Thursday, August 31, 2023

Bad News For Seattle Cabbies: The Queen Anne Bartell's Drugstore Is Closing & Two Perspectives On New iCabbi Dispatch System & 252 Robotaxi Crashes In San Francisco Bay Area & Robotaxis Coming To A Local Street Near You

 Seattle's Last 24 Hour Pharmacy is Closing

Back in the late 1980s, there was only one 24 hour pharmacy open when your prescription need to be filled at 3 in the morning.  Located near the intersection of 26th and East Cherry, in the center of a then Cocaine Crack-era war zone, it was always an adventure getting your prescription filled.  I know this because I was driving for Farwest Taxi, making it a popular run in the early morning hours.  The usual pharmacist on duty matched the territory, a somewhat quirky individual who made the mundane somehow surreal.  

Later, quite thankfully, at least two other drugstores began offering 24 hour services but alas, no more, as the Uptown/Queen Anne Bartell's is closing its doors permanently on September 10th, 2023.  No longer will cabbies be rushing passengers there to fill an emergency prescription.  Where will you have to go instead?  Issaquah.  A better fare but one certainly not making an already ill passenger very happy.  Seattle, once a 24-hour city back in 1973 upon my arrival in that distant January, is closing down.  Does anyone truly care?   At least at City Hall, I am doubtful that they do.

iCabbi One and Two

One friend, an over 40 year taxi veteran, hates it, finds it confusing, and not quickly understanding all its "helpful" features.

Another friend, half the age of my aforementioned colleague, has more readily transitioned from the old MTI to the new iCabbi dispatch.  Clearly there are more initial steps regarding iCabbi but once learned, it should be superior to anything the industry has previously utilized.  iCabbi is very similar to the Uber app.  Hopefully soon, all the Seattle Yellow cabbies will have mastered the system, and suddenly, their beaming smiles will light up any cloudy Seattle taxi day.


There are three robotaxi companies operating in SF and area. Zoox has been involved in 42 crashes.  Waymo, 110.  GM Cruise, 64.  All these since Jan 1, 2022, for a total of 252.  Safer?  Maybe not.

Run for Your Lives: The Great Robotaxi Invasion is Attacking Seattle

Yes, taxi boys and girls, Cruise and Waymo robotaxis will soon be visiting Seattle streets.  Look for one DT soon.  Won't it be fun, new technology beneath the not always shining Seattle sun?


Monday, August 21, 2023

Elder Abuse?--"-What Are Ya Doing? Ya Old Geezer" & San Francisco Robotaxi Service Expansion Already In Trouble & Killer Arrested And Charged & Saudi Border Guards Kill Hundreds Of Ethiopian Migrants

I Have Been Called Many Names 

When driving a cab, and now Uber, part of the experience is finding yourself treated like public property, many finding permission to say and do anything they want to the inanimate object that so happens to be a living and breathing human being.  Am I ever surprised by such crazed behavior?  Well, this past Saturday night, after finding myself stuck in post-football game traffic game on 1st Avenue South, I realized there was a way out, and while attempting to pierce a line of cars blocking my way to an open driveway, a young female voice rang out, calling me an old geezer.  

Admittedly  I am getting somewhat "long in the tooth" as it's sometimes said, though most never guess I am five months away from my 70th birthday.  Most commonly I am called "you faggot" but this time it was a different moniker.  As I said, abuse is something I'm familiar with.  What if a passenger says they love me?  I wouldn't like that either.  One might say, "with you, no one can win."  And you know, I cannot disagree. 

Kind of Funny

It didn't take long for something bad to occur after GM Cruise and Waymo were given permission to operate their robotaxi services throughout the City of San Francisco minus any time of day limitations. Last Thursday night a Cruise robocab was hit by a fire truck on the way to an emergency call.  The solo passenger was injured and taken to a local hospital, this being one of two collisions happening that night.  And another Cruise car drove into a construction site, suddenly mired in wet cement. 

Due to these incidents, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) intervened, ordering GM Cruise to reduce their operational fleet by half, translating to 50 daylight cars and 150 night vehicles.  Per my prediction made last week, the first fatality will shut down the San Francisco robotaxi experiment permanently.  

Cruise's explanation as to why the fire truck accident occurred wasn't convincing, saying a tall building blocked essential communication to their vehicle.  And they want to operate in a city filled with giant office buildings?   What will be their next excuse?  

Neiana M. Allen-Bailey Charged with First Degree Murder

The 18-year-old woman who murdered Lyft driver Amare Geda, was officially charged and held on $2 million dollar bail.  There is surveillance video of Allen-Bailey fatally shooting Geda.   

Murder and Mayhem on the Saudi Arabian/Yemen Northern border 

The human rights agency, Human Rights Watch, has just released a special report entitled, "They Fired On Us Like Rain," detailing a series of attacks by Saudi troops on unarmed Ethiopian migrants attempting to enter Saudi Arabia from Yemen.  Using machine gun and mortar fire, they have mowed down men, women and children, killing hundreds of defenseless victims.  Saudi Arabian authorities claim to know nothing about the murders.  That is not believable.  

The next time you see an Ethiopian cabbie or TNC driver, know they are here in the USA for real reasons, their country the past three decades experiencing a series of internal and external conflicts.  Currently, nearly 20 million Ethiopians are facing hunger and starvation.  And now this tragedy.  Tip your driver generously.  They could very well be sending money back to family members.  Do what you can.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Greetings From San Francisco: He Has Had Enough!---Longtime Seattle/King County Yellow Taxi Cabbie Quits And Moves To Rural California & Bullshit Uber Driver Deactivations & Robotaxi Service Expansion Approved For San Francisco & Longtime Seattle Cabbie And TNC Driver Murdered At 1st South And Walker---GoFundMe Page & Seattle Mariner's Baseball Attendance Up

Not Flowers, Only Taxi Receipts in my Hair

Writing from the not-unpleasant confines of my 16th & Valencia (Mission District) hotel room.  I am here in the Bay Area meeting with my longtime writing comrade Jake, fine-tuning the pages of my newest book, "To Age 13."  He is helping me install some software that speeds up the editing.  I am dead serious about this book getting the publishing deal it well deserves.  That's why I am here, along with visiting the De Young, eating Chinese dumplings and Mission District burritos.  I love San Francisco.  I hate Seattle. 

He Grew Tired of Killing Himself for $5000.00 a Month

As I have always said, there's money to be made, lots of money driving a taxi in Seattle and King County but the hours and expenses associated with driving a cab are a killer, prompting a taxi buddy, after his leased cab was totaled by an errant driver, to hightail it to northern California east of Redding.  Part of the issue was, after a more stable (and cheaper) housing situation disappeared, he found himself in a $ 2000.00-a-month Sea-Tac motel room.  And with a $500.00 weekly taxi lease, along with the high cost of gasoline, all the money he was making was flushed down the proverbial toilet, never allowing him to get ahead, never saving some of that hard-gained money.  The car required an over $10,000 repair, which the owner simply couldn't afford to repair or replace.  

Now my friend is living outside of a small town renowned for its magnificent waterfall.  Last time I spoke to him he was applying for a job at an auto parts store.  Sounds like a good match, having spent the majority of his adult life driving a car.  He certainly knows about repairs, and in his case, repairing himself from the many damaging years driving a cab.  I too know all about that subject, finding myself as only another dented body in life's wrecking yard.  Who wants to be there?

Racial Bias Found in Uber Driver Deactivations 

A University of Washington study found patterns of racial discrimination when Uber deactivated operators from their platform, a problem affecting thousands of drivers, a simple unsubstantiated complaint often resulting in serious consequences.   In Seattle, a ten-year Uber veteran was deactivated last September after dealing with two drunk passengers first vomiting in his car, then attacking him once he pulled over, all the blame falling upon him.  It was only this month that he has been reactivated, costing him many months in lost wages.  Luckily for him, a new WA State law creating a TNC driver resource center assisted him and others in dealing with an opaque Uber bureaucracy.  For Uber drivers in other states, watch out is the best anyone can say, Uber is not always your best friend.

Robotaxis on the Loose

On August 10th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in a 3-1 vote, gave approval to GM Cruise and Waymo to expand their operations 24/7 in the city of San Francisco, removing all previous restrictions.   One of the claims made by Cruise and Waymo is that their service will save lives but all passengers must first sign a waiver exempting the companies from liability if the robotaxi kills them in an accident.  On the very next day after the CPUC decision, ten Cruise robotaxis stalled all in a row, blocking a narrow street.  

This is my prediction. Within the next year, passenger or passengers will die in a robotaxi due to some kind of malfunction, setting off lawsuits and the cancellation of the service.  And I won't be surprised if the CPUC itself is sued.  As one might rightfully say, the responsibility is all theirs.

Amare Geda GoFundMe site

Last Tuesday, a longtime taxi/TNC driver was murdered at the corner of 1st South and South Walker at 3:30 AM.  The suspect, an 18-year-old woman, was later arrested and is being held under a $2 million bail.  She stole his car, driving it for 3. days.  A Go Fund Me page has been set up for him.  I urge everyone who can donate to assist his widow and three children.


A Winning Team Helps

2023 Mariner's attendance is up this year, so far averaging over 30,000 fans, an average of just over two thousand from last year's totals.   More fans equal more money for everyone picking them up.  Go team!


Sunday, August 6, 2023

Uber In The News: For One Quarter They Show A Profit & Uber Surge Surprises CEO & New I-5 Northbound Third Lane At Seneca Street & New Colman Dock (Pier 52) Terminal Is Now Open & A Night Out With The South Sudanese Community & Seahawk Pre-Season Beginning This Upcoming Thursday & iCabbi Training Schedule In Current PSD Online Newsletter

Uber Making $$$ and Charging You the Customer more

For the first time since its inception in 2009, namely in 14 years, Uber has finally turned a quarterly profit, reporting it made $326 million from $9.23 billion posted revenue.  Good news for Uber but the bad news for Uber passengers is that rates have increased 50% from a year ago.  On the profit news, Uber's stocks declined in value.  Oh well, you can't make everyone happy.  Especially the greedy a-holes gambling on Wall Street. 

"Oh my god!" was Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's response

Wired Magazine editor Steven Levy took a Manhattan Uber ride 2.9 miles long to meet up with the Uber CEO.  When asked to guess how much the ride cost, Khosrowshahi guessed $20.00.  Wrong.  The fare was $51.69.  But what I want know is, how much did the driver get?  Now that's important. 

Driving Northbound on I-5 Through DT Seattle Is Suddenly Easier

Something correct has finally occurred with local highway infrastructure, with the very recent opening of a third northbound lane I-5 at Seneca Street.  Drivers can now easily exit upon westbound Seneca without getting tangled up with those proceeding north.  It is a great improvement.  Bravo! 

New DT Ferry Terminal and Dock now open

In all my decades driving taxi, one destination above all stood out, having delivered more passengers to the Pier-52 Bainbridge Island/Bremerton ferry dock than any other transportation terminus.  More than Sea-Tac airport.  More than the King Street Amtrak train station.  More than the Greyhound Bus terminal.  How many times I've had to rush passengers down the road to avoid missing their ferry is beyond remembering.   Given that reality, I am pleased, that after four years of construction, the new ferry terminal is now ready for the hordes traveling across Elliot Bay.  I have yet to see what they have done to accommodate drop-offs and pick-ups but I will provide a report as soon as I see it for myself.   I am hopeful.

It Was Both Special and an Honor

Last night, Saturday August 5th, I attended a South Sudanese graduation party as the guest of my taxi buddy, James, originally from South Sudan.  Despite a late start, it was a great success, with the pot luck banquet especially delicious.  While enjoying stuffing myself with unfamiliar dishes, the highlight of the evening was a circular dance performed by the colorfully dressed older ladies, round and round they went commemorating the teenaged high school graduate.  Also special was a long prayer said before the meal began.  Truly a wonderful experience. 

The festive evening took me back to my two years (1964-66)  in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, Canada, remembering the often warm hospitality I received from the native Cree, my friend Bobby's mother serving me piping hot bannock along with beaver, muskrat, moose and buffalo.  During our last months there, the Cree invited me and my father to participate in a "tea" dance, tramping thorough the snow in a circular procession, happy, similar to last night, to be included, not as an outsider but as a trusted friend.  I repeat, what an honor it was in 1966, and now, once again in 2023.  

Sporting Events are of the Utmost Importance for Making $$$

Yes, the Seahawk NFL season is coming up, with Thursday's first pre-season game of the year beginning at 7:00 PM.   Who is the opponent I neither know nor care but I will be there working the maddening crowds.  You too should make an appearance.  

Also, in less than a month from now, the University of Washington college football season begins with a home game on Saturday, September 2nd, at 12:55 PM.   The Husky Football stadium has a seating capacity of over 73,000, meaning it is always a good place to catch a fare during halftime and toward a game's conclusion.   Rah Rah, go Huskies!

Puget Sound Dispatch iCabbi Training this week

Don't miss it, the training beginning tomorrow morning.  The more you know about the new system, the more money you'll make.  Obvious but many do not immediately grasp what should be easy.  Check out the online schedule posted in the current PSD newsletter.  Good luck with the new system.