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.