Friday, June 11, 2021

"Zoom" Conversation with Four City And County Taxi Regulators

Wednesday morning I participated in a "Zoom" (or in this case, a Microsoft version) conference call with four lads from the City of Seattle and King County, the purpose, stated or otherwise, was to listen and address my concerns about local taxi association authority and pertaining regulatory statuses.  What was achieved remains to be seen but what the good officials heard was a detailed narrative of our local version of that sometimes picaresque world known as American Taxi.  Are all of us indeed roguish or only a reflection of the wear and tear of too many miles and not enough sleep?  I leave it to you and others to decide but it was only near the discussions end did I amusingly realize I was festooned with a villainous orange mustache courtesy of my morning carrot-citrus juice, organic of course.  And somewhere in my tangled nest of hair lay my concealed horns. 

While certainly questioning the power dynamic between PSD/Yellow Cab and its single medallion owners,  exemplified by recent PSD actions concerning a new operator agreement, I most importantly stressed that City and County emphasis must be concentrated upon taxi customer and passenger service--- the how, why and when they receive their beckoned cab.  For me, I told them, that is my utmost concern.  Passengers are relying upon us and simply, too often, we are failing them.  It is unacceptable.

Backing this up with history, I related how this is nothing new, predating the collapse of the BYG Yellow Taxi Co-op, discussing who was and in control and why any and all regulatory adjustments be made with that in mind, saying more than the current General Manager, they must look behind the scenes, to members of the governing board pulling the strings of the taxi puppet show.  To not do that is to do nothing, which I personally would see as an unforgivable bureaucratic error, failing to understand how taxi mathematics work, two plus two not always adding up to four.  

I also suggested that they lift the pedal up from some of their more idealistic initiatives, especially the idea of granting associations more rate flexibility, likening it to giving the taxi teenager keys to the Corvette Stingray.  One, given the current state of Uber and Lyft, it is not a necessary response, and two, more regulatory pressure and control is required, not less, ensuring that Yellow and other associations don't veer into stationary objects.  My rhetorical response has always been, when if ever has local and national taxi companies been cognizant of its role as a mature and adult-acting industry?  Never is my unhappy answer.  And to think PSD/Yellow and other associations have suddenly grown up is a both a dangerous and foolish notion. 

As our hour ended, I left it feeling both pleased and disappointed given I had done the majority of talking, with two of the fellows saying nary a word save hello, reminding me of Supreme Court Justice Thomas and his mute tenure upon the court.  While appreciating the podium, and happy to be heard, an extended give and take conversation would have been especially helpful, because we in the industry are in trouble, our perpetual limp sometimes a stumble striking our foreheads upon the hard pavement of unforgiving reality.  Our industry needs thoughtful assistance and caring guidance.  While not totally blind, and not, as yet, needing a wagging Labrador Retriever to drive our cabs, we require a firm hand, even if that's gripping our shirt collars and tugging us in the correct direction.  Otherwise, this kind of careening down the operational roadway will continue, the taxi associations not slowing down, failing to avoid potholes causing blowouts and broken axles.  

What we need to do, for a few symbolic minutes, is to park, shift into neutral, take a deep breath, and look around to see where we are.  Do we like the scenery of not?  I for one, can say, I don't, not at all, ready for a new taxi script to be written, and followed.  Why not is what I say.  Why not?




  1. They're only listening to collect another paycheck. Useless clowns.

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