Monday, March 20, 2023

California Appeals Court Rules In Favor For Uber And Lyft & And Answering A Reader's Question Concerning 2,600 Projected Taxis

 "The oligarchs are dancing in the streets tonight." Taken from a quote by Veena Dubal, Law Professor at the UC College of Law, San Francisco

On March 13th, a three-judge panel comprising the CA State Appeals Court ruled in favor of upholding the TNC endorsed Proposition 22, whereas California voters, subjected to a $200 million dollar campaign, voted to overturn Assembly Bill 5, a law granting employee status and protections to Uber, Lyft and Door Dash drivers.  It wasn't a complete victory for ride-share companies because the judges ruled that one section of Prop 22 improperly prevented union organizing, which opened up the door to potential union representation.  This particular case came about due to a 2021 lower court ruling that Prop 22 was unconstitutional.  This judgement overruled that finding.  Longtime readers might remember me reporting on that decision.  Nonetheless, the argument isn't over as it will be heading to a court capable of a more final say, the State of CA Supreme Court.  Meanwhile, in the legal interval, Uber is in a celebratory mood. 

Too Many Cabs? A reader asks.

A regular reader pointed out that the City of Seattle & King County's goal of ultimately having 2,600 operational cabs might not be wise due to the unlikely business sustainability of having that many cabs plying the Seattle and County streets.  He has a point, given how the overall taxi fleet has shrunk to numbers never seen before in our modern era.  

What would it take for Seattle's taxi industry to rebound to a place where it could actively support those kinds of numbers?  Organization, my friends, combining all the cabs under one business umbrella, similar to the old BYG co-op but this time a far more democratic association which could greatly reduce overall operational costs.  Wouldn't everyone love having a $50.00 per week dispatch fee and say monthly insurance coverage costs of $200-300.00.  It could it done but don't volunteer me, please, because I am too old and long-in-the-taxi-tooth for such efforts.  But if I were 30 years younger, I would take up that banner and charge up the hill.  Anyone out there have the time and energy to take on this fight?  It would be worth the effort.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

An Official Message From King County: "What Do The New (Taxi) Ordinances Do?"

FAST (King County) sent me this very important information.  I also had a King County regulator call me.  There is good news for anyone currently operating a taxi or might be planning to.  Please note this probably means that all Seattle/King County licensed cabs should eventually, in a year or two, be able to work the airport.  Whether that means you first have to join the airport taxi drivers union, I don't know.  That will be something you the individual cabbie will have to figure out. Contact the Port of Seattle after all the new rules are finalized.  And if that permission is granted, please remember that Sea-Tac International Airport isn't a mythical taxi Shangri-La or that wonderful Goose laying all those Golden Eggs.  Now that you will be able to work every King County road, street, village, town and city, take advantage and do it.  Expand your taxi horizons.  James Hilton would be proud.

Two Pages from King County

What you will be reading are the exact wording sent to me.  Read all this very carefully, with some of the goals outlined positive, while some maybe not as much.  Ultimately it will be up to all those still in the industry to decide what is best going forward for a taxi industry in deep flux.  Personally, I have my doubts whether Seattle's, and America's taxi industry can survive Uber's ability to manipulate the personal transportation industry.  Uber, as shown over the past 13 years, is not nice.  The provisions listed here by King County are designed to assist in the taxi industry's survival.  One can only hope.

Page One:  What do the new ordinances do?

In 2023, the City and County plan to each transmit two ordinances affecting the for-hire transportation industry to the City Council and the County Council.   The combined effect of the ordinances is streamlined taxicab and for-hire vehicle regulations located in new chapters of City and County codes. Key changes include:

1.  Allow City Only and County Only medallions to operate throughout the region with a new reciprocity endorsement (a reciprocity endorsement-a medallion).  (Editor note: my keyboard doesn't have the symbol used by KC, so I inserted a dash instead)

2.  Convert all for-hire vehicle medallions to taxicab medallions.

3.  Adjust insurance requirements and adapt to a changing insurance market and policy models that will attempt to make the Seattle market more attractive to other insurers.

4.  Eliminate outdated operating requirements and align City and County requirements such as no longer referring to uniforms or personal hygiene and aligning differences in vehicle age limits. 

5.  Establish a new regional for-hire driver's license with the option to obtain an enhanced license that includes a fingerprint-based Federal background check and a third-party 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-all of which are key features of a modernized fleet.

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

        a.  The City and County will issue civil citations (monetary penalties) and license actions                                  (suspensions, summary suspensions, revocations, and denials).

       b.   Appeals will go to the hearing examiner for the jurisdiction issuing the citation or license action.

8.  Establish a uniform age limit of 15 years, lower the minimum for-hire driver age from 21 to 20, and           adjust maximum allowable driver operating hours (these requirements align with the State TNC law           adopted in 20220.

9.  Authorize the County to set a minimum fare for short trips such as those from Sea-Tac Airport (the            ordinances will not affect other decisions made by the Port of Seattle regarding ground transportation        service).

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. (Editor            note:  Allowing owner input is some very important)

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

      a.  The ordinances will not require the use of EVs but will acknowledge as an option.

      b.  The City and County will work with partners to ensure drivers have access to programs for EV              purchases and charging infrastructure.

Page Two: Key Deadlines

ORDINANCE ADOPTION:  For-hire vehicle and taxicab associations are licensed as transitional regional                                                dispatch agencies for at least one year, but not more than two years

ONE YEAR LATER:  Owners of previously deposited, revoked, relinquished, etc. medallions must notify                                       director of plans

MARCH 31ST, 2025:  For-hire vehicles and medallions convert to taxicabs (deadline may change)

                                     Adopt a smart taximeter system (requirements rule to be issued confirming                                                   deadline

                                     Any remaining transitional regional dispatch agencies must apply for a regional                                           dispatch agency license to continue operating

New Rules (dates TBD):  Splitting a dual medallion into a City and a County Medallion

                                          Vehicle markings

                                          Dispatch system for WAVs


What is happening with medallions?

TYPES:  For-hire medallions are eliminated and convert to taxicab medallions

                                            ---No changes to WAT medallions

CAPS:   Before---City: 1,050 taxicabs & 200 for-hire vehicles

                             County: 561 taxicabs & 471 for-hire vehicles

             After---City: 1,300 taxicabs

                         County: 1,300 taxicabs

JURISDICTION:  City and County medallion reciprocity endorsements are created and are required for                                  Seattle medallions and County medallions to operate regionally

                              Duel medallion owners have the option to split into a City medallion and a County                                      medallion, obtain reciprocity endorsements for each, and put two vehicles on the road

SCHEDULE:  Vehicle licensing will transition to an anniversary schedule, just like for for-hire driver                                 licensing

                         Owners of previously medallions relinquished, revoked, deposited, etc. have one year to                             tell the City and County their plans or the medallion is permanently retired


There you have it, guys and gals, taxi bureaucracy at its finest? or at its very worst?   Only time will tell.  I wish everyone luck with all these changes.  But my final comment is that it would have been much better if the City of Seattle had kept their TNC (Uber & Lyft) Cap in place, and then maybe all you have just read would never have been written, no reason to, no cause.  But welcome to the real taxi world as I know it: the taxi get the shaft right up the you-know-where! shaved to the bone grizzly bear!

PS: Editor Note---For some reason, the "Page Two" section has decided to diagram some of its sentences like they were written by that Beat-era poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  Crazee, man, crazee! Ain't it cool!  I recommend highly his volume of verse "Coney Island of the Mind."  

Just noticed it also happened on page one.  Oh well, ain't it swell?  No.


Monday, March 6, 2023

A Final Assessment Of Seattle/King County's Taxi Industry: Failure And Delusion & Falling Upon The Sword: My Last Failed Attempt Of Taxi Advocacy & Remembering A Terrible 2018 Taxi Accident

STITA Closes it's Office

The departure of that once mighty group of Sea-Tac cabbies says everything about what is currently the awful state of affairs that is Seattle & King County taxi.  In short, it is abysmal.  Orange Cab is gone.  Farwest has 20 working cabs.  Yellow is operating with about 250 taxis.  The only bright spot, if there is one, are the 400 plus cabs working Sea-Tac International Airport but even they are fading due to the head-to-head competition from Uber and Lyft.  Though they are cheaper than the TNC companies, most of the arriving passengers don't know it, taking Uber and Lyft as a matter of habit.  

In a last conversation with Puget Sound Dispatch's (Seattle Yellow Cab) General Manager, I found his protestations about current business trends to be unrealistic, not based on what I have seen first hand as a front-line owner/operator.  A few months earlier, in a discussion about pick-up times, he said the average wait time was 11 minutes.  10 years ago, yes, that was true at times but not now, not at all, especially outside of downtown and late at night.  Denial has been, and is the taxi industry's death knell, and so in that sense, the bells are ringing, hearses, not taxicabs lining up to haul away the dead.  It is a bad situation.  The vultures are circling.   And that's the way it is, Seattle-style taxicab 2023. 

The Judge was Disingenuous 

Finally I got my in-person court date concerning the four bus lane violations I was questioning.  In a last desperate attempt at taxi advocacy I refused the first offer of reduced fines, understanding that I might end up paying the full amount for all four tickets.  I did this because I wanted to have my say, pointing out how poor the signage is, suggesting it might be a kind of entrapment but no one, especially the judge, heeding my arguments.  After getting my butt kicked over the first violation, I acquiesced and took a reduction for the final three, understanding how farcical my effort was, defeated before I started.  Have I learned my lesson?  Yes, I certainly have.    

Remembering the horrible cab accident of September 13th, 2018

Yesterday I encountered the former Yellow cabbie who survived an awful head-on collision with a wrong way driver at North 155th & Aurora Ave. North in 2018.  His passenger, a 62 year-old woman, was killed.  He was hospitalized for 7 months.  The 21 year-old kid driving the big American car wasn't insured.  I have looked up the photos of the accident and the cab was demolished.  I don't know if the kid was charged with manslaughter or some other such serious charge.  The former driver recognized me first, remembering my past efforts toward the industry. "You were our leader," he said, which was nice to hear but shouldn't he have had more coverage and protection at the moment his car was struck?  Why yes, and even though I cared, my concern wasn't enough to bring about the changes our industry required.  The man is very lucky to be alive, and walking.  Screw taxi!

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Adios Taxi! At The Very Least It Has Been Interesting If Not A Bit Maddening & My Last Taxi Night Ride To Mount Vernon, Washington

Logging Out One Final Time 10:51 PM, Saturday February 25th, 2023

Yes, its goodbye to taxi, a journey begun on a mid-September weekend in 1987.  Of course I didn't know it would last this long, never conceiving such an outcome but maybe I just wasn't reading the taxi tea leaves properly.  On my very first day I rolled $150.00 in 11 hours driving a non-dispatched cab, having very little idea nor clue what I was doing.  After that, I was told "no split sheet" for me, just the ordinary lease (nut).  Within two months I was nicknamed the "Vacuum Cleaner" for my ability to "vacuum up the fares," and again, minus any dispatch.  

Obviously then I held a natural talent  or propensity for something I knew little to nothing about.  I did know the City of Seattle to a reasonable degree, and King County to a smaller extent, so that clearly assisted in making money, the downtown streets and hotels not a complete mystery.   I also paid strict attention to potential money making scenarios like sporting events, music festivals and downtown business conventions.  I made lots of money working the University of Washington football games.  

Merely working the weekends, I found I was "rolling in the dough," happy enough while unhappily transitioning from marriage to divorce, taxi occupying my mind during this unfortunate time.  One thing I did notice right away were the parallels of navigating from crazy to crazy, from my case managing gig to sitting beneath the toplight, both embracing deranged realities the general public knew little nor cared much about.  

In that sense, I was home in each environment, madness the prevailing theme whether talking and relating to doctors or drug dealers.  It was all nuts, and later I would say, "Welcome to taxi as I know and hate  (and love) it!" something true to my very last minute, taxi a rolling asylum, a mobile psychiatric ward.  You want crazy?  Drive a cab!

Maybe one day I will write a history of my cab years, spotlighting the various phases I and the local industry went through but instead of that opus magus I will quickly outline various achievements and highlights during my active years of lobbying and advocacy on behalf of my fellow cabbies.   One reason I failed to radically change our industry was the inherent dysfunction of both the associations and the governing regulators, neither fully grasping what we needed to be successful.  Again, going into detail would require a book but at this point do I really care, and frankly I don't, because who really cares about the cab industry?  Basically, no one.

My biggest gain for the Washington State taxi industry was convincing the WA State Department of Labor and Industry to cut in half their monetary request, with me estimating I saved everyone millions, or was it tens of millions of dollars?  In small recognition, the Yellow BYG co-op gave me a $1,500 tip.  

Beyond that victory, it was mostly shouting into the wind, years thrown away while achieving little to nothing.  As the nominal leader of the Green Cab fight against King County, and the appointed president of something called  "The Alliance of Taxi Associations," all we managed to do was toss away over $100,000 while getting nothing for it.  That was dispiriting.

My two years on the Seattle & King County Taxi Advisory Commission was a joke, truly sadly comical, a farce.   Yes, I was Chair (person) that second year but no one in City or County government was interested in what we or I had to say.  And worse, we had some very unhelpful members who screwed up the proceedings, making me wonder if they weren't on someone's payroll.  Pathetic is the best description for all those wasted meetings.  Though I liked our King County moderator, Jodie.  She was great, a real professional who didn't have to say what we both knew: the commission was a fiasco.

For years, I also attended Craig Leisy's TAG (Taxi Advisory Group) meetings, fun because they were located way, way up in the municipal tower, providing a great view of the city to the west.   More social gathering that anything else, I sometimes had to endure the wrath of Frank Dogwilla, the US submarine Navy commander turned BYG General Manager.  And to think I turned down the US Navy's offer to make me an officer.  Hey, I could have turned into another Frank.  No thanks!

There was also my two years spent battling Uber's incursion, attending countless City Council meetings, with it all ending up into our local demise.   I was intimately involved in the fight, telling BYG we had to sue the City of Seattle or we were done for.  Of course, none of the fools listened to me, and we all know what happened.  Uber won and taxi is a sinking ship.

One last effort was when I was hired to save what was left of the co-op after it left Hudson Street and moved over to Meyers Way.  Not really wanting to do it because I knew it was like trying to put a house fire out with a garden hose, I nonetheless agreed to take $4000.00 a month and attempt to work a miracle but no, Lema said, you'll be getting $2500.00 instead.  That's when I said "hell no!" and soon thereafter, the once proud BYG co-op sank into the taxi sunset.  

And that's the story, morning glory!

Last Day, Big Ride

I am guessing that the local taxi gods decided to be kind on my last day, Saturday February 25th, 2023, by providing me a final decent run but it almost didn't happen, or probably should not have happened due to potentially three fatal mistakes made by dispatch.  Getting the call at 6:00 PM, it was instead scheduled for 7:00 PM.  I was given a pickup address of 705 East Pike when the actual address was 705 Pike.  And the destination provided was Tacoma but of course the passenger was heading north, not south, to Mount Vernon.   That was fun.  $170.00 a bit of a cherry on top.

My last fare of the night was a no-show, double-belled call in the Fremont.  Having enough of that, I logged out at 10:51 PM, saying a final goodbye to 35 plus years.  

Goodbye, taxi, goodbye!  No I don't need a poke in the eye!  Or further occupation in the pig sty!



Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Call Me "The Taxi Turncoat"---My Last Days Driving A Taxi & Early Sunday Morning I Saved A Life

 I will miss the camaraderie 

Saturday, February 25th, 2023, will be my last day beneath the toplight.  The 26th of each month is when my $539.00 insurance payment is withdrawn from my back account, making my decision for me.  Next week I will have all the Yellow Taxi regalia removed from the cab in preparation to do something I thought I would never ever consider: drive for Uber.  

My justification is simple enough, having tired "feeding the taxi dinosaur," a creature now extinct while sinking, slowly disappearing into the primordial muck.  All feeble roars aside, it is past time to say goodbye because Uber and Lyft won the transportation battle, the war is over.   

All of us surviving cabbies remind me of the post-WWII Japanese holdouts who refused to acknowledge that the war ended in 1945, that Japan lost and it was time to go home.  A Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi wandered in the jungles on the island of Guam for nearly 27 years before finally being captured.  Unlike that loyal soldier, I lift my arms up and yell, "I surrender, you win!" because financially, it makes little sense to continue.   

As I have written, my "nut," before I earn a dime, is $1500.00.  With Uber, my monthly insurance cost is $132.00.  As you can obviously see, there is no comparison.  As much as I didn't want to admit it, Craig Leisy, in his tome concerning Seattle taxi and TNC, was totally prescient when writing that Seattle's taxi industry would one day disappear.  It has but no one wants to admit it.  Me, I'm sick of shouting at the sky.  It's over, at least for me, it's over.

His Orange Jacket Saved Him

Early Sunday morning, at 12:17 AM, I was speeding northbound on Aurora Avenue North when a homeless man, having climbed over the medium barrier separating the north and southbound lanes, walked directly in front of my cab, a distance of about 40-50 feet forward.  Slamming the brakes, putting the cab nearly horizontal, I barely missed him, his orange jacket alerting me to his presence.  He was damn lucky it was me driving.  Anyone else would have killed him.  I first started driving a car when I was 12.   I have lots of practice.  Hard to teach that kind of life saving maneuver.  Yes, I could be a race car driver but no thanks, no excessive speeds for me.   I'll take it slow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

She Yelled "Get Out Of The F_ _ King Cab!" Hard To Disagree! & Trouble Brewing In Sea-Tac Airport Taxi-Land & Longtime Seattle Yellow Taxi Superintendent Retires & Am I A Syncretic Cabbie? & How Can PSD's Dispatching Woes Continue?

She Has Had Enough of this Taxi Nonsense!

It's not that "she-who-can't-be-named" is actually in the cab with me but sometimes she feels like she is, and wants me to get the hell out of it, "It is killing you!" and of course she is right, it ain't healthy for mind, body and soul!   Taxi is no fun, no pun and soon I will be done.

Seattle Times Article About Sea-Tac Cabbies

In a Monday, 02/13/2023 article reported by Lauren Girgus, it stated that yet again Sea-Tac based cabbies are unhappy with their treatment by the Port of Seattle, the cab drivers saying that Port staff are not listening or heeding their concerns.  What is different about this renewal of contract negotiation is that the cabbies are representing themselves as individuals, and not, as in the past, as part of some greater taxi association .  While one could say that alleged abuses by Seattle Yellow Cab, and later, Eastside for Hire, helped create the situation, it appears to be nothing than the old Port of Seattle story of caring little to nothing about the cabs working Sea-Tac.  First they let unlimited numbers of Ubers into the airport.  And now Port staff have wanted to increase the fee cabbies must pay after each pickup, regardless of fare destination.  It hasn't been, and isn't nice, the Port of Seattle treating the airport cabbies like cash cows on the way to the slaughter house; and who cares, does anyone really care?   The answer, as I keep saying in relation to taxis, is obvious.

An update to the article is that I was told that yesterday Port of Seattle has renewed a five-year agreement to keep the taxi alignment the way it is, meaning nothing much will be changing unless the cabbies go on strike or take some other kind of labor action.  I was reminded by someone that what we are seeing is a return to the past, which back in 1987 was a colorful collection of small companies and individual owners working the airport.  But what is changed is how much money the cabbies have to pay to keep the Port of Seattle happy, meaning the power dynamic remains firmly entrenched in Sea-Tac's corner, just the way they want it.  And of course, they got it!

Tomorrow, A Taxi Dinosaur Retires

After how many years working the taxi industry, fifty or more wearing various hats, Jerry DeFoi is retiring from the cab world and moving with his girlfriend to a big house near the Maryland/West Virginia border.  I say good for him but his steady voice will be missed in this too shaky of an industry.  His experience and commonsense approach will be noticeably absent, Jerry a dinosaur minus the roar.

Syncretism and the Successful Cabbie

While the terms syncretic and syncretism are usually consigned to the theological, the definition is the amalgamation of various thoughts and approaches, and if Taxi isn't a religion with an assortment of totems and gods, then I have been blasphemous all these many years, praying to imaginary idols not worthy of my many sacrifices made upon the bloody altar that is Taxi.  I have tired to tie everything I have known and applied it to the craft but ultimately syncretic I will let the minor Gods decide.  All Hail the Caesar  that's our invisible emperor!  

I was going to comment about Yellow's Cebu City-based Dispatch

Yes, but I have decided to skip it after I have found out the call-takers are all living in dormitories and making something like $7.88 a day or maybe $360.00 per month.  No wonder is all I will say.  God damn! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

What Would Your Family And Friends Say If Each Month You Flushed $1500.00 Down The Toilet? & Quick Stories From The Taxi Night & Bus Lane Violations Saga Continues & For The Curious: The How And Why I Have Spent So Many Years Beneath The Toplight

Or Throw the Money into a Fireplace, Watching it Burn?

Well, that's what it feels like each month, throwing away my hard-earned cash, that $1500.00 representing my monthly insurance cost, my monthly dispatch fee and the gasoline used to earn it.  How many hours  at say $30.00 per does it take to make that $1500.00?  Divide 30 into 1500 and you get 50 hours of my life thrown away, hours never to be returned.  For most folks that's usually a full week's schedule. 

And what does Puget Sound Dispatch (Seattle Yellow Cab) give me in exchange?   An incompetent dispatch based 8000 miles away across the Pacific Ocean.  PSD also allows our two major accounts, Hopelink and MV Metro Access, to dictate the terms we cabbies must abide by, providing no ability to negotiate our own working conditions.  It's either like it or lump it.  At least this attitude is non-discriminatory, all of us getting equally screwed.  Ain't that nice?

Wild Ending to Monday Night

The nice woman from small town Louisiana got in my cab at King Street Station at 10:16 PM, saying her Sea-Tac flight back home was leaving at 11:30 PM.  Off I roared, getting her to Sea-Tac at 10:30 PM.  And it was raining.  Yes, a fast ride but my record from DT is 12 minutes.  I was slow at 14 minutes.

Coming back I noticed a time-call sitting in Zone 210 (DT).  The nice guy was going home to the Renton Highlands, taking a cab because his Ford Crown Victoria was in the shop.  We talked about cars, and once arrived, he insisted on giving me a $100.00 tip.  "Are you sure? I asked.  "Yeah," he said, "I got the money."  Wow is all I can say !

Heading north, home to Bitter Lake, I take a call at the corner of Aurora N and N 109th.  I pull up and this very tall prostitute, somewhere between 18-22 years old, gets in the cab, going  back DT to a 'John" staying at a local hotel.  She was very nice but appeared somewhat bewildered by what was happening to her.  I didn't comment.  I wished her well.  Off into the night she went and me too, done for the day hurrah!

I will finally get an in-person court date

It's clear that the City of Seattle doesn't give a damn how confusing they might be.  My scheduled telephone hearing of yesterday turned into something I was told wasn't possible: a now scheduled real live appearance in an actual court room.  It will happen sometime in March.  Ah yes, the injustice of justice.  I suppose I should be happy.  In some other countries they would have just put me in front of a firing squad and bang! bang! bang! no more cab driving for me.

God Damn! I have been driving a cab for a long time

From the very beginning, back in September 1987 many have wondered as to why I was in a cab.  Knowing I was working a professional gig, a psychiatric case manager, how did I end up in a cab, everyone assuming I had many degrees when in reality my last full year of "formal" education was the ninth grade, and that year not starting until October, and finding myself attending school in four different Canadian provinces and American states.  Crazy it was but fast forwarding to 1974 I got my first professional psych job at age 20 even though I didn't have a lick of college.  I did toss away two fully paid four-year scholarships.  And I was in a therapist-training program but not at a university.  Later, in 1976, I got a another psych job, this time running half-way houses and again, they fully knowing I didn't have a degree.  

After moving down to San Francisco in 1979 to be with my girlfriend, later wife, I realized I had to fake a degree or not get hired.  My job resume was real, just not the degree.  My poetry editor gig didn't require a degree, only to be an alienated soul, which I qualified. 

Coming back to Seattle in 1982 I had a number of professional gigs dating from then to 1991, when I quit to concentrate on writing.  There is much more to this sad tale but given new insurance requirements, showing your college transcripts became necessary, which meant I couldn't show any even when many wanted to hire me.  Pretty stupid on my part, and yes, I should have gone back and gotten my degrees.  I am a good therapist, and given my three-years of group therapy training, I could teach all that at an University, I really know my "stuff" but with no paper to show anyone I have kept plugging all these years beneath the toplight.  

Yes, such a pathetic story!  Cry! Cry! those crocodile tears for me, baby!



Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Cancun, Mexico Taxi Drivers Battle Uber Incursion & Not At All Funny---In 2014 The Seattle Taxi Industry Traded Mandatory Black Pants For Blue Jeans And The End Result?: The Destruction Of An Over One Hundred Year-Old Industry

Cancun Cabbies Mad as Hell!

This week the US State Department issued a travel advisory warning that Cancun taxi drivers were becoming progressively more violent while protesting the new court-ordered arrival of Uber into their transportation market.  Roads were blocked.  Uber drivers were yanked out of their cars.  Frightened tourists needed to be escorted to safety by police.  Simply, the thousands of cabbies dependent upon the legions of tourists visiting the Cancun Tourist Mecca were not happy now that they must contend with Uber, their displeasure, as noted, expressed in a variety of ways, appropriate or not.  But I for one can't argue with their response, knowing full well how Uber destroyed the American taxi industry.  At least the Cancun cabbies are putting up a fight, something not occurring for the most part here in Seattle.  Instead it was capitulation, and after that surrender, what I see is the now slow "dying upon the vine" for the local industry.  You have to be stupid to continue driving a cab in Seattle.  For what reason, I ask?   For no reason whatsoever is the sad answer.

Ain't It Nice Wearing Blue Jeans?

This past taxi weekend I decided to wear the once mandated old Seattle cab uniform of formal black slacks and white button down shirt.  Did anyone notice or comment?  No, not at all, no one caring at all what I or we wear, the uniform mandate amongst other concessions traded for Uber and Lyft's unfettered entry into our transportation market.  I warned everyone at Yellow Cab (the BYG Co-op) that it was a bad idea. And having not listened to my protests, we got what we got which was a BIG kick in the taxi rear end.  At least we can now look like your ordinary bum driving down the street.  Great tradeoff, wasn't it?  

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Did He Fall Onto The Train Track Or Did He Jump? & A Very Poisonous $5.00 Cab Ride & Russian Merchant Marines & Municipal Court Date Rescheduled & SPD Up To Old Tricks & Goodbye Kshama Sawant

Focus Upon Passengers

In part I am featuring those folks we cabbies both love and hate but without passengers we wouldn't be able to complain about them.  Eons ago, often packages and not human customers were our taxi bread and butter, a long past era never returning.  Yesterday I had some kind of medical package but that was a rare deviation from the passenger-oriented norm.  So you get what you get and sometimes its neither straightforward nor pleasant.  Welcome to taxi as I know it!


Mike presented the classic taxi conundrum: do I take this guy on this long ride, knowing I might not get paid, or more wisely, tell him no and go on to the next fare?   It is something that often occurs and in this example, the passenger waiting at Harborview Hospital was sitting there only wearing hospital garb, saying he needed to go all the way up north to Arlington, a ride turning out to be $120.00.  The question posed was, do I be sympathetic or go with my instincts that nothing about this situation seems normal, far best to just drive away.  And when he said, "no problem, my mother will be paying," I knew I was looking for trouble I didn't need.  Despite that, judging the best I could, off we went with me hoping for the best outcome.

Mike was all banged up, his left foot broken in three places along with various bruises from head to foot.  How did this happen?   Drunk, he had stepped into the path of a train.  Plausible yes, and lucky to be alive.

Upon arriving at his mother's building, where a resident thankfully let us in, and now at his mother's fifth floor apartment, his shocked mother opened the door saying, "What are you doing here?   You are supposed to be in the hospital!"   

Ah yes, Mike was an escapee, leaving the hospital minus permission, and I was the unlucky accomplice, taking him to where he didn't need to be.  His mother, reasonable when she had no reason, agreed to come down to the cab and pay the fare with her credit card.  

It was in the elevator where she told me Mike had intentionally jumped in front of the train in a failed suicide attempt.   All she could do was shake her head.  And all I could do was thank the taxi heavens I got paid.  What a bad story.


Leaving her hair appointment, barely in the cab before she both began directing me while complaining about previous rides.  This was a short ride to an uncomplicated address but this not stopping her mouth from slewing garbage.  Sometimes I'm not in the mood and I hinted that she was simply out-of-control, worrying for no reason whatsoever about a five dollar fare on her way back to her $10,000 a month retirement home.  Her last bit of bullshit prompted me to say, Lady, you ain't paying me no money.  Here we are. Out!"  And telling her, "No one likes to be picked on!"  She was nuts and didn't give a damn she was crazy.  Has her money made her happy?  Or sane?  Obviously not.

Two Russian Sailors

Needing to go to a local Apple Store, I took them from their ship to South Center, and on the way there had some interesting conversation.   They were nice guys, and when they asked if I could pick them up again, I said, sure, try me, here's my card.

About three hours later, I was summoned back to the shopping center, finding them happy to be returning, saying they could understand my English, having difficulty comprehending the American speech.  I said it was all in the enunciation, not the pronunciation.  Not sure if they understood.

But I became disappointed when they repeated the argument that Mister Putin has made, that the Ukraine was part of a historic Russia.  Knowing a little bit about it, I mentioned Catherine the Great and border and territory changes through the centuries, almost twice missing my turns.   Nice people, and they both shook my hand but please, Putin invading the Ukraine was unnecessary and crazy, no justification whatsoever.  Just like the USA and the Philippines 1898, America and Vietnam 1959, America and Grenada 1984.  America and Iraq, twice!  And Afghanistan, both Russia and the USA.  Will stupid governments please stop killing people!  God almighty.  

No In-Court Appearance

Pissed me off, getting up early only to find there is no in-person court for these dumbbell bus lane violations.  For parking tickets, yes but not these.  I have rescheduled for February 6th but I am weighing my options.  Sick of this crap.  Waste of my bloody time, and money!

Nothing Like the Seattle Police Department

As any Seattle cabbie knows all too well, there ain't no love lost between us and SPD, exemplified by the actions of one officer near the stadium when the Seahawks played the New York Jets.  Sitting where I alway do, and have for years on Occidental South, this cop motions to me and other cabbies to "get moving" when no one else has cared.  Other cops didn't, only him, Mister All-Powerful, not caring a second either for us or the fans needing a cab.  Why should he care?  Obviously no reason at all, taking a broom, sweeping away the chaff! 

It's A Great Day

Yes it is, now that the ever fraudulent Kshama Sawant announced she will not seek reelection for the Seattle City Council.  I of course remain unhappy that she, that great leader of the unwashed masses, voted to provide Uber and Lyft unfettered access to Seattle's taxi market, thus destroying an one hundred year-old industry.  And I was there when she once pledged to support us.  What a liar!  What a fraud!  Now she will be leading her own labor organization knocking down the hated Capitalist's Door.  Ha Ha Ha!  But the people we elect?  Not so funny.



Saturday, January 14, 2023

Greetings From Surprise Valley Hot Springs (Cedarville, California): The Financial Mystery That Is Puget Sound Dispatch (Seattle Yellow Cab)

Soaking Our Heads

This week being "she-who-can't be named's" birthday week, we have been enjoying the hot water that is Surprise Valley Hot Springs, a wonderful "middle-of-nowhere" locale in the far northeast corner of the state of California near the Nevada border, accurately known as Modoc County.  For little more than than the inflated price of your average awful roadside motel, you can have your own 24 hour mineral springs supplied hot tub, taking it easy while enjoying a Big Dipper star-filled night sky.  Listen to the coyotes howl.  And when taking a break from the stuporific waters, there are nearby hiking trails, and further south, the South Warner (Mountains) Wilderness to explore.  

How to get there?  Shoot down southbound I-5, and at Redding, California, turn off onto to State Highway 299 heading northeast until you are five miles east of Cedarville, which means you are there.  It is very easy to find.  Route 395 out of Oregon is another  good way to get there.  If you do, check out the John Day Country--- dinosaur fossils and pastel colored hills reminding of Death Valley, another place one needs to visit before exiting this earth.  But watch out for the Panamint Valley rattler, crotalus stephensi, and having met one such example in 1974, I know.

                                                                    January snow

                                                                    tinting the Warner Mountains 

                                                                    white over the blue. 

We experienced all kinds of moody winter weather including snow coating the surrounding mountains.  Beautiful upon a winter's day.  And Happy Martin Luther King Junior Day!

Since the Yellow Cab single owner/operators are Financing Puget Sound Dispatch, shouldn't we have a say in Day-to-Day Operations?

I have made this point before but it continues to be utterly true.  Without our weekly dispatch fee of a now too high $195.00, PSD would not exist.  It is that simple.  Something beyond all deniability.   Given that sober reality, why does PSD continue to act like it has no real accountability to the single owners keeping the company extant as a taxi association and dispatch company?  

Once the BYG Co-op folded, ending its lease-driving operations, everything changed though it's obvious that PSD doesn't understand that, continuing to act like they own the pursestrings when they don't.   The thousand or more lease-drivers that once funded the Co-op are gone, with an entirely different business model taking its place.  The sad reality is that we single owners are treated more like employees than the independent business operators we are.  And until they recognize that, conflicts will continue, eventually leading to a revolt and the disappearance of Puget Sound Dispatch altogether.  

It should be more than obvious that what all we owners need and want is a dispatch company providing professional dispatching, something we can own and operate ourselves if we choose.  The resource to do this is the money we are now giving weekly to PSD.   As far as I know, current PSD board members have once again begun taking our weekly dispatch fees and putting whatever sizable percentage directly into their own pockets instead of reinvesting it back in the company itself, perpetuating ever ongoing staff shortages and inadequate dispatching that continue to daily plague us.  

With the advent of a new year, how can anyone call this acceptable?   I for one don't which is why I am requesting a new dialogue between the single owners and PSD.  If PSD is going to continue in its current form, it must be with our input and knowledge of how PSD operates, what its staffing and financial goals and priorities are minus all obfuscation.  We require transparency, yes, like a clear blue high desert winter sky in northeastern California.  Let the taxi deer and antelope roam!

On a walk before driving taxi on Christmas Day 2022

What makes this a taxi poem is that I was taking a walk along an urban trail before setting out in the cab, unfortunately noticing a man lying on top of a pile of debris obviously dying from a drug induced overdose.  I called 911.  It was raining and having no protection from the elements, his body soaked by the falling moisture.  What a Christmas present to the world it wasn't, unwrapped, bare to the eye.

Poem:  "Jesus Christ On A Christmas Morning"

A new Christ Child upon a Christmas dawn

arms outstretched lay dying for whose sins

he of course never knew, 

prematurely crucified even before Bethlehem ox  

and ewe and ass could kneel and in sweet tribute 

sing out his birth in celestial chorus;

instead deceased, the searching Three Kings

stumbling over a stiffening cadaver, spilling their

frankincense and myrrh, this Child never again

rising up on April Spring Sunday mornings, no

Easter chocolates sweeting the tongue 

of someone lost to God's memory,

forever forgotten in the anointing rain, his

mouth agape, never 

to smile.  


Check out the Thomas Hardy poem "The Oxen"

PS 01/16/23

The Seattle Times reported today that in 2022 310 homeless died on the streets.  I am guessing that my "new Christ Child" was one of them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Ringing In The Taxi New Year---2022 Summary & No More Hopelink For Me & A Hard Choice: Auburn Or Blaine

More Business on New Year's Eve

Was it a hopeful sign that business was better for the cabs on the 31st, suggesting better days ahead?   I would like to say yes but the true answer is no, our outlook is dismal despite upcoming policy changes from the City of Seattle and King County.   I see us, at least in Seattle, as an industry running in circles, round and round we go heading nowhere fast.  The reason for this is that Uber and Lyft won the transportation argument years ago, out maneuvering a moribund American taxi industry.  First we were undersold while overwhelmed by greater number of TNC operators.  Then after reducing our actual fleet numbers, it forced many to leave the business, or worse, they themselves turning to Uber, TNC's efficiency pushing us further into a bad corner.  And while all this has been occurring, our overall costs have been getting higher, not lower.  

All this is a bad combination, meaning much longer wait periods for those who call taxis and an in general lassitude overtaking all of us fighting to stop taxicab's decline into oblivion.  While I am stubborn, as the saying goes, the "writing is on the wall" and crumbling bricks are bonking, falling upon our poor heads.   Is it knocking any sense into us?  No, of course not.

Hopelink is now Hopeless

Once my favorite account, providing me with the longest trips/rides during my many years beneath the toplight, I had myself taken off the account, no longer interested in putting up with 30-35 percent "no-shows" and declining rates, all combining to take money out of my pocket.  It is all part of the decline I was just speaking to.  Taxi is only fun when you are making "real" money.  Take that incentive away and the motivation to drive a cab disappears.  It is that simple.

$90.00 vs $335.00

While saying taxi is all about making money, customer service is certainly connected to that, as illustrated by what happened to me on Friday night after belled in to the Greyhound for Charlie going to Auburn.  Charlie, a guy nearly 80 years old, had been on a bus two days coming in from Bakersfield, California and needed a ride home.  I got his big bag in the trunk, and while backing out, a guy walks up and says he is going to Blaine, Washington, on the Canadian border.  Many would have booted good, old Charlie out of the cab and taken this guy named Alex for the big money.  Instead I called a friend and gave him the fare.  I did what I had to do, and my friend owes me a burrito, calling it a small service charge.  He can now afford the $7.71, tax included.  

Happy New Year!