Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Taking A Murderer By The Hand Is A Fatal Idea: The Uber And New York City Taxi Collaboration & Mt Laundry & O'Brien-Staley Partners Capitulate

The newspaper headlines raged: "New York City Yellow Cabs will now Partner with Uber", and yes folks, it's true, that customers can enlist a Yellow Cab through Uber's app.  It's your choice, a regular Uber operator or a Yellow Cab.  Why someone would do that, picking one over the other is something I don't quite understand unless you are supportive of the taxi industry and despise Uber.  

It is said it can be an advantage when the cab is dropping off in the outer boroughs but Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island are already served by the Green Cab version of New York taxi so why is any of this necessary?  The only positive I can see is that it acts as a kind of dispatch absent from Manhattan taxis but isn't it true that they have their own app called Arro, making this arrangement superfluous?  

Uber likes it because it presents them as cooperative and compassionate, something Uber is not but its good publicity, a newer and kinder Uber hugging and kissing those once awful cabbies.  But for the cabbie it is a slap because Uber rates are lower, making their time sitting in Manhattan's notorious traffic even less profitable.  

What I sense you are seeing is a local cab industry exhausted by the many negative factors over the past few years, causing not only abject despair but also bankruptcies and suicide.  Joining Uber is a kind of giving up, surrendering to the enemy, their Yellow Cab now their prison cell, the freedom that once was taxi becoming a new kind of mobile internment camp, an Executive Order 9066 minus FDR's wartime proclamation, though this time everyone deceptively remaining free but still held captive in sorrow and shame, the mental uniform of the defeated. 

Too Much Laundry for One Cab

Driving up, I see this guy sitting atop a literal mountain of laundry, all bagged and ready to go but my cab isn't a dump trunk, and I said I don't think it would all fit into the car.  In all my years, I had never seen anything like all these bags amounting to nearly half the size of my cab.  He got mad and said I was rude, and while shouting at me, a young couple drove up and decided they would pile the laundry into their car.  A bit later, as I am on my way to the airport, dispatch calls to tell me a "concerned citizen" telephoned to comment upon my behavior.  But I swear I was only trying to figure out how to help the guy but he wanted Jesus and decided instead I was the Devil, not an Angel flying off to Sea-Tac. 

It Ain't Nice to Profit from Hard Working Cabbies

As I have recently noted, not every medallion finance company had agreed to the great compromise allowing the NYC cabbies some relief from insane mortgage rates, with many still losing their medallions to roving repo men.  In protest, a convoy of cabbies from NYC drove all the way to the headquarters of the bad faith company, O'Brien-Staley Partners in Edina, Minnesota, saying this isn't fair and what are you going to do about it?  OPS, as the company is known, and the holder of 323 medallions, bowed to political pressure today, and has agreed to sign on to the medallion readjustment package.  Greed isn't pretty when its in the spotlight, and now how happy all the cabbies are! getting the opportunity to once again work themselves to death.  Hurray!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

More Detail Concerning Uber/Lyft HB 2076 & A Veteran Cabbie Tells Me How Not To Make $$$$ & Whatever You Do, Do Not Call For A Taxi In The Evening From A Grocery Store & COVID-19 Story Not Over & Dog Gone Doggerel

The Governor Has Yet to Sign HB 2076

Last week a regular reader and owner of a cab company operating north of Seattle sent me an email, gently saying I left some information out, or that some of what I wrote was a bit misleading.  She told me to read the bill and I more or less just did.  As I wrote back to her, my time is precious, and given that I haven't received a salary for my ten-plus years writing this taxi missive for the world to read and ponder, sometimes I just "cut corners" and limit my research upon a given topic.  What I wrote last week was essentially a quick overview, taken from various news outlets, and today's continuation isn't much better but does contain a few more details thanks to the just mentioned kind and interested reader.  What is intriguing is that HB 2076 reached Jay Inslee's desk March 10th.  And here it is, March 22nd, and it remains unsigned.  Why I don't know but you could call Jay and ask him, Mister Inslee, I know, viewing himself as a "governor of the people," and surely he will take the time from his busy day to talk to a fellow citizen.

An important part of this Uber/Lyft backed bill is about paying the drivers more.  In urban areas of over 600,000 population (that means only Seattle), the new driver pay rate would be 59 cents per passenger minute plus $1.38 per passenger mile; or a minimum of $5.17.  Everywhere else the driver gets 34 cents plus $1.17 or a big fat $3.00 minimum.  No wonder Uber and Lyft loves this bill.  We "ever so lucky" Seattle/King County cabbies get a $2.60 drop, $2.70 per mile and 50 cents wait time.  We can also charge 50 cents for every extra passenger over two but I never add that on, thinking it is stupid and insults the passengers.  In Europe they will charge you for your luggage, something again too stupid and insulting.  The Uber/Lyft rate increases each year when state minimum rates go up but since it is only pennies, who truly cares?

And speaking of pennies, Uber and Lyft will contribute 15 cents per passenger ride to the new Driver Resource Center.  This is a cheap reward because HB 2076 codifies TNC driver status as independent contractors and not employees.  Leonard Smith, he of Teamsters 117 and a supporter of the bill, should bow his head in shame.  The bill also creates the establishment of new State of Washington regulations for the drivers, meaning a further bureaucratic yoke will be added to the driver's shoulders.  How fun that will be!  But they will now have the right to fight deactivations and protects them from company retaliation.  That's right, Uber and Lyft now LOVES their drivers.  Ha Ha is my response. 

As I wrote last week, there will be other kinds of compensation available but what if Inslee doesn't sign HB 2076 into law, then what will happen?  My prediction is a declaration of war by Uber and Lyft, suddenly no longer nice, their response COLD as ICE. 

Sitting in Your Room is the Wrong Way to Make Money

I called him after I heard he had been attacked but no, not in the taxi but while standing in line at a 7-11 store, some crazed individual striking him in the back and neck.  And while talking about business, and this guy is experienced, having more years out here than me, I was surprised to hear  he was out of his cab, sitting in a chair, taxi tablet in hand (our MTI dispatch system), waiting for a bell or his telephone to ring.  

Yes, he is tired, and working seven days a week will do that but not stalking your taxi prey in your cab translates only into someone else bagging the trophy bell.  A better method I have found is working long hours three or four straight days, then stopping for another three or four days, taking it easy, having fun or simply catching up on sleep.  

Taxi is brutal, so grabbing taxi by the collar and shaking it hard is the best way to bring in the big money.  Only by being relentless do you score, like the basketball player driving to the basket despite a seven-foot tall obstacle blocking the key.  "Hell!" you say, "I'm gonna score!" and score you will while never forgetting that elbow to your forehead.  That's basketball, that's taxi!  But you aren't going do much scoring sitting in your easy chair in a heated room. It just doesn't happen that way.  As a certified taxi referee, all I can do is blow my whistle, and yell, "Intentional foul! Off to the bench you go!" 

Don't Go Food Shopping After 6:00 PM

Warning to all Yellow Cab customers who use the cabs for grocery shopping: Do not expect a timely cab in the evening when you have completed your shopping at Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyers.  You will not be getting your cab anytime soon.  One hour to three hour waits have become commonplace.  When I am working, I have now taken to purposely accepting the grocery runs due to drivers either avoiding them or dumping the calls altogether, having tried of discovering long-suffering older customers waiting out in the rain.  Again, do your shopping in the morning or afternoon.  Even then you will have to wait longer than you should but eventually you will get picked up and taken home, your ice cream not melting or your milk souring.  This is reality.  This is how it is.

A Taxi Bum?

This past week I was in a local Safeway walking around when a woman walked up to me and asked if I needed help buying groceries, somehow judging that, by my clothing, I was destitute.  No, I smiled, and in fact I donate monthly out of my back account to a national food bank,  Food Lifeline, and she does too.  Yes, a kindred spirit attempting to save the world one taxi bum at a time.  The hole in my left pants pocket attracted her attention.  I laughed and told her why the torn material and I think she actually believed me.  I wouldn't lie. 

More Masks Than Ever

While all the the mask mandates are ending, 1,200 Americans die per day from the coronavirus, which is why I still make my passengers wear them.  One regular customer, Mike, said no, and out the door he went. And the last time he was in my cab the fare was $95.00.  A new sub-variant is now in the air.  And you might not but I certainly do care.  Mask up and shut up! 

More Taxi Doggerel 

Swallowed alive by taxi

is my life, and yes

too true, too true, though

something sadly not

surprising or new,

only eating, sleeping, driving 

cab, this most

worst experiment possible 

in life's teeming lab-


the same grim sad-sack 


finding myself consigned to the 

living dead, 

my feet, 

my movements stifled, 

immersed in yellowish,



taking me nowhere but 

to the final cold 

and damp

coffin bed,

death my final bridesmaid,

to bleak eternity 

I am wed.  

Late night haiku, Bitter Lake

the geese talk through my

window, floating on the lake

bidding me goodnight. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Puget Sound Dispatch Stands Up To MV & The State of Washington Is About To Kiss Uber's Buttock & The Emergency That's Hopelink's Post 6:00 PM Service

Puget Sound Dispatch Provides MV An One-Month Notice

As I have suggested, MV's, (Metro Access Van (and taxi) service provider), arrogance knows no bounds, and proved it recently by informing Puget Sound Dispatch (Seattle Yellow Cab) they owed MV over $45,000 in violations accrued by Yellow cabbies.  There were many problems with MV's calculations, chiefly being that since we are independent operators, PSD has no legal control over our actions; and that the violations stated were petty, fining drivers for delivering the passenger "too early" to their destination and other such crimes not worthy of mention.  And rightfully, given MV's  nonsensical position, PSD gave MV an one-month notice terminating the contract.  

This is a case of MV pushing too hard while not understanding (or caring) about taxi industry dynamics.  How this standoff ends is unknown but I won't be surprised if MV backs down because, as I noted last week, there is no other provider out there that can serve MV client needs.   As is always the case, who ultimately suffers from this argument?  None other than MV's clients, lashed by MV incompetence, management minus heart and mind. 

More Government Welfare for Uber & Lyft Operators: HB 2076   

Uber and Lyft have struck a "Devil's Bargain" with the so called Uber/Lyft Drivers Union, Teamsters Local 117 and the State of Washington, saying, "We agree to these new conditions, as long as the drivers are never recognized as OUR employees."  As I write, the new bill awaits Governor Inslee's signature, providing Uber and Lyft drivers benefits unheard of in the taxi industry.  These include a statewide minimum wage, sick leave, unemployment, paid medical leave and other long term benefits.  There will also be something established that is called the "Driver's Resource Center" that will referee disputes. Maybe it will also have hot tubs to soak their weary heads. 

While this might be all well and good for them, where in the bill does it mention cab driver's concerns and welfare?  The answer is an obvious no, cab industry needs and wants as usual, completely ignored, regulators acting like it doesn't exist.  And do we exist for all those in government making rules and laws protecting the very same people who nearly killed the taxi industry nationwide?  

Only for a few seconds in a given year and nothing beyond that.  We only exist when it is time to pay for our totally useless annual state licenses and business taxes.  After that, we are dead meat, festered by municipal, county and state neglect.  This is our current reality, and remaining it appears, as an official, and perhaps final and permanent state of affairs. 

No Hopelink After 6:00 PM

There is serous crisis brewing and it appears I am the only one sounding the alarm.  Because Hopelink will not work with PSD's (Yellow Cab Seattle) Cebu-based dispatch; and because Farwest Taxi turns off its dispatch in the evening,  no one is left to pick up the many clients waiting to get home from area hospitals.  If the hospital decides not to pay for the transportation, their patient either has to walk home or hope there is a bus at three in the morning.   I keep telling everyone this is true, and keep asking just what are you going to do about it?  I have been yelling now for months, and as usual, it is the usual "nothing, nothing, nothing" in response. 

 It is irresponsible.  It is immoral.  It is cruel.  Does anyone truly care what happens to these folks, the "New American Dalits?"   The answer is HA HA HA! not at all!  

A Haiku While Walking Along an Urban Trail, North Seattle, Early March

delicate petals
speaking white---surprising me
this early evening. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Saying Goodbye To My Faithful Crown Victoria: A Short Homage & Top Tips For Money Making Cabbies & A Quick List Of Ongoing Wars And Armed Conflicts

Goodbye To Faithful Gabriel 

After providing me with over 330,000 taxi miles over a four-year span, my Ford Crown Victoria ( nicknamed Gabriel by "she-who-can't-be named"), is now officially retired, with his replacement, my late sister JoAnne's 2014 Kia Optima (nicknamed "Tehachapi") now painted, equipment installed, insured and ready to go once it is inspected by the City on Friday.  Beginning with an original 103,000 miles after paying a bargain $3,500, this Crown Vic has been a solid runner, the engine still robust minus consuming a bit of oil, and who can blame a bit "wear and tear" after all those hard taxi miles taking me all over the greater Puget Sound region and numerous times up and over the mighty Cascades into eastern Washington.  Thank you, Gabriel.   

Yes, a wonderful car, and a true testament to the Ford Motor Company's engineering prowess, making me reluctant to say farewell to such a great mechanical friend but having no need nor room for three cars, I am still deciding where he will go.  Many want him to be their valiant automotive steed though my prime concern is to ensure, from whoever it might be, fair and good treatment honoring Gabriel's glorious recent past and my enduring affection for a car both steady companion and forthright protector upon the treacherous, dumbbell  roadways.  Hail  Noble Gabriel!  Farewell!

It's All About Making the Money, the Taxi Honey

More than one current Seattle cabbie has questioned my claim, assertion that "business is good" and that there is money, big money to be made.  A Mister Hubbly Bubbly even accused me of "being on the take," fed good fares by those (in the Philippines) who despise me.  Given all this, conspiracy theories and maybe rampant paranoia, I feel the best response is go over some of my "tricks of the taxi trade" for making money, pointing out how some areas of thought and behavior best avoided unless one is interested in stewing in sour juices, an in general "losing of your mind," which is too easy to to achieve in this business sitting in the taxi wondering "what the hell am I going to do next?"  

Everything I have learned about driving taxi has been by trial and error, solely from the putting in of literally thousands of hours beneath the top-light because there is no formal tutorial teaching you how to drive cab.  Everything I am putting down here are lessons learned I personally apply in my daily stints upon the road.  

My abiding interest for my fellow cabbies is altruistic minus any and all hidden agendas.  Make money!  Be happy!  And above all, understand that your efforts are appreciated if it doesn't seem like anyone cares.  Who cares?  Why the taxi gods of course who oversee our bit of heaven and hell, monitoring, like Santa Claus, whether we are naughty or nice in the service of those who need us---rich and poor, sane and crazy, smart and dumb---all taxi plums hanging from the ripening passenger tree. 

Taxi Tips in No Particular Order

Never allow yourself to become desperate, desperation morphing into all kinds of destructive thoughts, paranoia, madness begins creeping in, taking away your concentration. 

Remaining positive even when you feel all evidence dictates otherwise.  Eventually you will get a bell, so make every effort to remain relaxed and thinking clearly.

Work everywhere.  Work all the zones and areas of Seattle and King County.  Always waiting for that gilded egg from whatever Golden Goose you believe in, be it Sea-Tac or the Amtrak station, is the quickest way to make no money whatsoever.

Now this is a hard one, especially for me.  Try to remain patient with your most annoying passengers, because "losing your cool" only knocks you off your taxi game, leading to irritation, annoyance and no money.

Go where the action is, just be smart about it, the action being big time sporting events and concerts.  The key here is to learn how to negotiate heavy traffic, bossy cops and milling pedestrians filling the streets.  For instance, using the alleys to beat traffic near the Seahawk Stadium is where I often find myself alone with countless customers waving at me.  I always take the first one I see, instead of asking "where are you going?"

Don't take the wrong bell.  Given the inexperience of Cebu-based dispatch, they will take bells in the middle of a "breaking" Seahawk or UW Husky football game which you will never be able to find. Don't do it unless you are VERY certain you know where the passenger is waiting.  The cops won't let you in and you'll never find the customer. 

Work the long hours.  The more hours put in, the better.  Those who try to treat taxi like some 9-5 job have got it all wrong, which is what the majority of Yellow cabbies are now doing.  I have found that taxi is an ever flowing river, a constant flow of passengers day and night.  The only way to get those fares is to be out there hunting for them.  Back in the good, old days, when TAXI WAS KING and I was only leasing the weekends,  I would work as much out of the 48 hours as I could, starting early every Saturday morning, and usually by 7:00 AM I now had my lease and gasoline money, leaving the entire rest of Saturday and all of Sunday to roll in the profit.  I then took five days off.  It was crazy but well worth it, having all that free time off and away from taxi.

As much as possible, work where you are.  Yes, we all have favorite areas or zones or neighborhoods but give Renton, Skyway, Shoreline a chance to give you something good.  Last year I took a bell in Kent, Zone 460, an area I sometimes avoid and got a package delivery to the Olympic Peninsula.  It was a lesson learned and one I haven't forgotten.  

Part of working where you are is not driving past the bell.  Even now I keep driving north only to see that I left a bell behind in Burien or White Center, kicking myself for my stupidity.  I don't care where the bell originates, I just want it because if I'm in the area, I am glad to serve it.  This is where the mistake of trying to grab the Golden Goose comes in, not realizing that the silly goose could be sitting in Tukwila sticking its tongue out at you.  Obviously then, that goose and its hundred dollar egg could be anywhere and often is.  Work all the zones and crack that egg!

Deal with the tickets, the moving violations.  If you don't, as is said, as you will be very sorry by paying much more than necessary for your cab insurance.  That is just flushing away your working hours down the taxi toilet.  Hire a lawyer, do anything but don't immediately pay the ticket.  It is a costly mistake.

Don't dump the bells, be they grocery runs or whatever.  You never know where the passenger is really going, and besides, our goal must be customer service, not disservice.  

Chose you your regular customers, your "personals" wisely.  Train them to call at least one hour in advance.  And if they don't become big tippers, my advise is to avoid passengers who don't appreciate the special attention you are providing.  Screw cheap! 

Be honest.  Some of our fellow cabbies have recently been dialing "false calls" to make a fellow driver lose their zone position when all of them are waiting for a known big money fare.  Not only is it not kind or moral, karma will get you, angering the taxi gods. 

Another helpful ploy is "watching like a taxi hawk" the Bid/Prospect screen.  When you see an account fare pop up in a "hot" area like Zone 150 or Zone 230, grab it if you can.  You might be going to Yakima, and three cheers for that!

That's it as the hour is getting late.  And I will try to take my own advice. Good hunting, everyone, good luck!

Russia's Invasion of the Ukraine Isn't the Only One 

While the current headlines are dominated by Putin's insane incursion into its western neighbor, that war is not the only one occurring in the present time.  Quickly I will list the many ongoing armed conflicts, something I make every attempt to stay aware of.  Why?  Having a long interest in history, I watch the historical connections adding up to the unwarranted killing of fellow human beings, something unfortunately very popular and ongoing. As we celebrate birth, we as a species equally embrace murder.

The Crazy List begins:

Libya---Civil War

Cameroon---Religious War

Burkina Faso---Religious War

Ethiopia---Civil & Ethic War

Somalia---Religious War

Mali---Religious War

Yemen---Ethic & Political War

Nigeria---Terrorist Incursions 

Democratic Republic of the Congo, North Kivu, Eastern Congo---Terrorist Incursions

Northern Mozambique---Islamic Terrorism 

Central African Republic---Civil & Ethic War

South Sudan---Wide spread communal violence 

Syria---Civil War & Terrorist Incursion

The Philippines---Maoist Insurgency

Myanmar---Rohingya Genocide 

Israeli-Palestinian---War & Conflict since 1948

Morocco-Western Sahara---War of Independence 

Kashmir/Pakistan-India---Territorial War

There have also been what some might consider minor conflicts and armed disagreements but I am keeping it limited to the most serious situations causing major death and destruction.

Last year, 2021, there was a serious war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.  And of course there was America's 20 year-long Afghanistan war.

When will we ever learn?  Perhaps never is the sad answer.

Peace and love?  Doubtful in the immediate future.  You might also notice that most of the current wars originated in countries formally colonized by white, European powers.  And going way back into the late 19th C, early 20th C, who was it that murdered and starved over 200,000 Filipinos ? The USA.

And one might ask, why all the interest in the current Russia-Ukraine War?  Could it be that the Ukrainians are white, not black or brown?  Sadly, that might be true, along with, at least in theory, a shared culture.