Saturday, May 28, 2022

Greetings From Bakersfield & San Francisco: When Nothing Changes Because Nothing Changes: A Quick Current Assessment Of Seattle's Taxi Industry

 It's Hot! in Bakersfield---Highs of Over 100 and 99 degrees F.

It's been a warm few days in the Central Valley, though yesterday, on Friday, cooling down to 88 F.   Yes, a slight difference from the Spring icebox that has been Seattle's April and May, more rain than usual drenching the typical Northwest middle Spring season, delaying the planting of all those tomato starts clogging up your garage.    

I was last in Bakersfield and area in mid-December for my late sister's funeral, and then the weather mimicked Seattle's---rain and cold, and further up eastbound CA State Highway 58, snow.  But since that winterly flourish, it has been dry, dry, dry in this part of California. 

Yesterday, after my Probate Court appointment, I drove out to that area I discovered on my birthday last December,  the Carrizo Plain National Monument, and wonderful again it was but parched and baked by the cruel sun.  What amazed me was an isolation more stark than 2021's chilly December, this time encountering two solitary cars but how can one be lonely when nature in all its grandeur embraces mind, heart and soul?   Give me desolation unless I can be in Paris.   A haiku from yesterday:

                                                       Bird song greets me---no

                                                       longer December but May:

                                                       warm sun my new friend. 

Once Again, Short Commentary Upon Current State Of Seattle Taxi Affairs

If today's remarks contain a theme, it is frustration repeatedly underlined, a frustration clearly expressed in recent comments made by fellow Seattle cabbie and regular reader, Hubbly Bubbly, someone quietly going mad by the indifference displayed by the City, County & Port; the remaining cab associations; and ultimately the majority of our fellow cab drivers, almost everyone involved locally now a kind of taxi somnambulist sleepwalking through the current taxi year, Hubbly Bubbly wondering out loud if anyone out there really cares?  It's a good question, and what is the true answer minus cynicism?  

Only a small percentage, and whatever percentage that may be of people connected in whatever manner to the cab industry, care what happens to the industry as a whole, meaning its owner/drivers and our customers.  Why the majority don't care that working conditions are awful, or why our customers wait too long for their cabs; and worse, those taxis often never arriving, are questions beyond reasonable argument and commonsense.  And the majority also truly don't seem to care that Hopelink service after 7:00 PM is unreliable to the point that patients sit in hospital lobbies long into the night, waits that often extend into the following morning, waiting for that never-to-arrive Hopelink driver. 

I could say more but bottomline its clear, that if there were more genuine concern about the overall welfare of the industry, changes would occur but when few people care, this bad and only worsening scenario is what you get.   And that is how it is.

PS 05/29/22 2:41 AM---William waits 3 hours, 40 minutes for a cab

Arriving back after my California sojourn, I decided to jump in the cab, and immediately I got a call close by.  William had called at 7:30 PM, finally getting his cab, me, at 11:10 PM.   I relate this only to once more point out the obvious, our taxi service is horrendous and what if anything will be done to change it?  You know the answer.

Another PS 05/30/22 12:08 PM---Toya 2 hours late to her job

She had called at 8:00 PM last night to get to work by 10 PM.  I finally got to her at 11:30 PM.  I got her there at midnight.   She asked for a time-call but dispatch failed to do that.  And her fare was placed in the wrong zone.   Did dispatch put out a message saying there was an ASAP call waiting, someone urgently waiting to get to work?  No.

Food at San Francisco Airport, F Gates

Pie Five Pizza is good and the peanut butter cookies at Klein's Deli are worth a munch. 

Reminder: Stacy Anderson Memorial

Sunday, June 5th, 2022, 1:00 PM at Hamlin Park,  16006 15th Ave NE., Shoreline, Washington. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

Sea-Tac Cabbies Setting Their Own Rates? & City Of Seattle Response To Poor Taxi Coverage & Gender Gaps Beneath The Toplight & Nearly 43,000 USA Traffic Deaths In 2021 & Uber Rates Up 45-90 % & Entrapment Part Two & Tired Of Deranged Conversations: No Longer Interested In Participating & Wear That Mask!

The Airport Golden Goose is not so Golden

In a recent Puget Sound Dispatch (Yellow Cab) newsletter, some Seattle Yellow cab drivers working the airport were admonished for being creative with the rates, inventing surcharges that don't exist.  Crazy but the plausible explanation is anger at being limited at what they can charge while Uber and Lyft can double the going rate to downtown minus a murmur of comment or objection from the City of Seattle, King County or the Port of Seattle.  Obviously the Sea-Tac cabbies feel maltreated, and who can really argue with them about the treatment dished out by the regulatory authorities.  

Back in 2014 Uber and Lyft had their cap numbers lifted, and within a year we had over 28,000 TNC operators vs a more or less 1500 cabs.  And I as have reported, the State of Washington passed a package of support for the TNC operators, including rate increases.  

What has the local taxi industry received from the State of Washington?  Why nothing at all which explains the resentful behavior exhibited by the Sea-Tac cabbies.  Is help and protection and assistance coming any time soon?  Of course not.  And that guys and dolls, is the entire story.

A New City of Seattle Medallion Website?

Through publication in the PSD newsletter, the City acknowledged that late night demand is outstripping coverage, and in response is considering a City-based website where local cab owners can sell their unwanted taxi medallions.  I hope it happens soon because coverage is at times quite awful.  Friday afternoon, at about 5:00 PM, I was belled into the Edgewater Hotel and found two separate Sea-Tac fares waiting, one had already waited one hour, and the other guy 30 minutes.  Both got in my cab and I think I  got them to the airport in time to catch their flights.  It was heavy rush hour traffic but still I was  there in 20 minutes.  Help!  We need more cabs. 

Almost No Women are Driving Taxis in Seattle

A recent Seattle Times article concerning gender disparity in local occupations displayed what has become too obvious: there are maybe two women driving taxi now in Seattle and King County.  And who can blame them, clear targets for any fool out there.  I have been groped and grabbed more times than I can remember by both men and women but dogs jumping on my lap searching for a snack are okay. Where is our complaint line?  Can we call the groper's mother and tell them what their son or daughter has just done to us in our cab?

42,915 USA Traffic Deaths in 2021

Yes, that is a 16-year high, up 10.5% from 2020 when 38,824 died from automobile accidents. The figure will probably be revised upward.  What is the average speed on I-5 within Seattle?  70-80 miles per hour. The only time I see the Washington State Patrol is when when are at the aftermath of an accident, WSP enforcement spotty at best. 

PS 05/24/22, 5:21 PM:  This morning, at 5:00 AM, on I-5 southbound, a two car accident occurred on the Ship Canal Bridge, closing the southbound freeway for three hours.  What makes this most unusual is that one of the involved drivers fell off of the roadway to the water many feet below, which is why I am mentioning it.  The accident was caused by a DUI driver hitting a stalled car in the middle lane.  Further investigation found that the driver of the stalled vehicle was struck by his own car and ejected over the railing to his death.  His body has been recovered from the canal by divers.  The DUI driver has been charged with homicide.

It has become very dangerous, driving America's roads.  Be careful.

Slate Online Article: Uber Customers are Paying a lot more $$$$$

In a story talking about increased Uber rates, in the past six months, they have gone up 45-90 percent according to two somewhat competing reports.   Passengers are complaining about it to me but what can we do, we don't have enough cabs to properly cover the business we have.  I found a gentleman, a regular customer, waiting at a Safeway upon a Saturday afternoon nearly three hours before I took him and his groceries home, 12:30-3:30 PM.  It would be a great time for an advertising campaign but "no way Jose" can we do it now. 

My First New Camera Ticket

I got nicked $75.00 for being in the wrong lane on South-bound 99 at Galer Street.  The trap is simple.  The enforcement in confined to one lane both North and South of Galer.  The warning sign is small, blending into the background.  If this ain't entrapment I don't know the definition. 

I Have Lost my Bloody Mind!

It's true, I have reached my limit is appears, especially when I have reached exhaustion in the cab and no longer interested in tolerating insulting and stupid behaviors.  No, I am not dishonest or a thief.  Yes, I know the streets and routes better than you ever will.  And screw you, do have have to treat me and every other cabbie like shit and feel justified doing it?   

With a certain kind of customer, the derogatory behavior never ends.  I am not a human punching bag.  When not being disrespected, I can give you a great ride to where ever it is you are going.  Disrespect me, everything stops.  I will not be beat up mentally solely because someone thinks they can.  Well, they can't and that is the end of that story. 

Handing Out Masks Like Hotcakes

No, I am not cooking breakfast in the cab, only trying to keep myself and my dumbbell passengers alive.  I have a box of masks and the car doesn't move until your mask is on.  The older Florida couple, though reluctant, put on the mask given to them but once we reached the airport I saw that the husband had dropped his mask onto the roadway.  Thanks, A-Hole, for the gratitude!  Governor DeSantis would be proud. 

One million Americans dead from COVID-19.  Hey idiots, it ain't over!


Monday, May 16, 2022

My Open Letter To the California Public Utilities Commission & The Anatomy Of A Bizarre Official City Complaint: Anger Misdirected & Stacy Memorial Date, Location And Time Confirmed & Let's Work The Victoria Clipper: 7 Out Of 8 Days I Go to Sea-Tac

 My Comment About Potential Robot SF Cab Service

As I wrote last week, I encourage everyone to send their opinion to the CPUC voicing your view about the pending General Motors Cruise Cab application to allow driverless taxis in San Francisco.   As I said, once it gets started, who knows where and when it will all end, with GM targeting other cities for its service.  It is a bad idea, as you will soon read.  Watch out for mindless bureaucracy.  They brought us Uber and Lyft.  Beware.

Dear California Public Utilities Commission----Subject: Autonomous Taxis, San Francisco

My primary question is, who among you will take responsibility for the first fatality stemming from driverless taxis plying the City of San Francisco's dangerously congested streets and highways, because it is going to happen, and my prediction is that within the first month of operation, people will die if GM's application is approved.  How will the driverless cab react when a speeding dump truck flies through a red light, smashing the car to smithereens?  That's all I want and need to know, who amongst your commission will be held accountable?  Will you be charged with manslaughter?  I think all of you should and will be charged, and rightfully so, well deserving if the commission decides it is good and correct to allow autonomous cars into the public sphere.  You would be creating an unnecessary and deadly scenario.  My advice: don't do it.  Thank you.


Again, here is how you can comment to the commission:  866-849-8390 & 

Odd  And Insulting  Anonymous Allegation Forwarded by the City & County

Last Thursday, after three days off, I had a message saying I had a City compliant to deal with.  Once at the PSD office, this is what I read, made by someone who remained nameless, anonymous, saying that on Sunday, April 22, 2022, at 7 PM,  they flagged (hailed) me on the street, went approximately 3/4 of a mile----Northgate Mall to 15th NE and Pinehurst Way, and during this three-minute ride I, one, was rude; two, I touched them inappropriately; and three, failed to provide a receipt.  As "she-who-can't-be-named" commented, "that was fast work," doing all that in a taxi blink-of-the-eye.  

As I quickly wrote in my response, I had no idea what this was about, having not picked up someone flagging off the street nor having done anything stated in the complaint.  While I can be grumpy, I am never unkind.  As to any physical contact with passengers, I avoid that while discouraging contact initiated by them.  Sometimes they want to shake my hand but that's all I allow.  And I keep paper receipts on hand, as my blue tooth printer sometimes doesn't work, and I spent $75.00 at Fed EX having some printed up.  You want a receipt, I have one for you.

But it is a good question as to why someone would make an erroneous and spurious complaint, something designed to hurt me.  Through the course of 34 plus years, I have had perhaps 10 complaints lodged, alleging behaviors that I have beat them up, stole items etc, all of them appearing to have the same source: anger, somehow having made them angry, causing an urge for revenge.  Given that I have a lifelong credo of never wanting to harm anyone, backed up by my November 1972 CO/1-0 SS Draft Exemption, I nonetheless appear to piss some people off by insisting I remain in control of what happens in the cab at all times, obviously professionally responsible for what is a regulated and licensed service.  Drunks especially resent my stance.    

But as to why this complaint was made, ultimately I can't tell you.  I can only guess.  Given its anonymous nature, it could have been made by another motorist I somehow offended.  Almost everyday now I am dealing with some version of road-rage incident, both mild and serious.  As I have noticed, the color yellow is often like red to a bull, provoked by the mere waving of the taxi cape.  Again, I make every effort to conduct myself professionally with each and every passenger.   To do otherwise is both contrary to my nature, and suicidal, the cab driver every much in the public focus and eye. 

While understanding that complaints should be examined, this kind of false allegation leaves me feeling vulnerable and unprotected, a reality that all cabbies will relate to.  Cab drivers are pretty much on their own, subject to wind, rain and the uncensored opinion of anyone out there who wants to provide it.  Taxi can be scary, and the kind of allegations made in this complaint underlines that reality: you are alone and there is rarely anyone there to help you.  Yes, vulnerability with every mile we drive, that's what we face and the life we live.  If it wasn't for the freedom and money, you'd have to be nuts to do this.  And that, my friends, is the god awful and honest truth. 

Stacy Anderson Memorial

Everyone is welcomed by Stacy's sister Wendy to the memorial June 5th, Sunday, 1:00 PM at Hamlin Park, 16006 15th NE, Shoreline, WA.  See you there!

Com' on, Everybody, Let's work the Victoria Clipper

Yes, everyday this Spring and Summer, at 7:45 PM, at Pier 69, cabs will be and are needed.  What a percentage!  Eight days I have worked the boat and seven times off to Sea-Tac.  Get down there!  Do it!  We need the Clipper covered. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Seattle Cabbies Happy To Have The Cruise Ships Back & Where Is the Passenger Waiting? "Round The Boat" & Soon To Be Driverless Autonomous Cabs In San Francisco? & The Stories I Hear & A New Dispatch App Might Be Available This Year

Only Three of the Seven Deadly Sins

Getting an earlier start Saturday morning, I came across more "working" cabs than I have seen in weeks, cavorting it appeared between downtown and Pier 91, the Port of Seattle cruise ship terminal, ever so happy that two imaginary taxi Golden Geese were floating mere feet from each other, each disembarking passenger a potential fare to the moon.  Like taxi mayflies, there they were and then instantly they were gone, the later afternoon and evening hours left bereft of cabs, leaving it to me and a handful of other cabbies to service the tsunami of fares overwhelming the city and county, wave after wave inundating Yellow's BID screen and hotels and downtown streets.  

Not pleased but finding the taxi miscreants guilty of only three of the worst of the seven deadly sins---greed for their preference only working when its fat; sloth, because they are lazy as hell; and wrath because they could care "a rat's ass" about all those customers waiting deep into night for the never arriving cab.  And giving their collective sins a Roman Catholic definition---Cardinal they are, Crimson and Red upon the taxi day and night---Satan smiling a knowing grin, the bad cabbies punching empathy in the chin, knocking taxi for the proverbial loop, down we go, stiff and prone unconscious upon the asphalt street.

Where was the customer waiting?

Comical, the message on my screen stating that the passenger was waiting "round the boat" when instead it was the "roundabout."  Yellow's dispatch is now internally nautical, water upon the taxi brain.  And oh, by the way, it was another no-show. 

General Motors Cruise Driverless Taxis

Is science fiction coming to San Francisco?  Possibly, as the California Public Utilities Commission is considering GM's application to begin daily operation of driverless cabs.  Crazy but true but there is something helpful you can do: comment.  You have until June 5th, 2022. 

Call 866-849-8390

CPUC Public Advisor's Office, 505 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102

How does this apply to you?  Because your city could be next.

Tragic Stories

The woman from Florida was in Renton visiting her now severely injured son who was struck by an uninsured driver in Tacoma last October.  Unrepairable brain injuries and multiple right side fractures means he will never walk or function normally again.  What are the local authorities doing to the driver: nothing. 

Picking up a woman at Harborview Hospital, she said her husband was just reaching for something when he heard a pop go off in his body.  Soon thereafter, as he began losing sensation in his body, he was medevaced to Seattle, suddenly near death. The verdict: a severed spinal cord. Alive but now paraplegic. 

It Might not be Mere Fantasy 

Possibly coming the Seattle cab driver's way will be an app dispatch system called Netcar.  It might be true and it might be nationwide.  Stay tuned. 


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Five Alarm Emergency---A Matter Of Life And Breath: The Consequences Of Not Enough Cabs And An Outsourced Dispatch & Stacy Anderson's SeattleTimes Obituary & Hitting The Victoria Clipper Jackpot----Four Days, Four Sea-Tacs & It Always Concludes With "You Faggot!" & Is The City Of Seattle Guilty Of Entrapment?

Is it going to take someone's death to gain the City of Seattle and King County's Regulatory attention? 

How long will it take for everyone involved in the local taxi industry, with regulators like the City and County, and taxi associations like Yellow (PSD) and Farwest, to realize we have entered a kind of emergency mode---the house is on fire---and by delaying quick response, someone might actually die.  While some might find this an exaggeration, there is a setting precedent as years ago, when Yellow served as the Puget Sound Blood Bank's primary courier, a driver's failure to deliver a stat blood order resulted in the death of a patient waiting on the operating table, the driver leaving the undelivered blood packages in his cab.  

Obviously then, when a request is made for a cab, that cab should arrive but when it doesn't, there are always consequences ranging from simple inconvenience to missed flights and potentially even worse results, whatever that event might be.  I say this because while driving Friday night, a sequence of two fares scared the hell out of me, underlining just how far Seattle's taxi service has veered out-of-control, both impacting and endangering our customers to the point that something needs to quickly change, minus excuse and hubris.  This is what happened at about 9:40 PM, Friday night, April 29th:

As has been happening recently at night, wave after wave of fares inundate our taxi landscape. While impressive, having all these waiting fares sitting upon the BID/Prospect screen, it is also both depressing and overwhelming simply because there are not enough drivers working to keep up with the demand, resulting with passengers waiting for extended periods, and now too often, that cab never arriving.  

As best as I can, I attempt to prioritize medical and hospital fares, fully understanding how necessary it is to attend to ill and medically-compromised passengers.  Spotting a fare located at the University of Washington Medical Center, I accepted it and called the listed telephone number, the fare nearly two hours old.  No answer, so I waited a couple of minutes then called again, and yet another no response.  Of course normally the accepted routine is to check out the fare regardless but given # One, how old it was, # Two, no response to my calls, and # Three, given the level of waiting calls, it not making sense to devote 15-20 minutes to what it appeared to be an obvious no-show.  Why waste time when there's no time to waste?

Another part of this is that PSD's outsourced Philippine-based dispatch doesn't keep track of the calls as a normal dispatch would,  or should do, allowing countless fares to "die-upon-the-vine," hurting both cab driver and customer.  Regular professional cab dispatching "babysits" the calls, making sure every waiting passenger gets their cab.  This is not currently occurring at the Cebu callcenter/switchboard.  Fares come in, many through our app, and there they sit, served only by chance, not by design. 

Given these circumstances, thinking that the UWMC customer wasn't there, I took another fare, this time at Children's Hospital, finding I had a rush fare to the airport paid by Children's, transporting a father and his disabled teenage daughter to Sea-Tac.  Due to cancelled flights, they had to be on the next 12:30 AM flight to Anchorage, Alaska or finding themselves stranded in Seattle until Tuesday.  

And wouldn't I know it, as I am heading to that fare, the guy waiting two hours now calls me back.  I told him I was sorry, that since he hadn't answered his telephone, I had taken another call, and this is when he scared me, saying he was running out of oxygen after being discharged from the hospital.  Upset with me, he hung up but I called dispatch and had them re-bell his call.  

Proceeding on to Children's, I picked up the father and his daughter, and checking the screen, it appeared that the UWMC passenger had gotten his cab, or least I certainly hoped so, angry that I (or any other cabbie) had been put in this kind of "life and death" position because, as I have been pointing out to everyone I can think of, is that Yellow's taxi service, especially at night, has become precarious and unreliable, "hit and miss"  at best to the point that it is simply dumb luck if a passenger is picked up.  Yes, calling a cab in Seattle and King County is now a new kind of lottery, never knowing if you will win or lose.

All I can hope, in writing this description of "terror in the night," is that it prompts some kind of positive response toward addressing an issue rapidly becoming dangerous to our customer base.  However the change occurs, two points are clear: we need more working cabs while also requiring a real and professional dispatch responsive to the calls.  Neither is true at this juncture in taxi time.  

And if the Puget Sound Board of Directors (the owners of PSD), refuse to return dispatch to the USA, the City and County should force them to sell to someone who will operate a Seattle-based 24/7 hour dispatch operated by taxi professionals.  Enough of this total nonsense.   

As I said, if this continues, someone might get seriously hurt or die.  And who will be held accountable if the very worst occurs?  That's the question no one wishes to answer.  

Stacy Anderson Update

Stacy's memorial is scheduled for Sunday, June 5th, at Hamlin Park, Shoreline, Washington, 16006 15th Ave. NE.  Tentative start time is 1:00 PM.  You will find all updated info here.

Stacy's obituary appeared in the Seattle Times print edition Saturday April 30th, 2022.  A longer version can be found online.   Go to Seattle Times Obituaries and search for recent obits.  Enter Stacy Anderson's name and it will come right up.  You can leave comments on his guestbook, something I encourage everyone to do.

As to the GoFundMe campaign, to this date $720. has been donated.  Total cost incurred by his family so far are $1,874.  That means an additional $1,154 is needed.

Lots of Good Fares at the Pier 69 Victoria Clipper

I have worked the Clipper four times. On each occasion I went to Sea-Tac.  We need to cover the Clipper. Comes in at 7:45 PM.  On Sunday there were 440 passengers.  As I was pulling up, I watched two Yellow cabs drive by, not understanding that the Clipper was mere minutes from unloading.  Ya gotta be smarter is all I can say.  Wake up and smell the $$$$$!

And, by the way, I called dispatch Sunday and said, please, put out the message that we need more cabs. The operator refused, saying no cabs were available, and hung up.  Nice response, don't ya think?

Strange and Stranger

I pulled up to a DT hotel with two older women passengers I had picked up at the train station.  What was both odd and strange is that an African-American kid, in his early 20s, someone totally unknown to them, grabbed one of the women in an affectionate embrace. Very weird!  And then he gets into my cab.  He says he going to pick up a girl and get some food, wanting to go to some club on Thomas Street.  I ask where on Thomas, a street running west to east from the Puget Sound to Lake Washington.  He then keeps repeating, "you know where Thomas is?" again and again, prompting me to invite him out of the cab.   And like too many of his similar brothers, upon exiting, he leaves the cab door open shouting "You faggot!" something I have experienced multiple times.  Will this happen again?   I kinda think so.  

And oh, one of my many addresses in Seattle, this one from 1977: 609 East Thomas.  Yeah, I know the street.

City of Seattle's Poor Signage 

Beware of the intersection of 5th and Olive downtown Seattle.  Going southbound on 5th there is a "blocking the lane" camera.  And eastbound on Olive Way, there is a "don't be in the bus lane" camera.  Both warning signs are very nondescript, small, rectangular signs, black lettering upon a white background  blending easily into the surrounding environment.  Making the signage even more questionable is that turning left on Olive from 5th, the warning sign for the bus lane is pointing west, away from the turning driver.  Is all this intentional?  Or is Seattle like I usually describe it?  "Dumbbell City."