Puget Sound Dispatch's Report on Meeting with MV (Metro's Access Ride Provider)
In the last PSD newsletter, they reported on a recent policy meeting they held with MV leadership , MV being the company/agency dispatching and managing all those Seattle/King County Metro Access vans transporting disabled and low-income passengers throughout the greater Seattle and King County area. When an Access van is not available, MV contracts with Yellow (PSD) to instead provide a taxi ride as a quick and safe alternative. Prior to this, a different agency, First Transit was the Access Service Paratransit Provider. Why the switch/changeover occurred in 2019 I don't know but ever since then, our collective (PSD-Yellow Independent Operators) relationship with MV has been constrained, and worse, fraught with an at times poor communication and bureaucratic bungling. PSD's telling of the meeting only confirming this.
First, it is important to know that MV is a nationwide company, founded in 1975, providing transportation services to over to 200 cities and counties, universities, school districts etc, which perhaps explains what I have encountered in my various past interactions with MV's call-center: a sometimes intransigent attitude colored by bewildering incompetence, the simple becoming an indecipherable puzzle gripping your mind and throat. I suppose this happens when you get, as it is said, "too big for your britches," translating into "we don't really care because we don't have to," a kind of big government mindset lurching forward regardless of who they might be trampling or running over. I personally have stopped serving the MV account after, minus any explanation as to why, MV insisted that all of us cabbies go through yet another unnecessary background check. After too many unpleasant past interactions, I decided I was no longer interested being abused by MV.
The newsletter reported that MV has decided that we must collect the small pickup fee, usually $1.75 from the already impoverished customers, but if they don't pay, we have to send a message stating this. Why MV cares one way or the other is a mystery. When I was working the account, I made a point of refusing the money because, plain and simple, I felt queasy about taking money from the dispossessed poor. Kind of immoral was my feeling.
MV also reiterated that all MV no-shows must go through their dispatchers for approval, with no other alternatives available; and as I have hinted, MV dysfunction is rampant, and their demand is something I find utterly unacceptable. As any cabbie knows, no-shows occur all the time, so why should any of us spend 15-30 minutes arguing with a damn fool while our valuable time is completely wasted, thrown away by MV's institutional inefficiency? No good reason that I can think of. Can you?
Another issue has been the low per mile rate offered by MV. Now they said in the meeting that it was all King County's fault, and eventually King County will change its computing software but in the meanwhile, all the cabbies have to "suck it up" and take the scraps thrown to them. That's nice, sugar and spice, isn't it?
As is clear to me, MV is as arrogant as it gets, and because PSD management allows itself to be manhandled and abused, I suggest an action that could get MV's quick attention. I say that all of us participate in an informal boycott, either by not signing up for MV or by simply refusing MV bells, letting MV find another way to serve their passengers. But guess what everyone, we are it and there is no one else who has the capacity to provide the level of service required. In short, they need us more than we need them. Since PSD management won't do the required pushing, we instead must push forward, demanding just and fair treatment.
Do I really think my fellow independent operators will do this? No, but it is the correct response when you have been knocked upon the head and told "you can please go to hell." Though as I have pointed out numerous times in these pages over the past eleven years, my fellow cabbies are very skilled at creating their own very personal Hades---sitting there wondering what is burning, their hair ablaze, smoke filling their taxi's interior, irritating eyes and throat.
The Death Trap that is the Nissan Tsuru Taxicab---4100 Dead in Tsuru Cab Accidents
Yes, it's true, as I found out in the February 9th, 2022 article written by Dylan Taylor-Lehman in the online magazine, "Atlas Obscura," four thousand, one hundred Mexican taxi passengers have died between the years 2012-2017 while riding in a Tsuru taxicab. The article focuses upon drivers in the Mexican city of Xalapa in the State of Veracruz. Anyone who has taken a cab recently in Mexico, like I have, have been in the now infamous Nissan Tsuru, a version of the Nissan Sentra built in Aguascalientes, Mexico. This model has received, if one can believe it, a zero-star safety rating from something called the Latin New. Car Assessment Program (LNCAP). The Tsuru has no crumble zone protection or airbags or anti-lock brakes and stability control. Production ended in 2017 but they have been allowed a ten-year grace period so you too can die in one until 2027. And in Xalapa, due to misguided deregulation, there are 75,000 cabbies who are mostly driving Tsurus. If planning a Mexico holiday, you might chose a different destination.
A Sad Postscript to the New York City Cab Medallion Story
As I wrote in late 2021, after a much publicized hunger strike, it was proclaimed that ALL the NYC cab driver medallion owners had won a great victory, by getting what they owed reduced to an affordable amount. The problem was that the settlement was directed at only one medallion mortgage company, and not all the others who were holding medallion loans. And what has been happening the past three months is the foreclosure upon nearly a hundred cabbies, their medallions ripped from their cabs. Many of the cabbies expressed surprise which tells the entire story of how they were duped in the first place, the innocent victimized by the rapacious. Sad story but too true but this is what occurs when people are not paying attention, or don't have the ability to, so what can you do, painting the planet blue?
Dear Hubbly Bubbly
Thanks much for your two comments stemming from last week's posting. I appreciate and understand the emotion, the frustration expressed because driving taxi brutally attacks body mind and soul. There is only one reason to do this, and that's for the money, and if the money isn't there, or you aren't making it, taxi suddenly is no longer benign or neutral but damaging, destructive, horrible.
So yes, if it seems like I am denying that reality, your reality, or its potential, I can see why you might think me insensitive, or worse, gone over to the dark side, now traitorous and fraudulent. Why I am at times obnoxious, dishonest or a cheat I am not. For me to say I am this but in truth being that is something I have never done and would never do. But if you agree that I am moral and and a good fellow, then why, you appear to question, is my taxi reality different from yours? Perhaps a quick explanation will help.
Back in September 1987, I began driving weekends for a three-car independent company, Classic Cab, classic because the cars were the original Checker Marathon. Great car and fun to drive. There was no dispatch, which meant I had to figure out how to make money minus the assist of driving for a larger, more formally organized company. Quickly, I became an astute hunter, using logic as to where my taxi prey could be grazing. Back then, UW Husky football was in its Don James glory days, and it was there I first feasted and honed my skills. Within a couple months, Ananda, a fellow Classic driver and 20 year taxi veteran, nicknamed me the "vacuum cleaner" for my ability to scoop up the fares. Again, no dispatch, only an innate savvy directing me. When later, switching over to Farwest, having a buffet of fares to pick and choose only sharpened my ability, along with building my knowledge of everything taxi.
Fast forwarding to today, I use all the skills obtained over these 34 plus years to negotiate my way through the current nonsense that is PSD's dispatching, which I completely agree is too often both dysfunctional and nonsensical. As I was back in 1987, I remain the alert hunter, my taxi ears tuned to the sound of the urban forest, ready to pounce. Much of my current success relies upon recognizing potentially good fares sitting upon the "prospect/bid" screen. For example, that good fare I mentioned, a COVID-19 positive passenger originating in the University District (Zone 150) was one I successfully bid for. Not a feed, just good, old taxicab intuition.
And in that spirit, Mister Hubbly Bubbly, I say, contact me and we can talk about money making strategies and taxi in general. And if you want, you can do a "drive-along" and observe what I do firsthand. I have always been willing to share my "tricks of the trade," and from all reports, those who have taken up my offer, have quickly profited. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can make it happen.
And to anyone else who might be interested, feel free to contact me. Other than my usual time constraints and commitments, I will share with everyone what I know and help in whatever way possible. If this isn't enough, then, as I have often done in the cab when a _______ passenger refuses to listen, I lift up my arms and say "I surrender. I give up. You win."
Boat Ride to Stone Island
In Mazatlan, there is something I highly recommend, and that is the short 8-9 minute boat ride taking you from the city to Stone Island. The small boats, carrying about 20-30 passengers, leave about every 15 minutes. It is a small pleasure, sliding through the sun-danced water. The fare RT is only 35 pesos. The "famous" Stone Island beach isn't that great but the boat ride is wonderful. If in Mazatlan, take it and enjoy and wave to all those brown pelicans standing by.
Quick PS---2/24/22 1:25 PM
By just doing this word quiz a few minutes ago, I found out the origin of the word "boycott." It is taken from the name of a real person, Charles Cunningham Boycott, a British land owner in Ireland, who due to unfair rental practices, was targeted by Irish protests in the year 1880. The protests were successful, thus giving us the term when protesting bad behavior.