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."