Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Per King County, Policy Changes For Seattle/King County Taxis And Flat-Rate For-Hire Vehicles

Proposed Changes for Seattle/King County Taxicab & For-Hire Industries

Beginning in January 2023, two new governing ordinances will be presented to both the Seattle City Council and the King County Council.  Instead of summarizing policy changes, I will provide most of the text of page two of King County's "Regulations and Notices Overview."   This is important information and I encourage everyone reading this to tell your friends and colleagues to read what I am presenting.  My goal here is to educate and inform.  Too often I hear the complaint that nobody tells us what is going on, taking on a kind of victimization.  If you tell your buddies to read this, then they cannot express any surprise.  While many don't seem to realize it, this blog is for you my fellow transportation professional.  Stay informed, stay empowered.  

I have made ten copies of the complete overview/update.  Ten lucky drivers will get one.  If you do, make copies and share.

From the Direct Text:

Earlier in 2022, the (WA) state legislature passed a bill adopting new state-wide transportation network company (TNC) regulations.  The bill permits the City and County to continue regulating TNCs but limits the ability of either government to update those regulations to address changes in the TNC (Uber/Lyft) industry, unless such changes align with state-wide TNC regulations.

As a result, the City and County now plan to each transmit two ordinances to the City Council and County Council no later than early 2023.   The first ordinance will amend existing City and County law to effectively remove taxicab and for-hire owners, drivers, and companies from the code. leaving in place the existing regulations on TNC's.  The second ordinance will establish a new chapter, in City and County codes respectively, focused on the taxicab and for-hire vehicle industries by doing the following to ease and streamline regulations:

1. Allow all medallions (City, County, and Dual) to operate throughout the region

2.  Transition all for-hire vehicles to taxicabs

3.  Adjust insurance requirements and adapt to a changing market and policy models

4.  Eliminate outdated operating requirements and align City and County requirements

5.  Establish a regional for-hire driver's license for taxicab and for-hire vehicle drivers, with an option to obtain an enhanced regional for-hire driver's license with the addition of a fingerprint-based Federal background check

6.  Require adoption of smart taximeters including integration with public facing regional trip planning tools, integrated payment processing, and authorizing greater use of dynamic fare setting

7.  Simplify enforcement and penalties and create a more coordinated appeals process

8.  Establish a uniform vehicle age limit of 15 years, lower the minimum for driver age from 21 to 20, and adjust maximum allowable driver operating hours

9.  Authorize the County to set a minimum fare for short trips, such as those from Sea-Tac Airport

10.  Establish certain vehicle owner and driver protections, including provisions for advanced notice of contract changes and the opportunity to provide input on agency policies that affect drivers

11.  Plan for the use of all electric vehicles (EVs) when technology and infrastructure make EVs viable for for-hire passenger transportation


Next week I will include the section including fee changes.  To send any comments about all this, use this email address: 

I encourage everyone to read through these eleven proposals carefully.  Read for hidden meaning.  These eleven items suggest a world of change is coming.  Much of all this is very taxicab friendly.  One change not listed here is the temporary suspension of taxi, for-hire vehicle and TNC vehicle age limit through June 30th, 2024.   That's very good news if you are still driving a Crown Victoria.

Big Bob Lives!

Recently I got a pleasant surprise when Bob (the famous Big Bob) said hello after dropping off at King Street Station in his E-Cab.  My friendship with Mister Big Bob dates from my earliest days as a cabbie, that is September 1987.   He said "You are still doing this?" and also made mention that back then many of our fellow cabbies thought I was a spy working for the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency).  I was still working my psych case management gig and seemed an unlikely cab driver.  Bob and I laughed but knowing Bob, he still might have doubts concerning all that, that I could really be a spy!   I assure you I'm not, only another deranged cabbie like the rest of us.  Ain't that reassuring?

Thursday, November 24, 2022

An Unavoidable Conclusion: It No Longer Makes Financial Sense To Operate A Taxi In Seattle---Uber Winning The Transportation Conversation!

I may be slow on the uptake, walking (or driving) in a self-induced haze but reality is what it is, and all of us driving taxi in Seattle are operating at a deficit, paying much more while getting far less versus Uber and Lyft, whose corresponding financial expenditures are negligible in comparison while their rates are higher.  Simple math tells the story, all adding up to what the hell am I doing driving a cab, paying a bunch a money for the privilege of wearing myself out to the bone?   Given my current insurance rates of $500.00 per month plus my weekly $195.00 dispatch fee, it all rounds out to the reality that I don't make a dime for myself until surpassing $1300.00 dollars.  Breaking that down to $30.00 per hour translates into about 43 hours of my time, which again roughly translates into nearly four 12-hour long days working "for the man" and not myself.  

Conversely, Uber and Lyft drivers pay almost nothing other than their personal car insurance costs, everything inclusively covered while carrying passengers minus their gasoline and car maintenance.  Yes, Uber and Lyft takes a portion of each ride but your personal outlay before that point is basically nothing, and nothing, my friends, is a good price versus whatever price the cabbie is paying.  And my initial outlay is less than what other cabbies pay.  A taxi buddy was paying $1,100 per month for insurance, meaning he had to earn $1900.00 dollars before seeing any money for himself, all this sobering when again positoned against Uber and Lyft expenditures. 

The question again then must be asked, what are we doing?   Are we fools?  The answer is fairly obvious. And another obvious reality is that the local taxi industry here in Seattle and King County was betrayed in 2014 by Seattle's then mayor working in conjunction with the Seattle City Council, and they in turn with the King County Executive and his King County Council.  The results, the verdict was victory for TNC and defeat for the cabs.

Uber and Lyft won then back in 2014 and continues to keep winning while we driving taxi have been shafted up the yin-yang.   As I said, reality is what it is and to refute reality is more than foolish, it's stupid.  Welcome to TAXI REALITY, Thanksgiving Day, 2022.  What are we?  We are a bunch of TAXI TURKEYS!  Gobble, gobble!  

Will President Biden grant us a Holiday pardon?  No, off with our heads!  We are dead! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Add Gasoline And Mix And Instantaneously You Are An Uber Or Lyft Operator

Add Fuel and Mix

And do you then self-immolate, a fiery exclamation point to bureaucratic folly, your instant transportation career now engulfed in flames?   Perhaps unfortunately not, because due to policies kissing Uber's backside, governments have stripped away any pretense of real regulation and oversight over who can, or cannot drive strangers on and over American roadways for monetary compensation    

I found this to be true after checking out Uber and Lyft's very simple online signup/application websites.  There is really nothing to it, you just put in your information and poof! almost instantaneously you can now ply the streets of Seattle or any other American regardless of real qualifications.  There appears to be only one standard: you are breathing and have a pulse.  That's it.  

And all you need for your background check is a social security number, whether it's yours or not, because there is absolutely no verification process saying you are who who say you are.  Fingerprinting, which would prove you are the real John Joseph Smith or Judy Agnes Johnson is no longer used.  Manufacture any and all documents and Uber and Lyft will never know the difference.  Worse, the municipal governments overseeing all this have decided to let the TNC companies to have nearly complete control over the process.  Unlike cabbies, you don't even need a physical for-hire license in your wallet, instead a TNC for-hire permit sticker is issued for your car.  

Thinking about it, with a fictional mind at work, one could imagine how a serial murderer or diabolical  poisoner (concentrating upon takeout food deliveries) could run amok, doing all kinds of nasty things, then suddenly disappearing minus anyone knowing the culprit's true identity.  Fiction unfortunately sometimes mimics real life and the many real safeguards and and preventative measures that could stop a deranged killer have vanished into governmental created thin air.  Better watch that next pizza delivery!

As I have reported in a recent post, in California, Uber is being allowed to deal with reported sexual assaults and rapes in-house, without first reporting the alleged crime to the local police.  Of course this isn't reasonable nor wise but this certainly haven't stopped governments from handing the enforcement keys over to Uber and Lyft, whose track record concerning corporate responsibility the past ten years has been abysmal, very less than stellar.  

This brings me back to the beginning.  Want to drive for Uber and Lyft?   Do it because there's nothing stopping you, and you can drive an old car too, 2008 and newer is just fine here in Seattle, your taxi  officially cannot be over ten-years old.   If you instead wanted to own a cab, good luck finding an available medallion, and worse, straddling yourself with a much higher financial overhead and tougher regulatory scrutiny.  

And adding further insult to taxis, your rates driving Uber and Lyft are now higher than a cab, making it much more profitable to drive for a TNC service.  Don't be a fool like me and drive a taxi.  Be a smart asshole and drive Uber!   Don't be dumb!  Be an Uber Bum! 

David Friend is Out of the Puget Sound Dispatch Door

Yes, it's true, that rascal David Friend, the lawyer who won a big part of a controlling interest in Seattle Yellow Cab years ago in an injury lawsuit, has sold his shares to his buddy Lema.  Since I have nothing good to say I won't say anything bad, if you can understand my words.  Good luck and other parting epitaphs left unsaid.  

A kind of tribute Poem to Sean Singer, that poetry writing former NYC cabbie

It can be fun writing in a style or form not your own, and liking what Sean Singer did in his poetry volume, "Today in the Taxi," I decided to amuse myself by writing a poem in slight imitation of what he accomplished.  Many eons ago, in San Francisco, I jokingly wrote a poem in the manner of Charles Bukowski, that infamous poetry writing degenerate, shocking my wife with a Bukowski-style "betting at the racetrack and bangin' a whore in a sordid hotel" poetic tale.  Then I was being silly and today only a trifle more serious.  Bukowski was a bit of a walking, talking, writing, drinking parody, something Sean Singer is not.  He's the real deal---cabbie, writer, poet.  And that's good enough for me.

In Friendly Imitation of Sean Singer

Today in my taxi I picked up Madness on its way to Thirteenth and Bedlam to meet a Mister Beelzebub and his nephew Wormwood,

who were all visiting Anne Sexton's ghost residing in a narrow hallway forever repeating,

"We stand in broken lines and wait while they unlock the door and count us at the frozen gates of dinner."

and later I sat parked in a yellow queue at a Big Corporate Hotel waiting for Sanity but of course Madness knowing much better than I,

directing me instead down the dreary drugged phenothiazine infused Monks Orchard Road to Beckenham, Medical Lake, Lakewood and other maladjusted scenic destinations. 


See, wasn't that fun! Ha Ha Ha!  The quote is from the American writer Anne Sexton, taken from her most amazing poetic description of living on a psychiatric ward, "You, Doctor Martin."  Having worked on psych wards and in a psychiatric hospital, her words ring true.  Phenothiazine is a family of drugs used to treat schizophrenia.  Back in my youthful days in San Francisco 1979-82, I read that poem to patients in various psych wards.  Beelzebub of course is the evil devil and Wormwood is taken from the C. S Lewis novel, "The Screwtape Letters" in which Uncle Screwtape is giving devilish advise to his young nephew Wormwood.  Beckenham is where Bedlam Hospital is located.  Medical Lake, Washington is home to Eastern State Hospital.  Lakewood, Washington is where Western State Hospital is located, where very recently a patient killed his roommate.  Monks Orchard Road will take you to Bedlam.


Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Back In The Taxicab Saddle---Nothing Whatsoever Has Changed & Yet Another Uber Quarterly Loss & Is It Really A Good Idea For The American Taxi Industry To Partnership With Uber? & 1917 Studebaker Series 18 Model SF Taxicab

Times They Ain't A' Changing, At Least Not Yet

I never want to say never but for the taxi moment, clearly upon my return last Thursday, nothing, as near and far as I can see, has changed in the world that is Seattle and Seattle taxi.  The roads remain clogged.  The majority of the Seattle's drivers remain clueless, acting like it is their first moment behind the wheel.  And some passengers that can be categorized as from lower socioeconomic/cultural classes continue to display poor communication skills.  

It is also true that too many passengers are still waiting up to two hours for their cabs to arrive, Yellow's Philippine-based dispatch callcenter's continued poor monitoring of waiting fares creating long waits and no-shows.  And all this happened over a four day span.  

Business however remains good, and one might comment, too good for the number of working cabs out there.  In short, I can now report on Election Day, November 8th, 2022, that the chaos that is driving cab in Seattle remains constant.  Don't we all love consistency?  Shall we laugh or cry or commit suicide and die?  No, don't do that.  Instead smile and the world will smile with you; yes smile like a hungry crocodile disguising any murderous guile, knowing that life is hard and a daily trial, taxi eventually making it through the difficult mile.  One can hope on a nearly full moon night!

Uber Keeps Bleeding Money

Uber's Third quarterly revenue increased while at the same time reporting a net loss of 1.3 billion dollars.  In the second quarter Uber loss 2 billion dollars.  Will they ever make a profit?

Uber and Taxi Suddenly Kissing Cousins?

In a conversation with PSD's (Seattle Yellow Cab) General Manager, he told me, having just come back from a national taxicab convention in Las Vegas (Sin City), Nevada, that a major topic of discussion was building a kind of business cooperation with Uber, aligning themselves with the very company that nearly destroyed the American taxicab industry.  Sounds like a big mistake to me.  And it makes me think of a comparison with current rhetoric spouted by Republican GOP politicians concerning abortion, stating that if a woman is raped and impregnated, she must give birth to the child regardless of any and all consequences.  

In that sense, one might say that Uber raped the the world's taxi industry, and now some in the industry want to hold hands with the rapist, giving birth to a new collaboration.  Obscene is my response.  Instead, arrest Uber for the criminal company it is and kick their ass straight into an awaiting prison cell.  What are people thinking!

The Seattle Times Sunday Pacific NW magazine, November , 6th, 2022 edition

In the final two pages of the magazine this past Sunday, in the "Now & Then" weekly feature, is a picture of a Seattle cab driver from 1921 standing in front of his cab, a 1917 Studebaker.   It is a great photograph and I encourage everyone to search it out.  The guy is well dressed in clothes of the era, his head topped by a wonderful black fedora.  He is wearing a buttoned down white shirt.  The car is an open-air sedan.  Must have been fun riding in it on a rainy Seattle day!  But I don't like the cabbie's expression.  I wouldn't want to get into his cab!