Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Was Donald Trump A Crazed Passenger?

Did Mr. Trump Emulate Some of my Worst Customers?

It possibly could be true, given today's testimony at the Jan 6th Congressional hearings that Trump, enraged he was being driven back to the White House on Jan 6th, and not the Capitol Building, grabbed for the driver's steering wheel while lunging at this own secret service agent.  Having not once but twice experienced similar behavior in the cab, both time involving "drunk as a skunk" passengers, I find it interesting that a "sitting American president" would resort to some of the more egregious and out-of-control behavior imaginable.  

The first time a passenger grabbed my steering wheel, he nearly put us in a head on collision on the old First South Bridge.  The second incident involved this huge "walking refrigerator" of a drunk who leaned over, gripping the wheel.  I then told him how embarrassing it would be for him to be beat up by someone as small as me (I'm almost 5' 9").  

I would enjoy hearing from NYC cabbies who over the years have provided rides to the then New York City native future president.  I would probably be amazed one way or the other.   Is Trump a good tipper unlike the even richer Bill Gates?   While Trump is crass, insensitive, rude and insolent, he isn't smug which means be might tip 25 %.  One could hope.  Deep down, Trump wants everyone to like him.  As for Mister Gates, he couldn't give a damn, Trump only interested in ruling America, while Gates wants the entire world to be his kingdom, not just Medina, Washington.  Think big, not small.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The City Of Seattle Now Says That The Local Gasoline Average Of $5:50 Per Gallon Means You Can Now Add A $1.50 Surcharge To Each Fare & Washington State Gasoline Tax & New Puget Sound Owner/Operator Contract & The Unprotected Seattle/King County Cab Driver

How the New City of Seattle Greenish-Yellow Placard Reads:

Fuel Surcharge

                    A temporary fuel surcharge of $1.50 per 

                    trip, for all trips beginning in the city of 

                    Seattle, will be added to the taximeter fare or

                    airport flat rate due to recent increases in

                    fuel prices (SMC 6.310.530F).

Seattle Taxicab____________


Everyone is supposed to post this near the meter, informing the passenger of the new but temporary rate increase.  The City of Seattle has a threshold of anything over $5.50 per gallon and you get the extra fee.  But will anyone really charge it?  

I know I won't because I never charge for extra passengers or for toll bridge charges.  Why?  I simply don't care, finding I more than make it up in tips.  And again, I simply don't care about nickels and dimes, more interested in Fifties and Hundreds, those Grants and Franklins making a strong impression.   I am far more interested in Seattle regulating taxi associations and strengthening driver rights than paltry fare increases.  But that isn't going to happen today, tomorrow or ten years from now.  You can quote me.

WA State Has the Third Highest Gas Taxi in the USA: 49 cents per gallon

Which explains why Seattle gasoline prices are near the highest in the country.  Governor Inslee says he isn't interested in any "gas holiday" for WA ST residents, even though the state just announced an unexpected $1.46 billon revenue increase for the 2021-2023 period.  He is already thinking about how to spend the money.  How nice, our personal budgets in a vise but Christ does Inslee care, prowling the local economy like a hungry bear?

New Yellow Cab Driver Contract

Not much new other than the new rate of $195.00 embedded in the contract plus a $50. weekly airport fee for cabs working Sea-Tac and $100.00 for WAT Sea-Tac cabs.  The contract also says that all drivers must process all credit card charges through the MTI system.  Since most are not currently doing that, this might make for an interesting argument.  Most of the language is basic but many might want to read the "fine print" and provide comment. 

Let the Wind Blow: No Shelter for the Local Cabbie

While some might find the fuel surcharge a kind of new recognition directed toward the Seattle taxi driver, I see it as more bureaucratic paper pushing than anything providing real regulatory or statutory protection for the owner operators, all of us subject to the whims of association authority.  One bandaid does not stem the bleeding.  The best part of this "hands off approach" though is that, short of murder, no one is going to bother you much at all.  Ah yes, the mixed blessing that is taxi.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Puget Sound Dispatch Rate Increase & Shenanigans At Pier 69 Victoria Clipper & New MV (Metro Access) Contract & Is Auto Driving Really Safe? & Fiasco At P-91 & Is Everyone Going To The Tulalip Casino?

Beginning July 3rd,2022,  Puget Sound Dispatch Fee Increases By $15.00, 

Yes, the first rate increase in 21 years is coming to PSD (Seattle Yellow Taxi) on Monday, July 3rd, 2022, marking an 8.33 percent increase, going from $180.00 to $195.00.  The reason for this is, as PSD costs have risen, revenue from owner operators have decreased due to a lower number of working cabs.  Back in 2014, when Yellow was the BYG Co-op, there were nearly Yellow 550 cabs plying the streets, bringing in big revenue numbers for the co-op.  Of course, those halcyon days are now long gone, along with all those lease drivers providing day and night shift coverage, with now maybe 240 Yellow cabs currently working, all this translating into less money to cover PSD's operational and employee costs.  Seattle's office and local dispatching has been greatly reduced, and as we all know, the 24/7 dispatch/callcenter is now nearly 8000 miles away in the Philippines.  Nothing good but that is the current reality.

All these changes have been dictated by reduced revenue.  If we were back to 500 or more cabs, many of the issues we are seeing would not be occurring but the reality is that many owners have decided to either drive for Uber or do something else entirely.  And is the City/County doing anything to ensure that medallion owners are back on the streets, using their medallions for what they were issued for?  No. 

But let me remind everyone that the history of all this goes back to 2014 when the City of Seattle and King County decided that Uber and Lyft could have as many operators as they wanted, thus flooding the transportation market with a then much cheaper competitor.  While the PSD Board of Directors, Lema, David Friend and company are no saints, the blame for taxi's current state of affairs falls directly upon political players like Sally Clark, Ed Murray, Dow Constantine, Sally Bagshaw, Bruce Harrell and the many others who embraced Uber's unfettered entry into our marketplace.  They are the ones responsible for this dispatch fee increase.  And do they care?  Of course they don't!  

Did they care back in 2014 when they nearly killed the local cab industry?  Of course not!  And that, my fellow suffers beneath the top-light, is just the way it is.  Cry and moan but our industry is bare to the bone.  And we, without support, are all alone.

Trouble Brewing at Pier 69

Minor criminality is overtaking the transportation services operating on Port of Seattle property that serves as the Victoria Clipper's port of entry.  Over the past couple of weeks, unscrupulous cabbies and TNC (Uber/Lyft) drivers are both refusing "short trips" and soliciting long ones, disrupting what should be a simple process of picking up passengers disembarking from the Clipper.  Telling them to stop, as I have, has done nothing to impede their behavior.  Why listen to me, is their response, knowing I can't arrest them.  I have notified the City and County, requesting their intervention while also informing the Port of Seattle about this egregious behavior but so far, no enforcement has occurred.   As I told the regulators, the biggest issue is the non-insurance coverage when a TNC driver picks up off the street minus the Uber or Lyft app.  This kind of behavior is endangering the innocent.  Will the City or the County or the Port intervene?  I have no idea but given past experience, it is doubtful.

New MV Contract Approved by Drivers

Drivers working the MV account will now get $3.15 per mile, a $3.00 drop, a $15.00 surcharge for West Seattle trips, wait time, and mileage adjustment when necessary.  And if you work three straight months serving the account, you will get a $500.00 bonus.  All this is wonderful news!   Thanks, PSD, for making this happen.

Safety of Tesla Autopilot Questioned

The Federal Government is authorizing more thorough investigation whether Tesla's self-driving system is truly safe.   Nine people have died while using Tesla's automated system, resulting in deeper scrutiny of claims that it is perfectly safe.  Like the potential self-driving taxis in San Francisco, companies like General Motors and Tesla seem to be putting profits before customer and public safety.  Some people want to believe that technology is better than the human brain.  I for one disagree.  What creates technology?  Why, the human brain of course.

PS---A Washington post article published in today's online edition, June 15th, states that Tesla's Autopilot in the past year has been involved in 273 crashes.  Not good. 

The Holland America Line Took Their Luggage

The couple from Arizona's dream cruise to Alaska sank into the Puget Sound when Holland America's own airport shuttle got them late to the ship, with staff refusing to accept their COVID-19 tests, telling them to go away while their luggage sailed up north without them.  There they were, stuck on the pier, no change of clothes, nothing but a stern "F_ _k You!" from the cruise line staff.  The wife was in tears.  Who can blame her?  They did nothing wrong but still, there they were, abandoned on the pier.

Is Gambling This Popular?

Three weeks in a row, I have taken passengers up to Marysville and the Tulalip Tribe casino.  It is a one hundred dollar plus ride.  I'm glad to take them but is it really worth the time and money?  To these folks it must be.  All I can say is, good luck!

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Directing Criticism Correctly & Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 6.310.710: Open Hunting Season Upon Seattle's Cab Drivers---No License Required & Bogus Benjamin Franklins

Chastening the Bitter Tongue

Easy to carp, easy to shake the finger at concerning almost anything but when issuing a blanket criticism as I did last week, I should be cognizant that some might not appreciate my lashing tongue, all the while doing the best they can under difficult circumstances.  I say this in recognition regarding my friends and colleagues running the day to day operations at Puget Sound Dispatch and their good work maintained while burdened by budgetary constraints placed by PSD ownership.  That they remain at PSD is both a mystery and blessing.  I thank them for keeping the taxi ship afloat.  

Does SMC 6.310-710 Make Any Sense?: Allegations Made Minus Consequence 

Did you know that anyone, anywhere in the world, be you in France or India, can call the City/County Taxi Complaint line and anonymously say anything you want about any Seattle and King County cabbie, and despite its veracity one way or the other, make life miserable for the driver minus consequence and accountability?   Yes, it's true, the City/County not requiring you to leave your name and contact information.  You can smear the driver, say he raped or tried to kill you and, without any ability to respond to your accuser, you are forced to defend yourself.  

What we are seeing here is a poorly conceived code that puts the entire onus upon the cabbie, essentially saying you are guilty until proving yourself innocent.  While driver accountability is necessary and good, there must be written into the code a better verification process recognizing that all allegations must first be vetted before notifying the driver.  

An important part of this process would be to tell anyone filing a complaint that they too could be held legally liable, and subject to defamation and libel suits.  If upon signing a formal written complaint, then, and then only, should the complaint be issued.  Otherwise, anyone can call and say I poured catsup and mustard over their head, saying I thought they were an Oscar Meyer wiener.   Yes, no matter how absurd the allegation, the City/County says it's okay, slander away.   Why not, they say, why not?

Bad 100 Dollar Bills

During the past month, I have come across two counterfeit one hundred dollar bills.  When paid with a big bill, hold it up to a light and look for the image of good, old Ben to the right of the seal.  If not there, it ain't good.