  

In further explaining his ruling Judge Roesh wrote "A prohibition on legislation authorizing collective bargaining by app-based drivers does not promote the right to work as an independent contractor, nor does it provide minimum workplace safety and pay standards for those workers. It appears only to protect the economic interest of the network companies in having a divided, un-unionized workforce, which is not a stated goal of the legislation."  He could not have stated it any clearer, dismissing the lie that Proposition 22 would enhance gig workers lives.  In a survey of 500 California gig workers, only 10 percent have received the promised health care subsidy, that is, a mere 50 out of 500 individuals. 

In a published comment, University of California-Hastings Law Professor, Veena Dubal, said that the TNC companies "erred in trying to completely take away the right of legislatures and municipalities to do anything on behalf of workers, as well as trying to take the workers out of the state workers' state compensation system."  

It is clear that Uber and Lyft are doing everything they can to survive because they remain on the verge of failure, of disappearing completely from the transportation landscape.  Uber lost $6.77 billion in 2020 and $8.51 billion in 2019.   Lyft lost $1.75 billion in 2020 and $2.60 billion in 2019.  Ther rates charged to riders have gone up 92% from January 2018 to July of this year, 2021.  As of this July, their overall workforce is down by 40%.  

A good, bad example of what is occurring was the fellow I took home from 2nd and South Jackson Street to his place on the 900 hundred-block of 10th Avenue East.  Uber quoted him $60.00.  My meter read just over ten dollars.  It is the wild, wild west and now the taxis are winning the fare-based shootout.  Hurray!

Tesla's Potentially Fatal Autopilot Operating System

Pre-pandemic, us cabbies sitting at the train station argued about how we would or wouldn't be replaced by autonomous or robotic cars, vehicles not needing a driver to safely operate.  Finally, after a more or less hands off policy, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is opening an investigation into the at least 11 accidents involving Tesla's Autopilot system, the crashes killing one woman and injuring a total of 17 people.  It seems the Autopilot has a knack for running into emergency response vehicles parked on the side of freeways.  Not a good thing.  

And what does it mean concerning the replacement of cabbies by completely hands-free vehicles?  That it isn't happening soon, if at all, is the answer.  Despite all the previous media hype, our society is years away from that science fiction reality.  Instead, like in Germany, teach people to really learn and know how to drive a car.  Do that and we will all be safer, happier and wiser.