Wednesday, July 27, 2022

With The Meter Running, My Passenger Goes Into The Store To Shoplift & A Surprise Airport Run, Not To Sea-Tac But Paine Field! & He Said, "You Made Me "Eat Crow"

The Taxi Getaway Car

Telling a passenger about this incident, I told her that if I drove for one thousand years, I'd still be encountering unique situations totally new to me.  Why that's true is simply the innate nature of the beast, as each new fare introducing yet another living and breathing member of that strange clan: the homo-sapiens.  As though much has changed since our first relatives exited the primordial ooze, billions of years later things unfortunately remain un-evolved, with our walking and talking modern humans little better than that first fish who decided to take a terrestrial stroll, light a cigarette and marvel at those dinosaurs dancing through time.  

The young woman on 26th East loaded my cab with too many huge bulging bags of dirty clothes and blankets and pillows, her intent being a ride to a local laundromat but first she need detergent, making the 22nd & East Madison Safeway her first destination.  Asking why she didn't instead choose a closer store, she said Safeway had what she needed, that turning into a truer statement than I could have imagined.  

Parked across from the main entrance, her quick excursion became five dollars, ten dollars, fifteen dollars as the meter ticked away.  Relieved to see her finally exit the store, she was suddenly confronted by three security staff, blocking her way, accusing her of taking items minus payment.  First denying the allegations, she decided it better to cooperate, with all of them reentering the Safeway.  Quickly following,  I demanded and received my $15.00 while promising to return all her clothes back to the beginning.  Back at the house, no one was pleased to hear the sad story, remarking that she was someone her brother brought in, and not welcomed in any real way.  Yeah, look what the "cat dragged in."

My immediate reaction was disgust, not liking my time wasted.  And if you are going make me party to an ongoing crime, shouldn't I get some percentage of the take?  Just make sure the soap is biodegradable.

Airport North, not South

I have always wondered if it would ever happen, getting an airport run not to Sea-Tac but to that other airport operating at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, and on a sunny Saturday morning, that's exactly what happened, the woman's Alaska Airline flight to San Francisco originating there.   With tip, the fare was $65.00, and curious, I escorted my passenger into the beautiful terminal welcoming all those interested in avoiding Sea-Tac International.  Yes, I was able to park the cab in the departure lane and not get screamed at.  Southwest Airlines I was told will be returning to serve Paine Field sometime soon, this new airport perhaps a better alternative for those living in north King County.  Traffic was a breeze!

And He Once Drove Cab in Savannah, Georgia 

The guy was trouble immediately, and I told him so, telling him he was a bit crazy, and unless he stopped mouthing off, I was pulling over and letting him out.  Curtailing his antics, he began telling me about his six years driving cab in tourist Georgia.  Dropping him off at his University District job site, and coming around to my door, he angrily announced that I had made him "eat crow."  My quick response was "I am a veteran cab driver and I don't take anything from anyone."  As a former cabbie, he should have known, and knew that my requests to him wasn't personal, only wishing him to shut up so I could get him to where he needed to be.  Let the driver drive is what I repeatedly say.  And it's true, behave in the back seat, and I'll get you there quick, guaranteed! 

And if you somehow need to be crazy, do it before entering the cab, getting it out of your system. I am your driver, not your psychiatrist.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Instead Of A Taxicab, Boeing Wants To Take You Downtown In An All-Electric, Self-Flying Pilotless Air Taxi & Where Did Destiny Go? & Twice On Sunday, Drivers Tried To Kill Me

Are eVTOL Electric Flying Cars Your Future Urban Taxicab?  

Yes, it's true, Boeing, in partnership with Wisk Helicopter Company, has developed an autonomous vertical take-off and landing fling machine dubbed the Cora, and sometime in the near future, it might do what standard cabs can never do: fly you over the traffic to your local downtown, bypassing all the vehicles jammed up on the freeways, freeing you like some kind of human bird taking you to your urban nest.  I recommend watching the videos at https://wisk.areo.  And Cora is painted yellow, just like its earthbound brethren.   Whether this happens anytime soon, I can't tell you, but unlike the flying cars in the  cartoon "Jetsons," there is the real issue of air traffic control and how to manage low altitude flying objects.  Wisk says Cora is safe, 1,500 test flights later.  Who wants to be a cab driver when Cora is around winking at you?

Women Continue to be Trafficked on Aurora Avenue North

Last week on a warm July evening there must have been 30 or more hookers walking on the west side of Aurora between North 95th and North 140th, almost all new faces.  What this tells me is what the City of Seattle continues to ignore: these women are being shuttled from city to city, trafficked by pimps.  And who was Destiny and where is she now?

Destiny (not her real name) was a young Turkish sex worker who I transported a few times from a seedy motel to a MacMansion in Redmond, Washington.  This big house had a big water fountain in the driveway.  On our rides we would talk about Istanbul, having been there  twice in 1999.  I never inquired about how she got involved in the sex trade.  But suddenly she was gone, alive, dead, I will never know.    Allowing this bullshit to continue is immoral.  Nothing more to be said.  God Damn! it needs to stop!

2 Near Serious Accidents

The first fool flew blindly out into the street, and without my quick reaction, I wouldn't be here typing. With my cab sideways, the idiot acted like he had done nothing wrong but my leaping out shouting got his immediate attention as he roared off.  When you almost kill me I expect some kind contrition, damn you!

The second incident, which would have smashed my driver-side door, appropriately occurred at the University of Washington Medical Center ER, when, as I was pulling out of the circular driveway, this huge out-of-service ambulance made straight for me, disregarding my right-of-way.  Slamming the brakes, I survived.  Looking on the bright side, I was mere feet way from medical care.  Lucky me!

Thursday, July 14, 2022

The Uber Files: Analysis And Explanation---124,000 Company Documents Revealed---Criminality And Political Influence

 Thank You, Mark MacGann

On July 11th, the British newspaper, The Guardian, released a grand expose, what they call The Uber Files, detailing over a six-year period what Uber did to expand its transportation universe, using every tactic legal or otherwise to guarantee its success across the planet.  And the individual who leaked these many hitherto secret and concealed details is Mark MacGann, someone who served as Uber's chief lobbyist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa from 2014-16.  

I encourage everyone to view the 11:22 minute long interview with MacGann and a Guardian reporter.  I found it on the online edition of the Washington Post but where ever you find it, you will hear astounding admissions by someone once extremely important to the Uber hierarchy.  It's clear that MacGann didn't know what he had signed up for when he joined Uber.  With his current actions, he seems to present it as a kind of atonement for sins not totally of his own making.  It is a remarkable interview.  I also strongly encourage everyone to read the Uber Files for yourselves, and not depending solely upon my brief overview for the complete story.  There is much to know.

All this of course, Uber's incursion into the global taxi industry, is very personal, as I witnessed firsthand the City of Seattle's capitulation to Uber.  I raised the alarm but I was ignored.  When I wrote to one local Seattle Times columnist suggesting that something very fishy was occurring, to please investigate Mayor Ed Murray and his sudden welcoming of Uber, I was treated as some variety of crank, someone delusional and out of my mind.  Well guess what folks, The Uber Files provide a bit of vindication.  There was nasty stuff going on.

In the beginning, Uber entered the majority of its target markets illegally, intent upon destroying local taxi companies.  And to do this, they raised tens of billions of dollars from Wall Street investors to fund and subsidize their initial operations, targeting markets across the planet, CEO Travis Kalanick, aiming, like some new transportation version of Napoleon, to take over the known world.  

Lobbyist mark MacGann, fueled by all that money, had easy access to the world's political and financial leaders.  At the World Economic Forum held at Davos, Switzerland, Uber met with many important folks including Emmanuel Macron, Joe Biden, Irish Prime Minister Edna Kenny, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and with George Osborne, then UK Chancellor and six other Tory Cabinet Ministers.  Many of these contacts were done in secret, unknown until now.  The Washington Post features a photograph with a smiling Mark MacGann and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.  

And not stopping there, Uber made deals with the world's underbelly, cutting investment deals with Putin's good buddies, various Russian oligarchs.  All of this orchestrated by Kalanick, not caring about consequences, and if Uber drivers were attacked and beaten by angry cabbies, "Violence guarantees success!" was his response.  

Further payments went to prominent academics to produce dubious research supporting Uber's economic benefits.  And when authorities raided Uber headquarters in France, Holland, Belgium, India, Hungary and Romania, Uber had a "kill switch" shutting down all their computers, hiding all incriminating evidence. 

I hope this quick synopsis gets you interested in reading more.  Uber wasn't nice, and is that truly new to anyone paying attention?  No is the answer. 


Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Uber's 2019-20 Sexual Assault And Traffic Deaths: Alarming & How Yellow's 4-4 Shifts Served Local Ridership & Traffic Jams In London & GM Driverless Cruise Cars Block San Francisco Streets & First Long Fare Of The Year: Ephrata, Washington & Avoid Seattle's Municipal Court's Online And Telephone Hearings

Is it Wise or Safe for any Woman to Ride Solo in an Uber App-Assigned Vehicle? 

Last week, Uber released 2019-20 statistics stating that, for that two year period, sexual assaults were down 38 %, 3,824 compared to the 5,981 incidents reported in the 2017-18 time period.  This is an improvement?  Uber said they had 141 penetration rapes and 998 sexual assaults in 2020.  Why is this happening?  Maybe due to the type of applicant drawn to Uber.

During the 2019-20 time period, 500,000 prospective drivers failed criminal background checks, with an additional 80,000 drivers removed after deeper scrutiny of who they were.  And this is the company that was welcomed by every city in America?  Pretty crazy, and disappointing.  

And when Uber drivers aren't doing something awful to their passengers, they are crashing their cars.  I haven't found Uber's accident statistics but 101 people were killed in car accidents. 

Only using my over three decade long experience in Seattle/King County's taxi industry as a record of events, we have had almost no fatal car accidents or rapes during all these years of millions of taxi rides.  Uber and Lyft have been operational now for about 10 years in Seattle/KC.  It would be interesting to know the parallel statistics taxi vs TNC.  

What is the primary difference between taxi and Uber/Lyft?  Taxi drivers are strictly regulated and the TNC drivers are not.  Another factor is that our local Seattle taxi industry is operated by mostly people raising families, individuals very much interested in the success of their children in this great land of opportunity called the United States of America.  Many TNC drivers are instead single, young men who are still forging and creating personal identity, this fact unfortunately perhaps making them vulnerable to worst instincts.  Local cabbies I know are then more purposeful, that trait translating into a better kind of professionalism not always connected to the average TNC driver.  While taxi certainly has its issues, many of which I shout about, it is a better choice for a safer and saner ride to where ever the passenger might be going, hopefully a version of Heaven, not Hell. 

The Good, Old Days of Defined Shifts

Before Uber nearly destroyed the taxi business model, at least in Seattle you were reliably assured to be getting a cab 24 hours a day anytime you needed one.  Why was that true?   Because the Yellow fleet had over 550 cabs operating 24/7 in two very defined 12 hour day and night shifts.  And the shifts, 4 AM to 4 PM, and 4 PM to 4 AM, recognized business reality, day shifts getting the early morning airport runs, while nightshift serving the crazily busy bar rushes.  All the cabbies made money and all the passengers got their cabs.  But now, since those kinds of shifts have disappeared, so has the reliability, leaving customers stranded all over the city and county.   Logically, we need some kind of limited return to the shift model.  Otherwise, 1-2 hours wait times will remain commonplace.  And that's not good, no, not at all. 

Traffic Reality in London, UK

Traffic in one of the world's biggest city is always bad but a nationwide transit strike on Tuesday June 21st, 2022, created untenable jams.  In a June 22nd NY Times article reported by Mark Landler and Eshe Nelson, they quote a London cabbie who knows all about London's traffic:

"Abraham Aris Ryan, 56, who has driven a London taxi for more than 20 years, said, "It's an absolute headache.  A fare you'd normally do in just 20 minutes is more than double that now.  I'm having to tell people I just can't get them there."

Ah, yes, the joys of driving cab, London, Seattle, everywhere. 

General Motors Cruise Cars Block San Francisco Streets

Thanks to my buddy Jake in San Francisco/Berkeley, he alerted me to new problems associated with the upcoming rollout of GM's driverless taxis in San Francisco.  Yes, that's correct, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last month approved GM's application to have cabs minus human drivers operate in the "Golden Gate City."  But given what happened on June 28th and 29th, official protests are being voiced after twenty GM Cruise driverless cars stood motionless for two hours at the intersection of Gough & Fulton Streets.  A little bit later, on June 29th at 12:30 AM, four Cruise cars sat idling at Fell & Masonic through multiple light cycles.  The twenty Cruise cars had to be removed by real human drivers.  So what happens if you get into one of these autonomous taxis late for an appointment and suddenly, it stops, what do you do?  Cry?  Scream?  Start walking?  

$477.20 Account Ride to Ephrata

My first long taxi fare of the year happened on Saturday, originating at University Hospital and up and over the Cascades on I-90 I went, then crossing the mighty Columbia River to the Grant County seat of Ephrata, WA.  What made this somewhat unusual is that it was an account meter run, and not a flat-rate generated fare, taking the passenger home after his two-week stay in the hospital.  After dropping him off at about 10:00 PM, in the darkened town I found Time Out Pizza, 1095 Basin Street SW, to still be open, and ordering a vegetarian pie to go.  Friendly place, and great food for the road.  Total drive time was 7 hours.  Cheapest gasoline I saw was $4.78.9 at George, Washington.  

I Just Paid the $75.00

Damn was it frustrating this morning, trying to do my 10 AM Seattle Municipal Court hearing over the telephone.  The recorded message was confusing, and once I got through, it was apparent I could be on the telephone for hours listening to all these cases heard before mine came up.  No thank you to that nightmare.  Whether guilty or not of being in a bus lane, I said "screw it" and paid over the telephone.  What a pain!