Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Reasons Why Behind The Seattle Taxi Industry's Current Deficiency And Overall Malaise

Did I, or do I think, given the opportunity shown by the Ottawa cab's class-action victory over the City of Ottawa, that Seattle's surviving taxi associations and drivers would embrace the moment, saying "Yes, we can do it too!"---righting the wrongs that were jammed down our throats?  Knowing the past 37 year history of Seattle cab and the many individuals involved, of course I knew the response would instead be apathy and denial.  The reality is that no energy or impetus exists to get this kind of class-action lawsuit into motion, even though the potential positive monetary outcome could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Then what is wrong, what is occurring in the collective brains that encompass the local taxi industry?  For the drivers, it is inertia, never competently understanding taxi's potential and how their attitudes, good and bad, affect outcomes.  For ownership, it has been a combination of greed and contentment, greed as in taking every possible dollar out minus any return back while remaining content to sit atop all the money made, the old "fat and happy" syndrome.  Even when the BYG Co-op (Seattle Yellow Cab) owners were making $1000.00 per cab per month, one multiple medallion owner pushed for even more profitability, the $200,000 plus he was raking in annually off the sweat and toil of the hardworking drivers simply not enough for him.  

Adding it all up, you get the answer as to why no one is going hold the City of Seattle accountable for their evil deeds, having freely allowed Uber and Lyft to operate illegally starting in 2012.  I care but I am only one person.  If I was remaining in Seattle, I would put some real effort to making the lawsuit a reality.  But since I am not going to be here, it is up to others to move forward.  As I just explained why, it isn't going to happen.  The assholes that nearly destroyed Seattle's taxi industry will not be held liable, answerable for what they did.  That is the way it is going to be, full stop.  I hope you have a good and happy Summer. 

Friday, June 7, 2024

A Letter Of Apology From The Seattle Police Circa 2014 & For-Hire Drivers Lying To Chase Bank & Busy In Kyoto, Japan & What Class-Action Lawsuit?

During this month's sorting and packing for my move to New Mexico, I discovered a letter of apology I frankly forgot about.  As any Seattle cabbie will tell you, they have been targeted by the SPD for years, with too many cab drivers losing their ability to work due to a vicious campaign minus any real explanation as to why.  That's why I always have encouraged my fellow taxi comrades to be very proactive when issued a ticket.  Many who haven't gone this route are either no longer driving or paying inflated insurance rates.  

As this letter illustrates, I never gave up when I was ticketed.  Too often, like this citation, no violation occurred.  The reality is that an Uber driver was let into the intersection just before I entered, making the traffic stop even more nonsensical, without justification.  But when you are hated, this kind of crap happens.  

The apology was appreciated but it cost me money for no good reason whatsoever.  As usual, I utilized the lawyer Doug Silva to get the ticket dismissed.  When I started driving cab all those years ago, someone failed to tell me that suddenly I had become a criminal.  I didn't know it then.  I certainly know it now.  

Your Letter to SPD Police Chief, dated 10-16-14

Dear Mr. Blondo,

I have been forwarded the letter that you sent to Chief O'Toole, dated 10-16-14, where you describe an interaction you had with a SPD officer.  I am a supervisor in the PSD Traffic Section and I am very familiar with the intersection that you describe as well as the traffic patterns during Seahawk games.

I would like to apologize to you that your interaction was not a pleasant one.  I would also like to state that you were indeed correct about Yellow Cab having a contract with the Amtrak Station to pick up train customers. The officer was obviously unaware of this contractual agreement.  I have spoken to the officer and have informed him that he should have allowed you safe access into the Amtrak Station and should not have issued the citation.  I will also be addressing the issue with all the officers who will be at the traffic section roll call before the next Seahawks game.  It is my hope that this will clear up any misunderstandings and the taxis will be allowed to enter the Amtrak Station on a game day.

As far as the citation that was issued, unfortunately, it has already been processed and is not under my control.  I suggest that you avail yourself of the opportunity to see the magistrate (Option 1 or 2 on the back of the citation). Feel free to print out a copy of this email and show it to the magistrate.

Again, I apologize for the inconvenience and it is my hope that your future interactions with Seattle Police officers will be more pleasant.  Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention so that it could be corrected and will hopefully not happen again.  Please do not hesitate to call, if you have any further questions.

Sincerely,

Sergeant Richard F. O'Neill, 

Seattle Police Department, Traffic Section, Tom 3 Squad 

__________________________________________________-

Yes, a remarkable letter, marking the second I received from local police authorities.  The first came from King County Sheriff Sue Rahf, providing a personal letter of apology after one of her Metro Under-cover officers chased me while I had two passengers in the cab. I have also received a third letter from the then-acting Chief Diaz but one I never opened due to my anger over an officer's perjury.  Perhaps one day I will open it but I will never forgive the cop for lying.  That kind of venal retribution is unforgivable.

But some good news is that Sue Rahf is back in active law enforcement, as she is now the interim Seattle Chief of Police.  There she will remain until a new Chief is named.  

Very DUMB! Eastside for Hire drivers

That these six guys are still driving at Sea-Tac is beyond me.  They should be suspended if not charged with felonies.  The situation is this.  King County has informed all the renegade drivers working the airport that they must be operating beneath the legal umbrella of an association.  Of course they call knew this but were ignoring paying association dues.  KC told them to pay up or get out of the airport.  Unbelievably, six Eastside-For Hire owners got it into their brains to report their payments were somehow fraudulent, unauthorized by them.  Unreal!  This set off a bunch of disjointed reactions from Chase Bank, making a bad situation far worse.  Accounts have been frozen, etc.  While Chase admitted their errors, weeks are required to get everything back to normal.  King County regulators should not let these scoundrels get away with this.  Teach these fools a lesson they will never forget.  Suspend them. Fine them. Kick their butts!

No Rest for Kyoto Cabbies

In part due to a weaker Yen, tourists are flooding Japan with their bodies and money.  One Kyoto cabbie says he is so busy, he won't be taking any time off, making the easy money while he can.  Good move, is what I say.

Doubtful Concerning any lawsuit

Short of me winning the lottery, there will be no lawsuit against the City of Seattle and its complicity in allowing Uber to illegally operate in Seattle in the years 2012-2014.  All the Seattle cabbies (and association management) are frozen in place.  They are not moving forward.  Nothing is going to happen.





Saturday, June 1, 2024

Murder Suspect Lee Finally Charged With The Killing of Lacey Cabbie Nick Hokema & Are You Prepared To File A Class-Action Lawsuit?

Jonathan Kang Lee was Charged with the Premeditated Murder of Cabbie Nicholas Hokema

It look over five months but finally the US Army has charged the prime (and only suspect), Specialist Lee, with the murder of Lacey, Washington RediCab driver, Nick Hokema.  In addition to murder, Lee has also been charged with robbery, resisting arrest, desertion, wrongful use of a controlled substance and two counts of failure to obey a lawful order.  In the various news reports I have read, I think one of them reported that he is facing the death penalty.  Whatever the consequences, it is unlikely that Lee will ever be released from prison, having already been sentenced for 64 years for sexually assaulting two children.  Both the sexual crimes and the murder occurred off-base, making it somewhat unusual that he was tried in a military and not in a civilian court.  This trend continues.  

The news I am waiting for is the announcement of a settlement with Hokema's survivors. By not keeping Lee in custody while awaiting trial for the sex crimes, the US Army clearly holds some legal liability for Hokema's murder.  There is not any real reason why Nick Hokema isn't alive today other than the US Army's incompetence in their pretrial approach to Lee.  The Army should have known better.  And hopefully, now they do.

Is Everyone Ready to Sue the City of Seattle?

Last week's blog post concerning the Ottawa, Canada lawsuit generated some interest and readership but will it encourage active participation is something I of yet can't answer.  I believe this time we have a much more winnable issue than when we sued King County over Green Cab medallion issuance.  At least one person believes it could be viable.  I certainly believe it holds that potential.  If anyone is interested in getting together with other cabbies and talking about it, please send me an email and I will try to organize something.  jbyello@yahoo.com.  Include your telephone number.


Sunday, May 26, 2024

Why The Ottawa Metro Taxi Lawsuit Win Against The City Of Ottawa ( And Uber) Is So Important & Yellow Paint Doesn't Make A Car A Taxi & A Final Appreciation & An Editor's Apology

Following Ottawa's Lead, Should Every American and Canadian Taxicab Company Sue Uber and their Home City? 

This quote from the judge making the ruling, Superior Court Justice Marc Smith, essentially says it all: "Uber was a bandit taxi company."  Smith found that the City of Ottawa "was negligent in enforcing its own taxi bylaws from 2014 until changes were made in 2016 to account for the growing presence of ride-hailing companies like Uber."

What is interesting about this lawsuit, and what makes it potentially a harbinger of future lawsuits against cities, like the City of Seattle, who were clearly complicit in letting Uber and Lyft operate illegally within their municipal borders, is that it shows that victory, the righting of wrongs, is possible.  All anyone has to do is to begin shifting through the evidence that exists in public records.  We know that Uber was operating illegally in Seattle for over two years.  The investigation begins there.

There is also perhaps an untold story both in Ottawa and other cities, and that is one of Uber's influence peddling.  At the 2016 Davos, Switzerland World Economic Forum, no less a prominent political entity than then US Vice-President Biden, made positive reference to Uber in his speech to that most powerful gathering of world and financial leaders.  Just prior to Biden's endorsement, who had just held a private chat with the Vice-President?  None other than Uber's CEO at the time, Travis Kalanick.  Why, back in 2014, did Jim Watson, the Ottawa mayor, claim that Uber was only a technology company, thus not subject to existing rules governing transportation companies?   Why did Seattle mayor Ed Murray suddenly reverse himself from taxi ally to Uber supporter?   It has been a question I have always hoped would someday be answered.

Here are three more quotes from Judge Smith:

"Uber provided transportation services to customers for compensation, and for two years, it refused to comply with the City's regulations."

"Uber was permitted to defy the law openly for two years without suffering any consequences whatsoever.  On the other hand, because of Uber's blatant disregard of the law, the plaintiffs suffered."

"A multinational giant was invading Ottawa, and because of the city's unpreparedness and its lack of effort to develop a plan to enforce the 2012 by-law, the city's enforcement efforts against the Uber drivers were ineffective." 

One interesting note is that Smith has deferred the $215 million judgement to a later date.  Hopefully the cabbies will be getting their money soon.  One driver was quoted as saying his earning have been cut in half since Uber's arrival.  I can believe that.  

Back in 2014, I advised BYG (Seattle Yellow Cab) to sue the City of Seattle, just like Ottawa's Metro Taxi did.  It can still be done.  We too can win a huge judgement against the City of Seattle.  We can still kick Uber's butt.  It can be done.  It only takes the will to do it.  

But in reality do I think it will happen?  No, because PSD's current General Manager would oppose it even though he personally would receive part of any settlement, just like I would.  But it really isn't a question of money.  It is more about justice and accountability.  Mayor Murray, along with Sally Clark and the other Seattle City Council members, murdered Seattle's taxi industry.  That wasn't nice.  I was there in the council chambers when the vote was taken. I will never forget that moment.  I will never forgive them. 

The Seattle Times Headline read: "Woman killed in taxicab crash near Pioneer Square; truck driver arrested"

The big problem here is that a taxi wasn't involved in this fatality accident.  A yellow-colored Prius, minus lettering and toplight, was rear-ended by a truck, directly impacting three passengers seated in the back, killing one of them.   The accident, in a more comprehensive report released by KOMO News, displayed multiple photographs clearly showing a yellow Toyota Prius minus any lettering or regalia signifying it as a taxicab.  Not having a toplight is a clear giveaway that it was a TNC (Uber or Lyft) app operated vehicle.  Now there is a very good chance that the car was once a Yellow Cab though obviously not any longer.  If the reporters had bothered to take a closer look, they would have noticed that the car bore neither a City or County issued medallion plate located next to the license plate.  

The reason why all this is significant is the long bias directed against cabbies and their taxicabs. Despite the headline, I am guessing that if a poll of readers were taken, nearly 50% of them would say that somehow the cab driver was somehow responsible, even though a cabbie wasn't in any manner involved.  

I sent an email to the Seattle Times requesting a correction but really its too late, the damage already done, sloppy reporting by both KOMO and the newspaper stating that a cab was involved.  This is a classic case of not being able to believe what you read.  

And from my long experience, no one truly cares if their opinion or reporting about the taxi industry is accurate.  They already know the answer, taxi guilty as charged by public opinion!  Guilty as sin, guilty of driving a cab, the cabbie a cultural criminal weaving headlong down the roadway.  And for many, wishing he/she is heading directly to a jail cell, bread and water their daily repast. 

Is this an exaggeration?  Drive a cab and you too will answer, "Hell no it isn't!"

Thanks again, everyone!

A big hug to PSD, Minette, Greg, Deb and Cindi for donating toward Dennis Roberts' burial expenses.  The taxi angels sing your praise!

Editor's Apology 

Before I reread it, I allowed last week's blog to go "off to the presses" extremely flawed, riddled with errors big and small.  Sorry about that.  When I was at the Columbia Falls, Montana library, I let myself be pressured by the closing time, failing to do a proper proofing.  Always a mistake to rush.  Yes, I too can be an idiot!  JB

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Greetings From Columbia Falls, Montana: Update On Dennis Roberts' Burial & Targeted: The Black African Immigrant's Dilemma Living In America Today & Uber Loses To Ottawa, Canada Cabbies

 Dennis Roberts is now buried next to his parents

Call it mission accomplished as Dennis was buried today at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Columbia Falls, Montana.  A surprise awaited me because I didn't expect to find both his mother's and father's grave sites but there they were, side by side.  Knowing that his father died in Snohomish County, I didn't know that his body was later transported to Montana, relieving any doubt I had that Ruth Roberts was indeed Dennis's mother.   Tomorrow I will be taking a picture of the gravesite, and if I can figure out how to post it, it will be found on this specific posting.   If anyone ever gets close to this part of Montana, you will find their graves in the NE corner of the cemetery.  Once entering the cemetery, take your first right and drive forward to the end.  Look to your left and you will find all three members of the Roberts family.  The address is 2310 9th West, adjacent to the Super 1 supermarket.  Easy to find.

America Not Always a Paradise, Especially If Your Skin Is Not White

Recently I saw a photograph of a very dark skinned Black African mother and her son slogging through the dense Panamanian jungle that is the Darien Gap.  For all her efforts, I doubted if she truly knew much about the country she was trying to reach.  Like too many, I am guessing that like millions before her, she had embraced the mythology of the USA as the beacon of light and liberty, a place friendly and welcoming.  But mythology is one thing, reality quite another kind of question yet to be faced by anyone seeking entry into the United States.  A brief historical accounting brings clarity to murky assumptions. 

In 1882, in 1917, and in 1924, the American Congress passed bills signed into law by American presidents both denying and limiting entry to various ethic groups.  In 1882, it was President Chester A. Arthur who signed the Chinese Exclusion Act.  In 1917, Woodrow Wilson gave his signature to an immigration act containing the requirement that all immigrants over the age of 16 prove literacy in some language, failure usually resulting in exclusion and deportation.  The bill also contained a provision increasing taxes on the head of each new immigrant.  Calvin Coolidge (do yourself a big favor and read the Sinclair Lewis novel from 1928, "The Man Who Knew Coolidge") signed the Johnson-Read Act that not only banned Japanese immigration but greatly limited the number of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe.  I'm lucky to be here, as I think only one of grandparents could initially read; and since three were from Hungary and one from Sicily, fortunate they arrived in the late 19th Century.  My father was born in 1917, my mother in 1919. 

Most eastern seaboard emigration came thorough Ellis Island in New York City between the years 1892-1954, over 12 million immigrants arriving on its shore during that 64 year span.  2 percent were denied entry, with over 120,000 deported.  One of the more horrific events involving migrants was the American refusal, at the port of Miami, Florida in 1939, to allow the entry of nearly 1000 mostly German Jews fleeing Hitler aboard the Steamship Saint Louis.  Instead, the Saint Louis set sail back across the Atlantic Ocean, carrying its passengers back to an uncertain fate.  254 of those once hopeful migrants were later murdered by the Nazis.  

Closer to home, even though the Black African immigrant has made it to the USA, even obtaining  citizenship, it doesn't always translate into an ascension past America's heavenly gates.  Too often, taxi and Uber friends of mine are subjected to threats and accusations simply because they are black.  Male black African drivers are often being banned by both Uber and Lyft by unsubstantiated allegations made by female passengers. It is hard to fight hatred when you are black and your attackers are white.  In the 19th and 20th centuries in the USA, at least 3,446 mostly black victims were lynched, hung from trees and light posts.  Welcome to America, land of barely disguised discrimination. 

A friend of mine is assisting a Somali woman (via Kenya) who is caught up in web of racist innuendo, falsely accused of illegally gaining COVID-19 pandemic funds for the unemployed.  She caught the attention of Federal agents by her frequent journeys out of the country, including to her boyfriend in Turkey.  Though having done nothing wrong, because she is black, because she is Muslim, because she is Somali, because she is unusually independent, she has been targeted and persecuted by the American government.  It is costing her much money to defend herself while facing years of Federal imprisonment.  If her skin was of a lighter shade, would anyone have noticed her?

Her biggest mistake?  Thinking she was like every other American, having bought into the illusion that America is the "home of the brave, land of the free."  Truer of course if you are white but even I, in 1972, faced conscription (the Vietnam-Era draft) and the reality of going to prison if I didn't cooperate.  Welcome now to USA 2024 where tens of millions support an autocrat for president.  As much as changed, little in reality has changed.  As the rock & roll band Steppenwolf sang in 1969:

"Yeah, there's monster on the loose.  Its got our heads in a noose.  And it just sits there watching."

"America, where are you now?  Don't you care about your sons and daughters. Don't you know we need you now.  We can't fight alone against the monster!"

As you might imagine, it was not their most successful or popular record.  America had just elected a monster for president, Richard Nixon.  People like monsters, thinking they only exist in fairy tales.  If only that fantasy was true. 

Ottawa Cabbies Win 215 million Dollar Judgement

In a class-action law suit, the Ottawa taxi industry won a judgement against the City of Ottawa for allowing and not stopping Uber's entry into the taxi market.  More on this in a later post.  It is what we in Seattle should have done.  All of us have lived that failure.




Sunday, May 5, 2024

Thank You! Puget Sound Dispatch (Seattle Yellow Cab) & WA ST Ferry Summer Rate Increases & Manhattan Congestion Pricing & Seattle Traffic Congestion

 A Big, Pleasant Surprise from PSD

Yesterday I dropped by the Yellow Cab office to place a flyer and photograph advertising my GoFundMe campaign for Dennis Roberts' burial expenses.  Lema (PSD's owner) asked me what I was doing, and finding out it was for Dennis, he had his daughter Marta write me a check for $600.00, the total amount I was seeking.  That I was grateful goes without saying.  Minette and Greg, longtime staffers I have known for at least 25 years, each contributed an Andrew Jackson.  Everyone had kind words and fond memories concerning Dennis.  He was unforgettable, and no one has forgotten him, emotions translating into a final positive goodbye. 

I also had a good conversation with Marta, who is attempting to mold PSD and all those unruly drivers into a more functional unit.  They are now holding drivers who dump bells (fares) accountable, suspending them for days at a time.  We talked about training, and she was receptive to that possibility.  She is also working on getting dispatch (based in the Philippines) back on a more efficient track, as concerns I have brought up many times years ago continue to plague the callcenter.  Now that there is no longer a dysfunctional governing board screwing up the works, hope exists for a new and better Seattle Yellow Cab. 

As I told her, in the past I have offered to create a comprehensive driver training curriculum that could, if followed, would greatly improve and enhance driver performance.  And one reason these lunkheads would pay attention because it's me doing the teaching.  Whether I have any credibility anywhere else is an open question, but in Seattle Taxi-land, I have status, something everyone's knows I've earned, attempting at times to do the nearly impossible: creating sanity out of complete bedlam. 

I would enjoy contributing to the greater taxi knowledge.  Drivers would make more money.  Passenger service and pickups would improve by 25-50 %.  I know the tricks.  All they would have to do is pay attention and remember at least half of what I am saying.  Study materials would be there for them to take home.  

My courses would be what the City/County classes should have been, created and taught by someone who has driven and knows the business inside and out.  I am interested in transforming the guys into REAL cabbies, something not achieved by that once City/County mandatory training.   Success in the Taxi World is all fueled by the making of money.  If listened to me, these recalcitrant cabbies will be making a lot of money for themselves.  I guarantee it. Taxi driving overall is a simple business but you can't be a simpleton when operating beneath the toplight, dumb becomes ignorance becoming drivers surly and uncooperative.  That can all change.

Again, PSD, thanks much for the monetary support.  The taxi angels sing!  Believe it!

On May 1st, WA St Summer Ferry rates kicked in

All you cabbies having to take a passenger across the Sound will not be thrilled to know you will be paying more for the privilege.  The rates on local runs are now 25 % more, with San Juan Island runs up 35 %.  Enjoy the voyage and don't feed your passengers to the sharks.  No way to get a tip.

Manhattan Congestion Pricing starts June 30th, 2024

Beginning June 30th, New York City begins their much debated congestion toll in an attempt to reduce the insane nightmarish congestion that is Manhattan traffic.  The average vehicular speed in that clogged environment is 4.3 mph.  Pedestrians walking down the sidewalks average 3 mph.  The goal is to remove 100,000 vehicles per day.  Cars will pay $15.00.  Trucks and tour buses will pay between $24-36.00.  Motorcycles pay $7.50.  Taxis add $1.25 to the fare.  TNCs add $2.50.  Tolls either end or are reduced between the hours of 9:00 PM-5:00 AM.  Low income and disabled drivers can apply for discounted rates and exemptions.

When I was in Manhattan in 2010, attending that year's book fair, I vividly remember walking out of the building to a sea of stopped cars, all interlocked in a nearly unmoving grid.  More than one cabbie was marooned in that idling ocean.  It was awful to witness.  Sure, there is wait time but the cabbie only really makes money when the taxi is moving.  I read of one veteran cabbie complaining about the fare increase but it makes sense that he will be making more, not less money because he will be freer to move over the streets. 

Seattle's Traffic is little better

Thursday I took my once regular passenger, Pat, around the North-end, allowing her to visit various banks and stores.  In my 3 1/2 hours of negotiating the roadways, it struck me just how horrible of a work environment the average Seattle cabbie has to deal with on a daily basis.  The traffic that afternoon was stupid, cars everywhere and the drivers in those cars underserving of their licenses.  Seattle drivers are fools and idiots.  Sorry for the generalization but its damn true.  These people are dangerous. Glad, more than happy not to be working out there.  It is nuts.  



Friday, April 26, 2024

New Flat Rates From Downtown And Pier 91 & Starkly Illustrating The Damage Done To The American Taxi Industry: 170,000 Daily Rides Provided By Uber And Lyft in San Francisco & GoFundMe For Dennis Roberts Burial & Farwest And Eastside Dispatch Merger On The Taxi Horizon & A Taxi-Oriented Dream & Some Folks Never Learn: TNC Drivers Cannot Take Cash Fares And Pretend They Are Insured

New Flat Rates from DT and Pier-91

Beginning May 1st, the flat rate from P-91 to Sea-Tac will be $55.00.

From Downtown, beginning June 1st, the flat rate to Sea-Tac will be $45.00. 

Taxi Brothers and Sisters, that is a lot of rides

I find this statistic astounding, that Uber and Lyft provides over 170 thousand rides daily in a city with a population of 808,000.  That translates into almost one-fifth of everyone living in San Francisco daily taking a ride-share trip to where ever they might be going.  From my personal experience driving taxi in similarly sized Seattle, we never came close to providing that many rides in a given day.  Even if the demand was there, our overall number of cabs would have never been able to keep up.  

Someone with a better mathematical mind than I have needs to tell me just how many TNC operators are needed to provide 170,000 rides.  I do know that by 2015, one year after Uber and Lyft were allowed to operate legally in Seattle and King County, there were over 28,000 TNC drivers vs our more or less 1500 City and County cabs.  In a 2016 CBS News report, it said there were 45,000 Uber drivers in San Francisco vs 1,800 local taxis.  Compounding that reality for both Seattle and San Francisco was Uber's then much lower rate structures, underselling the price of a ride. Of course, once they had essentially killed off taxi, Uber substantially raised its rates. 

As 170,000 rides figure illustrates, Uber and Lyft rules San Francisco's personal transportation industry.  While it was just reported that Waymo robotaxis provided 530,000 rides from September 2023-February 2024 in San Francisco, it is nothing in comparison to Uber and Lyft's numbers.  In a 31-day month, Uber and Lyft provides 5,270,000 rides.  That is a crazy number of trips.  Who can compete with that number of passenger-generated rides?  Certainly not the cabbies in San Francisco.  As I have said too many times, Uber won the transportation wars.  Taxi is roadkill, run over and smashed into the asphalt. 

New GoFundMe effort for the late Dennis Roberts

Many of you might remember that our famous taxi colleague, Dennis Roberts, succumbed to the COVID-19 virus in April 2020, an early victim to that terrible disease.  A first GoFundMe effort assisted in paying for his cremation.  Now, on this upcoming May 14th, I will be burying his ashes next to his mother at Woodlawn Cemetery in Columbia Falls, Montana.  I am taking care of my own expenses and would like some help with the $600.00 for burial and headstone.  Donate what you can.

https://www.gofundme.com/honoring-dennis-roberts-a-cabbies-final-journey 

Or you can send a check to me: Joe Blondo, POB 20023, Seattle, WA 98102  

Is This Really Gonna Happen?

I have been assured that the much anticipated dispatch merger between Farwest Taxi and Eastside-for-Hire will be complete by the end of April.  More details when I know them.  You might remember, I once reported a possible merger between Farwest and Yellow.  It never happened. 

Still Dreaming about Taxi

Yesterday morning, I dreamt that a person minus any taxi experience, was going to take over Seattle taxi.  I grabbed him by one arm, my friend Chris taking the other, and we escorted him out of the door, roughing him up.  This being a dream, he kind of evaporated in our arms.  We took care of him! the a-hole! 

Some TNC Drivers Don't Know Much about Passenger Liability 

In late June, I am going to need a ride from Silver City, New Mexico to the local airport. It is located a number of miles outside of town in the middle of the countryside.  Advanced Air, the only airline serving Silver City/Grant County, gave me the telephone number of the only Uber/Lyft driver in the area.  Calling him, he said he also takes cash.  When I asked him if he had commercial insurance, he got mad.  I told him if an accident occurs, there would be no coverage.  He didn't like hearing any of this.  He is in denial.  But reality is reality, and in this case reality could bite this guy in the butt.  Same thing in Seattle.  Too many times I watched passengers at King Street Station and Pier 66 climb into ride-share cars minus the app.  When will the dumbbell drivers ever learn?








Saturday, April 20, 2024

Atlanta, Georgia Cabbies Don't Want To Be Like Uber & Cruise Ship Season Really Starts May 11th & Don't Miss Working The Rolling Stones Concert May 15th

 "We do not want to be Uber!"

150 Atlanta taxi drivers appeared at a recent Atlanta City Council meeting to protest proposed changes to their industry by Council-member Byron Amos, someone who has never driven a cab.  In a misguided effort to "level the playing field" with Uber and Lyft, Amos has proposed eliminating meters, top-lights and fleet color requirements, somehow thinking this would improve the financial lot of local cabbies.  "No, no!" they shouted, this is not anything we want, angrily complaining that they have never been consulted during what Amos described as "three years of negotiations."  Who exactly he was negotiating with, nobody knows.  Two sympathetic council members pulled their names off the bill, saying more examination was needed.  Amos said he will meet with the cabbies.  Let's hope he does.  

Anybody with a long history with the taxi industry knows too well that what was happening in Atlanta is an old, never ending story.  Just as in Seattle, non-industry folks are dictating working reality despite never having toiled beneath the toplight.  While Council-member Amos and others might be well meaning, they are clueless, destroying the industry while trying to save it.  If they truly want to assist the cabbies, they should begin by placing restrictions upon Uber and Lyft, beginning with limiting the number of operators allowed to work in the City of Atlanta.  

Now that would be something the cabbies would support.  Not only do they not want to be like Uber, they want Uber to get the hell out of Atlanta.  Not possible but that's what they want but something never ever to be agreed to.  Uber has the money.  What do the cabbies have?  Little to nothing save a loud voice.  Keep yelling!  I can hear you all the way up here in Seattle.  Shout away!

On May 11th, Pier 91 is where the action will be

That weekend, both Saturday and Sunday, two huge cruise ships will dock at Pier 91, four boats total with thousands of passengers.  P-66 too will have its big ship.  That is when the easy money begins flowing.  Wakeup early and get to the docks.  By 9:00 AM the passengers will be looking for cabs and TNCs.  Get those airport runs, with hundreds of airport trips to be had.  

The Rolling Stones will be Rocking the Seahawk Stadium on Wednesday, May 15th

That's right, maybe the biggest Rock concert of the year will happen that mid-week.  The money will be there.  Last time the Stones were in Seattle I had three $100.00 plus fares.  My last fare netted me $180.00.  Only time I ever had three $100.00 plus trips on a single day.  Go for it!  Get that money!

 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

MV (Metro Account) Found Underpaying Milage To Drivers & Helpful Info For TNC Drivers & Another "Taxi" Letter From The NY Times Metropolitan Diary & Australian Cabbies Win Big Settlement Against Uber & Still No Charges Filed Against The Taxi Murder Suspect & Don't Honk That Horn In NYC

MV Contract with King County Metro: Confusion or Dishonesty 

Before I go any further explaining problems King County and others are having with the transportation provider known as MV, here is a statement taken from their website, calling it their "MV Vision,"

"We will deliver the best customer experience with industry leading safety, reliability, and innovation." 

If this statement was completely true, there would be no problems but sometimes, words are merely that, words minus real action and intent.  MV has been found deficient recently in two areas: timely payment to KC Metro approved transportation vendors, and not paying drivers for total miles driven.  I have been told that King County officials were not happy upon finding these allegations to be totally true, demanding explanation.  MV, as the report goes, was contrite.  One vendor is requesting that MV utilize Google Map Miles when making milage estimations and determinations. 

Toward the end of my Seattle Yellow Cab driving, I had stopped serving the MV account, finding them arrogant and unresponsive.  That might be because MV is the largest privately-owned passenger transportation contracting firm in the entire USA.  They annually transport 110 million passengers in 30 states and Canada.  In 2022, they reported 1.3 billion dollars in annual revenue.  Has all this success inflated the corporate heads, like Seattle's local Boeing Aircraft Company?  I believe it has but given that MV is much smaller, and King County is the USA's largest county, they might be more accountable in the future.  A major reason all this became an issue was MV's unforgivable behavior, inexplicably not paying a small transportation provider for three connective months. It was irresponsible.  MV must do better. 

Uber and Lyft Drivers: Write down this information

A few days ago, I talked on the telephone to Gloria from the TNC Driver Union.  Yes, she said, there has been an uptick in bogus complaints directed toward black African drivers. The Union is trying to stop this behavior.  They are there to help you but many of the drivers have no clue how to contact them.  Here is what you need.  Write it down.

There is a TNC Driver Resolution Center. Go to the L&I webpage: Resource Center and Deactivations (wa.org)

support@driversunionwa.org      Call: 206-812-0829.   Website:  www.driversunionwa.org

 Uber and Lyft are now both overly reactive when addressing what might be considered "offensive sexual" complaints, including asking a passenger out for a date.  Protect yourself.  I recommend that you have an audio recorder on when transporting any solo female passengers.  Put a sticker on the window stating that "all fares are recorded."  You must protect yourself.  As a cabbie I was accused of everything beneath the toplight short of murder.  Nasty passengers make stories up to attack you.  It is an never ending reality associated with transporting strangers.  Not only can it happen, it will happen.  

Another Positive Taxi Tale from the NY Times Metropolitan Diary, April 7th, 2024 Edition

"The Pearl Fishers"

Dear Diary,

I am 84 and been fortunate to spend decades devouring Manhattan's cultural scene.  I have slowed down a bit now because of my age and balance issues, and I keep my social and cultural events confined to daylight hours.

Not long ago, though, I was invited to an evening gathering that I just couldn't resist.  The later hour meant taking a cab home, something I mostly avoid.

As the cab pulled up, I noticed the driver was very scruffy, and my anxiety increased.  But I needed to get home, so I pushed my trepidation aside and got in.

Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by the sound of my favorite opera duet.

"Oh," I said with great astonishment, "The Pearl Fishers."

"You know your opera," the driver replied.  He began to sing along with the recording beautifully and continued until we got to my home.

When we arrived at my building, he waited until I was safely inside the front door.  It was the best cab ride I had ever had in more than 50 years of living in Manhattan.

Jan Keith

_____________________

Nice story.  And one something very unusual about Jan's letter is that she is a very good writer.  Construction and vocabulary are excellent.  It is too bad that she never got the chance to ride in American composer Phillip Glass's cab when he was working the New York taxi streets back in the 1970s.  But her opera singing cabbie was a good substitute.  God knows he could have been a professional down-on-his-luck singer.  As I have always said about the American taxi industry, it is our version of the French Foreign Legion.  We have gotten everybody---human driftwood cast upon the taxi shores.

Aussie Cabbies Beat Bad Uber

It appears that the might of 8000 cabbies scared the hell out of Uber, opting to settle a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of those aggrieved drivers.  The settlement, which I believe is in Australian, not American dollars, is for $270.8 million dollars. In USA dollars, that's $176 million dollars.  Unfortunately, lawyers will be getting up to $35 million dollars for their law fees.  Investigation found that Uber had repeated in Australia what what they have done across the globe---illegally evading enforcement when invading a targeted market.  The settlement meant that Uber avoided having all their secrets exposed to the general public.  For Uber, it is merely the cost of doing business.  For all the cabbies who lost their livelihoods, it means redemption. 

What the Hell is the US Army Doing?

A recent email from my Tacoma Tribune contact, the reporter Craig Sailor who was assigned to the case involving the murder of a Olympia/Lacey cabbie by a AWOL soldier, said that the suspect Lee remains uncharged.  It has been nearly 3 months.  Why, why, why is this happening?  The US Army remains close mouthed about it, not telling Craig Sailor or anyone else what is going on.  Whatever you do, don't enlist in the US Army.  You will be in trouble in ways you never imagined, including getting killed in action.  Unless of course you are somehow promoted instantly to the rank of at least an one-star general.  Then you might have a good time, sitting on your military throne and stepping on the many poor souls beneath you.

Honking Big Fines in the Big Apple

I have been well aware that the City of Seattle can ticket you for honking your car horn but didn't know that NYC has had anti-honking laws on the books since the 1930s.  Violate the "NY City Noice Code" and you can be fined from $800.00-$2,500 dollars.  Now that isn't the kind of ticket anyone wants issued to them.  Crazy.  But hopefully, during performances of Gershwin's "An American in Paris," they don't ticket musicians honking their ersatz Parian Taxi horns.  In the original premier performance in1928 staged in NYC, they used real horns from Paris taxis, probably taken from a 1928 Peugeot  Landaulet, then the most commonplace cab in Paris.  Beep Beep!



Friday, April 5, 2024

If You Think You Seattle Cabbies Have It Bad, It Is Nothing Like The Taxco de Alarcon, Mexico Taxi Drivers & Busy Alaska Cruise Ship Reason Begins This Saturday April 6th & New Insurance Rates Through The Taxi Roof

 No Fun for Cab Drivers in Taxco, Mexico, One of Mexico's Famous Silver Cities 

While Seattle cabbies have been subject over these many years to belligerent cops, rampant road rage and racial discrimination and profiling, it pales in the color scheme to what the Taxco taxi drivers are experiencing.  Taxco, home to a centuries long tradition of silver handcrafting, draws tourists from around the globe, making it a good place to drive taxi. But unfortunately for Taxco cabbies, Taxco is located in the Mexican state of Guerrero, a part of Mexico in large part controlled by Mexican Drug Cartel gangs who, in addition to smuggling drugs to the United States and Europe, also extort money from cabbies, van drivers and other local businesses.  If you don't pay up, they kill you.  

A recent Taxco cab driver strike occurred when one member of their fraternity was murdered.  Four bus/van drivers were also murdered in a warning to all who would not pay.  And to display that they mean business, two Taxco police detectives were also murdered, their bullet-ridden, tortured bodies discovered outstde of town.   How this will ultimately end is predictable: the murders will continue until the cabbies relent and pay up.  

In Mexico, less than 5% of the many thousands of annual murders ever result in arrest and conviction.  To the Drug Cartels, everyone is expendable.  When they threaten to kill you, you can be assured they will follow through and do it if you resist their authority.  Making matters worse, Mexico's president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, does little to nothing to stop the Cartel's criminal rampage.  "They also have families, you must understand," he says.  

Soon he will be leaving office and suddenly, there is a good chance he will be living the life of a millionaire.  Many will question his new lifestyle but Mexico being Mexico there will be no accountability for his living the "good life" while Taxco cabbies dodge Narco bullets.  

Pay or die, and everyone knows the reason why.  

Cruising Begins: P-66, Saturday April 6th

Yes everyone, it is that time of year again, along with the first red robin singing and yellow daffodils blooming, that the first giant cruise ship of the year will be docking in Seattle disembarking all those dumbbell tourists needing to go here and there and everywhere.  Scanning the schedule, there appears to be a real cruise ship invasion this Spring, Summer and Fall, with arrivals not only on Saturday and Sunday but also Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  Go git em!  

24.7 % Rate Increase Granted

This morning's "The Seattle Times" features a story about WA State residents freaking out over new car insurance rates. The State of Washington government gave this rate increase to the insurers voluntarily due to the many car accidents occurring statewide.  Ain't it sad that the insurers have to pay up?  And sadder still is that we WA State residents have to pay for other's poor driving decisions.  How is that fair?  Why must all of us pay for the sins of others?  Where is the priest with whom I can confess, "I didn't do nothing, I swear it!"  Problem is, even with a priest's benison, my higher insurance premiums will remain, even God's intervention not enough to sway away Beelzebub's invective---damnation on the roadways our personal Hades, the flames licking upon our heels and tires. 

Monday, March 25, 2024

The Big Changeover Of Flat Rate For Hire Vehicles Into Taxis: For Hire Vehicle Conversion Guidance & A Letter From The NY Times Metropolitan Diary & Everyone Should Read The 2023 Trip Advisor Seattle Yellow Cab Reviews & Down Farwest Taxi Memory Lane

You Have Until March 31st, 2026 

On March 15th, 2024, Seattle and King County sent out a link to all flat-rate for hire medallion owners outlining what is going happen by March 2026: all flat-rate for vehicles will become taxis. This quote makes it clear: "The decision to convert is permanent and irreversible."  I am sure they expressed it that way intentionally, knowing full well that denial is the commonplace response in the taxi industry.  The link also contains an application to convert the medallion from flat-rate to taxi.  The link's 4 pages contained some very straight forward information, like telling applicants that a dispatch company is required and that meters or smart meters must be installed.  What I found most interesting is the statement that all flat-rate for hire vehicle medallions will remain the same, unlike taxi medallions that will become regional.  If your medallion is King County only, your taxi medallion will be the same.  Doesn't seem fair but who asked me? 

Finally, A Taxi Hero

What I have here is a complete letter written to the New York Times "Metropolitan Diary" concerning my kind of cabbie.

"Give Him a Hand"

Dear Diary,

I got into a cab on a rainy night to go see my child's nanny in a play on the Lower East Side. I had an umbrella, my bag and a tote with me.

When I got to to the theater, I got out of the cab quickly and forgot my tote. Oh, well.

Just before the play started, the driver appeared, walked to the front of the theater and asked whether anyone in the audience had left a tote in his cab.

It's mine, I shouted.

As I got up to retrieve it, he received a standing ovation.

Seattle Yellows Cab's Puget Sound Dispatch is Awful 

In these pages over the many years, I have written many times just how bad the dispatching has become at Seattle Yellow Cab. If you don't believe me, here are a few complaints taken from the "Trip Advisor" website.  I encourage everyone to read the many reviews blasting Yellow Cab.  The positive reviews concern cabs picked up at the airport.  Note, not dispatched.

from Elizabeth A---Terrible Issues, October 2023

"I tried several times to get a taxi to pick up my family (me and my grandson), but every time the taxi cancelled.  After three hours I gave up, but missed my bus and was stranded overnight."

from Sean A---Don't. Garbage Company, June 2023

"I book a Yellow cab to take my friend to the airport.  I watched our assigned driver pick up someone else and proceed to drive off on their tracking map, while telling me that we had been picked up on their web app.

This resulted in missing our flight.  Never waste money with these frauds. We ended up using Uber, which, while more expense, at least delivered the service.

This is why taxi companies deserve to die out."

___________________________________________

Pretty harsh reality expressed here. Elizabeth is stranded and Sean misses his flight.  The fault here lies with the City of Seattle and King County.  I have told them time and again that they had to do something about the poor and inefficient service provided by Puget Sound Dispatch.  They act helpless. They can't do anything, they keep repeating to me.  Doing nothing is not the answer.  There are too many reviews like these.  People are being greatly affected by the idiotic service that is PSD.  It's true!  It's obvious!  It's factual!

Farwest Taxi 1990

Sunday, walking back to my car after visiting the DT Seattle Art Museum, I spoke to the doorman working the Hilton Hotel.  Back in the day, he and his father owned 7 Farwest cabs.  We talked how great the business was at Farwest back in the "good, old days."  But he said, along came the Punjabi Indians and they destroyed the company.  I saw that too.  Sad but true, the Punjabis, in their greed, blew up a great company.  It didn't take them every long.  In that way, they were very efficient.




Sunday, March 17, 2024

25.5 Million Dollar Judgement Against Atlanta Taxi Company & Unaffordable Seattle---Hwy 520 Tolls Going Up in August & A Trip Back In Taxi Memory: "I Am Going To Take An Axe And Chop Off Your Head" & Finally, Seattle Is Number One In Something Worth Celebrating

If We Needed One, Another Story As To Why The USA Taxi Industry Fell To Uber

As commonplace as taxi at-fault accidents causing serious injury, or even death are, the accident occurring on August 29th, 2003 in Atlanta, Georgia, was anything but usual, caused by a interconnected chain of events featuring incompetence, hubris and plain stupidity that exemplified the American taxi industry then and now, indifference the prevailing theme.  Just last week, a 25.5 million dollar judgement against Atlanta United Express Cabs was awarded o the husband of a passenger killed back in 2003.  The main obstacle to a much earlier court settlement was the State of Georgia's DOT's (Department of Transportation) legal actions over the years, denying any culpability due to the accident occurring on a rainy night upon a poorly maintained and designed roadway.  DOT took their arguments all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court before finally getting the ruling they wanted.  The facts of the case are as follows.

On August 28th, 2003, the day before the fatal accident, the driver, Aballah Adem, took the cab in to the Atlanta Taxi Bureau for the car's semi-annual inspection.  The car was passed and deemed safe even though both rear tires were bald, and in obvious violation of the measurable minimum tread depth of 2/32 inches. Compounding this error was the inspector himself, seven years on the job, and not knowing or understanding legal tire tread requirements.  Aiding his incompetence was both the driver's and cab company's failure to notice the faulty tires and replace them.  

Fast forwarding to the next day, August 29th, Adem was transporting a female passenger on her way to a $500,000 a year job interview.  Adem lost control of his cab on the rain-slicked highway, veering across three lanes and running into a tree, where his passenger was unfortunately catapulted out of the cab and decapitated. Yes, a very horrible and very avoidable accident.  Further insult was the sentencing of Aballah Adem, on August 23rd, 2005, when, after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide, he was slapped with probation and a mandatory defensive driving course.  That was it.  That was his punishment. 

Without much further comment, I know that all my readers understand the underlying implications to this story, highlighting the obvious.  The American Taxicab industry deserves what it has gotten, and whether it understands that the deathknell is tolling for thee is doubtful, very doubtful.  Their ears are plugged, their eyes covered but unfortunately their mouths and tongues are still rattling away.  Who wants to hear their prattle?  Not me, not me.  

Seattle Used to be Cheap

But not anymore.  Soon drivers on State Route 520 (the Evergreen Point Bridge) will be paying a peak $4.95 on weekdays, and midday rates of $3.95 M-F.   The bridge thanks you!

He Has a Sharp Axe

A few days ago, as I was mailing a letter, I heard a honk and it was "H", a taxi colleague from my earliest days dating back to September 1987.  My first meeting with him was unforgettable.  I was parked behind his all black-colored taxi on the Olympic Hotel cab stand.  While leaning against my cab, some idiot teenagers ran past, with one slamming his hand on the black cab's trunk.  Out leaps "H" and this is what he said:  "I am going to take an axe and chop off your head."  This of course was a remarkable statement but alas, he did not chase after the kid and behead him,  Not saying he didn't deserve it but a jury trial first was to be recommended.  I like "H".  He is "something else!" 

We Are All "Slim and Trim" in Seattle

The USA obesity rate embraces 42% of the population but not in Seattle.  Seattle is rated the leanest town wearing the skinny crown.  Interestingly, all the "too heavy" cities reside in the South.  Too much grits?

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Waymo Expands to Los Angles And Bay Area Freeways & Yellow Won't Pick Up At 100 Crockett Street & Warning About Cabbies----Not A Ringing Endorsement & For-Hire Numbers Have Reached the One Hundred Thousand Figure

The California Public Utilities Commission's (CPUC) New Questionable Decision

Despite the Mayor of Los Angeles' protests, the CPUC has opened up parts of Los Angeles (and the Bay Area) roadways and highways to more Waymo robotaxi service.  This expansion means that the driverless cabs will be able to zoom along on LA freeways at 65 MPH.   As someone who has extensive experience driving LA roads, I call this a recipe for disaster.  The CPUC ignored the February 6th accident in San Francisco, where a Waymo cab struck a bicyclist.  Thankfully, the injuries were minor. 

The City of Los Angeles pleaded with the commission to wait for State Senate Bill 915, currently under consideration, giving California cities more regulatory ability to control their own streets, to see if the bill passes but no, said the CPUC, we can't do that.  All it is going to take is for the next Waymo accident to be fatal, then everything will stop.  Will the CPUC apologize?   I don't think so. 

You Are Not Going to Get a Cab at Queen Anne Manor, so Why Even Try?

A once regular customer of mine has moved to senior housing on the top of Queen Anne Hill, the address being 100 Crockett.  When I was driving I  picked up there many times but no more it appears as Yellow cabbies are refusing to pick up there despite numerous requests.  Why?  Because they all assume it is just some old lady going to a grocery store, meaning it isn't worth their time to pick up the customer.  This is an old story and it isn't going away.  Nothing happens to a driver who throws the bell away.  No one cares. Not Puget Sound Dispatch.  Not the City or King County.  No one cares as the elderly customers sits and waits, waits, waits for the never arriving cab.  I care.  Do you?

Criminal Cabbies

Here is a quote from a NY Times article, "US Warns Spring Breakers Headed to Mexico, Jamaica and the Bahamas,", reported by Vjosa Isai: "A lot of times, there's not a lot of gap between criminals and taxi drivers in many countries, so using a trusted transportation provider is huge."  This from Scott Stewart, Torchstone Global Security.   Isn't that nice, jump in a Jamaican cab and get robbed. Wonderful.  Nothing like crime to go with your suntan. 

So Much for the Good Old Taxi Days

A taxi buddy, when trying to renew his TNC (Uber/Lyft) for-hire noticed that the new licensing numbers have reached over the one hundred thousand driver figure.  Does it mean that there are now over 100,000 TNC drivers in Seattle and King County?  Probably not but the TNC drivers certainly surpass the past number of cabbies operating in Seattle and KC.  At most I think we had 3000 cabbies at any one time.  As I will tell anyone who asks, this is why Uber and Lyft were allowed to break the law and eventually destroy the local taxi industry.  It is all about money, and all those new for-hires are generating big money for the county.  Who cares about a professional cab service?  No one is the answer. 


Sunday, March 3, 2024

Update On The Murder of RediCab Driver Nick Hokema & The Silliness That Is The Seattle Business License & Car Insurance Rates Are Up

 Is The United States Army Afraid They Are Going To Be Blamed for Hokema's Murder?

Two days ago,  in a Tacoma New Tribune article reported by Craig Sailor, it was announced that US Army Specialist Jonathan Kang Lee is now considered an official suspect, if not THE suspect.  For those new to this story, it appears that Lee stole Hokema's cab after murdering him, driving the car to Redmond, Washington, where, two weeks later, he was found hiding out in a house.  At the time of the murder, Lee was considered a deserter, having left Fort Lewis on January 14th five days prior to his scheduled trial on the 19th for sexually assaulting two underage children, ages 6 and 7.   In a KOMO news release, Nicole Sharkody, Hokema's girlfriend asked why Lee hadn't been held in custody, which is a very good question considering, that after Lee's desertion, he was convicted in absentia and sentenced to 64 years in prison.  Given that Lee knew he was facing what is essentially a life sentence, why didn't the US Army hold him in confinement?   One must ask if the US Army hadn't mismanaged Lee's case, their mistakes leading to Hokema's death. 

Since evidence seems to be reaching this conclusion, I think this could be why Lee's arrest remains shrouded in mystery.  Let me remind everyone that the US Army's history when it comes to justice is far from pretty.  In 1970, the journalist Robert Sherrill published his examination of military justice, "Military Justice is to Justice As Military Music is to Music", which outlined the sometimes horror story that is military administrated law.  This doesn't mean that justice won't prevail in this case.  It only might mean  that everything might move very slowly, frustrating all interested parties.  The US Army is BIG Government.  It has its own rules. 

In an email, Craig Sailor told me that Lee's abandoned vehicle was found in DuPont, Washington, a town about 15 north of Olympia, Washington.  This fact adds further mystery to the question as to how and why Lee ended up in Hokema's cab.  It would seem, if Lee entered Hokema's cab in DuPont, that it was a dispatched call, unless of course he had dropped off in DuPont, and Lee hailed his cab.  

DuPont to Tukwila is about 36 miles.  Redicab rates are a $3.00 drop, then $4.00 per mile along with 75 cents per minute wait time.  Minimally that would make the fare to the SouthCenter Mall at about $147.00.  What happened once they arrived at SouthCenter?   It would seem surprising that Hokema would not have already asked for upfront payment, given the amount owed.   Another question is, if Redmond, Washington was Lee's ultimate destination, why did he direct the cab to Tukwila?  I hope to see these kinds of questions answered in the upcoming weeks.  

One last important point I want to make is to remove the fallacy that driving cab is a simple, straightforward occupation.  Nothing is, or could be further from the truth, from functional reality.  What cab driving is is an immersion into active culture and society, every passenger entering your cab a living, breathing specimen of the human experience.  Whoever that person is, whether sane, insane, wonderful or monster, they will be sitting inches behind you.  This is not simple.  This is a complex equation.  And sometimes it all doesn't add up properly, instead blowing up in your face.  That is what taxi is really like.  It's not fiction.  It's not a movie.  It's palpable reality.

Hard to Believe But the City of Seattle Doesn't Care How Much You Made Last Year,

You still have to pay the business license applicable to the previous year.   For example, let's say the previous year you made $25,000 but this past year you made $100.00, the City of Seattle will still demand the fee connected to the higher amount.  Why?  Because this is just how the City of Seattle does it.  Doesn't matter whether it is either fair or logical.  I found this out by paying the smaller fee request.  I suppose this somehow makes me delinquent,  suddenly an alienated teenager clad in a black leather jacket leaning against a wall, cigarette hanging from my lips.  Is this a good/bad example of how the City of Seattle is run?  Yes, it certainly is.  

As You Cabbies out there will have noticed,

your insurance rates have gone up dramatically.  But you say, I haven't had an accident of a ticket in 20 years.  So what is this response, why are rates being raised.?  The insurers don't care and they don't have to.  No explanation necessary.  You either pay or you don't drive your car.  That's just the way it is.  Isn't it fun owning a cab? 






Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Whoa! Stop! Don't Spend $10,000 For A Seattle Taxi Medallion & Opaque Uber: Why Is It So Hard To Communicate With Uber? & It Is Past Time That The City Of Seattle And King County Create A Readable Website Explaining Step By Step How To Be A TNC (Ride-Share) Operator & After 45 Years, A NYC Cab Driver's Last Fare

 Do Not, I repeat, Do Not Spend Ten Thousand Dollars for a City of Seattle Taxi Medallion!

I found out today that the owner of multiple Seattle taxi medallions sold a medallion for $10,000.  As most know, these days, Seattle taxi medallions are essentially worthless.  I sold my City 1092 medallion for $1000.00, basically giving it away to someone who really needed it.  Why then was some willing to pay so much for the medallion, committing themselves to $500.00 monthly payments for the next 20 months?  Because the desperate soul found himself banned from both Uber and Lyft.  More on that later but it exemplifies the unholy power Uber and Lyft hold over their so-called independent operators.  They have the ability to destroy lives.  And do they care about consequences affecting a dismissed driver and their family?  No, they don't, and don't believe it when they say they do, "crocodile tears" streaming from their TNC eyes.   

The problem with anyone newly committing themselves to driving taxi in Seattle today is that the local industry is moribund, unviable, a sinkhole collapsing upon itself.  The big money making opportunities are gone expect when working events like big-name concerts and Seahawk NFL football games.  All the big money-making accounts are either dead or so diminished that it makes little sense to work them.  The easy days of averaging $30-40.00 per day are long gone, leaving today's Seattle taxi operator with what?--- unending big expenses the sad answer.  

What are taxi expenses compared to Uber and Lyft?   Taxi insurance is going to cost you $5000.00 per year compared to $1400.00 to $2000.00 annually for Uber and Lyft  That makes insurance your only real TNC upfront cost other than your monthly telephone bill.  While yes, TNC dispatch takes out about 40% out of each fare, it is nothing compared to the $195.00 Seattle Yellow (Puget Sound Dispatch) asks for each week.  From my experience, Uber is so busy, allowing you to make $300-500.00 daily translating into you not caring how much money is extracted from each fare.  Who cares?  In Seattle, the "fat and sassy" TNC driver has no need to care.   

As I have written before, the average Seattle cabbie must make $18,000 before they make a penny for themselves, taking 3-4 months to earn it.  All those hours, all that real sweat and blood expired on the taxi road.  As for the guy paying $500.00 monthly installments for this new medallion, add $6,000 to that $18,000 for the first year, adding up to $24,000.  The second year, it will be $22,000 before he has earned a dime.  Painful.  Awful.

Also not to be forgotten is the $1000. plus to paint the car yellow, that's if he has one to paint.  Otherwise, he is looking at buying a car for between $12,000-20,000. Then of course there is the yearly maintenance  like tires and monthly oil changes.  All this for the privilege of working yourself to death.  Anyone thinking this is funny is morbid.  This is nothing but death while breathing.  There is no other good way to describe it.  You are a dead man driving in your own motorized yellow coffin.  Your ignorance is your eulogy. 

What I am saying is that the exploitation of the Seattle cab driver must end, including the complicity of the drivers themselves.  Over the decades that I have been a part of this industry, company owners have  often been too ruthless in their treatment of the drivers, viewing them as so many easily replaceable parts.  This appears to be driven home once again by Puget Sound Dispatch's attitude stating that making money is our only goal, operator well-being simply not a priority.  

All of this is given a "blind eye" by a very theoretical Seattle and King County taxi regulatory leadership.  How can anyone condone the expenses associated with cab ownership?  I've stated this before that all this is immoral.  Sitting twelve hours piloting a cab through Seattle's traffic is no fun.  Try it for one shift and you will agree.   This is not a good way to earn a living.  Again, death is upon your lips, death your mascot, death your unwanted friend. 

Is There Anyone I Can Talk To?

A friend's recent ordeal of being suspended from Uber says everything bad about their communication and methodology.  The messaging told him he didn't have his required TNC for-hire permit.  The problem was, he had done everything he was supposed to, and for some unknown reason, Uber hadn't forwarded his information to King County.  He was blamed, made responsible for something not his responsibility.  He was also temporarily knocked off the Lyft platform because they hadn't received his DDC defensive driving test results, not realizing they were not automatically sent to both companies.  Not very computer savvy, he had difficulty reaching Uber's callcenter, and when he did, he was told that his van was no longer eligible, that he needed a EV to continue driving Uber.  Of course this wasn't true.  What kind of real regulatory oversight is provided by the City of Seattle and King County. None whatsoever is the real answer.  Get banned by Uber because a passenger said you winked at her?   Just the way it is, buddy, you're burnt toast.

But Joe, We Already Have that Step-By-Step Website

I wrote to my favorite King County (truly a nice guy) regulator telling him that a very detailed TNC "how to apply" website is necessary.  A major reason why my friend encountered so many bureaucratic obstacles is because he didn't know how to start, and when he did, he took some wrong turns.  I checked out their website and was not impressed, KC making assumptions the applicants knew what they were doing.  Anyone long associated with the cab industry knows that's a false postulation.  Instead, thinking that the individual knows little to nothing is a more correct stance.  

Beginning with the title, it should be some like "SO YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BECOMING AN UBER OR LYFT DRIVER?"   Ask any any Uber driver what the acronym TNC stands for, and I bet the vast majority won't know.  "Spoon feeding" the applicant the necessary information is the only way to avoid confusion.

Not only does the County need to be clear how the TNC/ride-share for-hire process works, the County needs to follow the process from beginning to end, concluding with the operator being issued their for-hire along with a car decal.  In my roughly one-year-long association with Uber, nothing is what I received.  

The more specifics the better.  Write the website in a way acknowledging that the applicant has been in the USA for abut twenty minutes.  Communicate in the simplest terms.  Then, and only then, will the applicant understand.  And even then, he or she might require assistance. 

Ending on a Softer Note

In the February 25th New York Times "Metropolitan Diary," a reader says he grabbed a cab from East Harlem to the Upper West Side, during which the cabbie said this was his last fare.  The passenger thought he meant it was his final ride of the day but "No, you don't understand.  You are not my last fare for the day.  You are my last fare forever."  Turns out the cabbie had been driving for 45 years in New York City and this indeed was his last fare.  Hopefully the passenger gave him a good tip, like say a million dollars.  That would be about right, after all those painful years.  But this is really like cab driving as it truly is. The guy could have been the best cabbie New York City had ever known but his exit causing no fanfare or celebration.  Nothing was noted, nothing was said except this chance encounter very accidentally pointed out.  Just like taxi as I know and hate it.  Good luck, sucker!




Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Greetings Again From Seattle: How The Unending Bias Against Taxi Drivers Influences Police And Media Coverage & Update On Tukwila Cabbie Murder & RT Taxi Ride Yellowknife, NWT To Seattle And Back & Chinese Cabbie's Lament & Cancun Cabbies Keep Attacking & I Am Selling My Yellow KIA

Disgusting Police Bias

I have been back in Seattle since February 6th, a Tuesday but the following day began exhibiting sign of some kind of serious influenza/viral infection.  The following Monday, soon after a clinical appointment where I was refused medication, I developed a non-stop cough along with other symptoms leaving me with a physical state I have never before experienced: I thought I was going to die.  Understanding I needed instantaneous relief, I consulted Dr. Wang, the most effective (and most expensive) acupuncturist and Chinese medicine physician I know of.  Though not licensed to practice "western" medicine in the USA, he has a medical degree from Chinese, effectively utilizing both schools of knowledge.  If possible, I wanted to avoid hospitalization, though sometimes infernal sources of even worse infections.  Thankfully, after a couple of treatments, and drinking many foul-tasting cups of herbal medicine, I appear to be on the mend, thus allowing me to even begin writing again.  Such misery I have never been acquainted with.  It was, and continued to be, scary.   I wouldn't wish this illness on anyone save a politician, especially one or two now prominent upon the national and international stage.  Given their ages, they might not survive, their departures not troubling me in the least. 

The ongoing investigation of the Tukwila/SouthCenter cabbie murder dating from January 14 has gotten me thinking about the overall treatment of taxi drivers here in the United States.  Though a suspect has been found, as of this date, no charges have been filed.  Much more on this later but one fact I soon discovered about driving taxi way back in Sept 1987 is that cabbies were considered worthless.  Exchanging my weekday role of psychiatric case manager to weekend cabbie told me everything I didn't want to know concerning societal attitudes.  Not did I suddenly have less value, worse, I was expendable.  Having no experience perviously with the police, other than being the sole staff member working at psychiatric half-way houses, I was shocked at the treatment received, getting pulled over for nothing whatsoever, and then, after stupidly defending myself, issued tickets for contrived and made-up violations.  It was a revelation never forgotten.  The police hated me and hated all my fellow cabbies.   Why was this true?  What was this bias all about?  

When punishment is your goal, someone must be punished, and that someone is usually considered diminished or of lesser value, be you a black teenager or a criminal cabbie.  Why criminal?  Because everyone knows the cab driver is willing to do anything for a dollar while breaking every traffic rule in the hunt for that dollar.  You know and I know that's true.  The police certainly do, explaining why it was a constant battle to maintain your driving license, you the "toplight evil" menacing society.  

Media bias in America is less clear.  While at times making efforts to thoroughly cover a particular taxi subject,  overall indifference is what I have seen and experienced.  Once the initial sensation of a cabbie murder is over, coverage rarely continued, the details of where, how and why losing tenor.  Cab drivers are not important cultural actors unless you are someone like the composer Philip Glass, graduating from the cab to the symphony hall.   If my newest book takes off, I assure you that much commentary will be as to why I drove taxi when "look how well he writes."  It is predicable.

Tukwila Cabbie Murder Update

It has been 37 days since Olympic RediCab driver Nicholas Hokema was found dead, his cab missing, with his body dumped upon the parking lot of Tukwila's SouthCenter Mall.   It took police authorities two weeks but they found both cab and the probable murderer in the Eastside city of Richmond, Washington.  The suspect is a US Army deserter, Army Specialist Jonathan Kang Lee, and now convicted child molester.  Lee had been charged with the rape of two underage children, ages 6 and 7; and having skipped his trial, was sentenced, in absentia, to 64 years in prison.  The mystery now is who is holding him in custody, the US Army or the Richmond Police?   As from the start of this case, there has been very little information issued or known. 

RediCab emailed to tell me that Lee drove off JBL/Fort Lewis base on January 14th.  Nothing beyond that is known.  No one is telling how he met up with Hokema.   When new information is provided, I will repeat it here. There is a gofundme account for Nick. I donated $100.00.   The account is as follows: http://gofundme/f/nick-hokema 

It is very important that we in the industry support our fallen comrades.  How many actual murderers did I have sitting behind me during my 35 plus years driving cab?   More, I am sure, than I want to think.  Cab driving is a deadly profession, Nick's death yet another sorry expression of that fact. 

Long Cab Ride

While I never got the "grand slam" of cab rides, when recently in Ajijic, Mexico, I was told of one.  He was a very lucky fellow.  A few years back, a cabbie working in the Canadian NW Territories city of Yellowknife, drove someone round-trip from Yellowknife to Seattle and back again.  The passenger got in, told the driver we are "picking up a case of liquor" and off they went.  That's a distance of 1,542 miles.  Upon arrival, they stayed a week, then back up they went, along with more booze.  I believe it.  I have had shorter versions.  Longest ride I serviced was 215 miles.  This ride was over 3000 miles.  My informant did not know how much the cabbie got paid.  I would like to know.

Lunar New Year Lament 

A Shanghai, China cabbie was featured about money making during the new "Year of the Dragon" celebrations.  Business was down, he would not be eating like be would like, and Shanghai was swamped with people coming in from the countryside working China's versions of Uber and Lyft.  Different country, old story. 

Same Story in Cancun, Mexico

Two Cancun medallion cabbies were arrested after attacking an SUV filled with American tourists, scattering their luggage on the roadway.   The tourists were unhappy.

Friday I am selling my Yellow Kia

I am now completely out of the people transportation business.  Instead give me rats, cats and dogs.  The car I used to drive taxi a bit, and now Uber, will be sold.  Time to say goodbye to all that. 









Sunday, February 4, 2024

Greetings Once Again From Arcata, California: Late But Not Never, The Blog Hog Is Back In The USA, And Of Course I Have Something To Say

This Should Have Originated From Ajijic, Mexico---3 Recent Mexican Cab Rides

The explanation is due to both Google and Yahoo's refusal to recognize the computer I had brought along.  They kept wanting to send me verification codes to my American telephone number.  A number of other insane, inane security obstacles told me I would be waiting until my return to once again communicate with the greater taxi world and community.  But before I briefly describe where I was, I will relate my 3 Mexico cab rides shared with that famous personage of these pages, "she-who-can't-be-named."  Does anyone really know how to operate a cab?  Mostly don't, from my experience.   

We flew in from Oakland, CA to Guadalajara, Mexico (population 1, 385, 629), our ultimate destination Ajijic, Mexico.  Arriving early in the morning, about 4 AM, via Volaris Airlines (I don't recommend the airlines), we took a cab for the 24 mile (38 kilometer) ride to Ajijic.  Cab ride was 550 pesos ($32.00).  The guy was a ten-year veteran, guessing correctly his years in the profession.  Hard to fool me!  He was okay but drove past our turn taking us to the center (el cento).  We had to guide him in but that shouldn't have been necessary, Ajijic American/Canadian well-known "gringo" land.  Dropping us off at the main plaza, I gave him an additional ten dollar bill.  I liked him despite everything.  C plus grade for this ride. 

Our second cab was a few hours later to our Airb&b apartment.  Having our bags, and tired from the trip,  we took what was at most 3/4 of a mile ride.  It was a rip, 70 pesos ($4.00).  The younger driver was terrible but saved our legs.  D plus cab ride. 

Third cab ride was February 1st back to the aeropuerto, this time 600 pesos, and I gave the rookie driver (2 years on the taxi road) a 300 peso tip.  We thought we were getting the experienced Arturo, a cabbie recommended by Bob and Nora, local gringos but instead we got Lalo, his employee, 22 years-old.  Not the best driver of cars, unnecessarily tailgating and not passing when he had the opportunity.  Friendly kid.  At least to he got us to the airport minus delays.  In reality, barely a cabbie.  C minus taxi grade.  Has potential if he doesn't first kill himself and his passengers. 

Arriving an hour late in Oakland, we took the BART to my car parked in North Berkeley at my old friend's Jake's house.  Thanks, Jake!  From there we drove back to the Udupi Palace vegan Indian restaurant.  We had eaten there before we took off for Ajijic.  Very good.  1901 University, Berkeley.  Telephone number 510-843-6600.  Small place.  Very Busy.  Delicious food. 

Why Ajijic? 

More detail on the trip later.  This was her second time around in Ajijic, last March having gone solo minus the "donkey" as I am called.  I am her favorite pack animal.  She loves both sunshine and pickleball, something offered in plenty in Ajijic.  Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest lake, 48 miles long and 10 miles wide, is a wonderful place to sit by and watch a profusion of birds.  Sunsets from the shoreline worth the trip. 

Olympia, Washington Cabbie Found Stabbed at Southcenter Mall Mid-January

Accessing my email, friends had sent me news items documenting this tragedy.  Driver from Redicab was found dead on the street, his cab stolen.  Nickolas Frank Hokema, age 34, had been driving a cab since 2016, enough time to know the "ropes."  His cab has since been found but not the murderer.   First area cabbie murder in a long time. 




Monday, January 1, 2024

Greetings From Arcata, CA: New Year's Eve Taxi Hodgepodge---Does Seattle Yellow Cab (Puget Sound Dispatch) Owe All the Drivers A Pile of Money? This And Other Grinning Ghosts From The Year That Was

 I Tell You Folks!

Yes, everyone, I find arrogance very annoying, and the arrogance displayed by PSD is too much to take, plainly thinking they can do anything they want minus accountability or consequence of any kind.  Their Holiday Pizza party angered me, perhaps that is what woke me up to another violation that went on year after year.  Each week, on our itemized receipts verifying we paid our weekly dispatch fees, we were charged $10.00 for advertising that never occurred.  Per driver, that comes to $520.00 per year.  

When the BYG Co-op (Seattle Yellow Cab) was going strong, they had at least 500 lease drivers and probably a lot more than that, serving a fleet of more or less 550 cabs.  Multiply $520.00 times 500 and the total is $260.000. for one full 52 week year.  Let's calculate one ten-year period and we find the total is 2,600,000 dollars.  That's right, millions of dollars are probably owed to everyone who has driven a Seattle Yellow Cab.  My very quick estimate is that we are collectively due over five million dollars, and that very well could be a conservative estimation.  

For years on end, on many levels, Seattle Yellow Cab did, and still does whatever the hell they want, knowing the City and County are either unwilling, or simply not having the legal authority to intervene. Wouldn't it be a shocker if past and present drivers request PSD pay up all those unused advertising funds?  

The current PSD owner is well known to have made untold millions in a roughly 30 year long period of operating 36 or more cabs.  I know he could afford to pay the money though it might mean selling off some of his properties, maybe even PSD itself.  Now wouldn't that be nice, a belated Christmas gift that keeps giving throughout the year?  If anyone doesn't think that these unused fees won't be an issue in 2024, you would be wrong.  This is what happens when you jam cheap pizza down the driver's throats.  That wasn't nice.  No, not at all.   Perhaps it is time for PSD to experience some financial indigestion.  

Minimum New Fare From Sea-Tac

On December 18th, 2023 (coincidently my 70th birthday), a new minimum fare policy for cabs operating out of Sea-Tac started, a now official minimum rate of $20.00 for all cab fares originating from the airport.  This new rule has some history, trying to halt an outrage that hurt drivers for too many years.  

What was happening is that much too often, after waiting one or two hours for a fare, a cabbie would get a fare to a local Sea-tac hotel, and since the Port of Seattle has a surcharge of $6.00 per each Sec-Tac originated fare, the cab ride would be a total loss to the driver.  Unfair it was, and this new rule attempts to assuage that injustice.  The new rule also allows the driver to charge the passenger an additional one dollar, reducing the surcharge to five dollars overall.   

Whether it makes the passenger happy is another question. What is obvious is that the Port of Seattle will not give up that $6.00.  It wants that money regardless of who it impacts.  Like an angry, growling dog gripping your pants leg, Sea-Tac will not let go, gritting its teeth, snarling. 

Yellow Cab 296 and His Bad Taxi Luck

My friend, the owner/operator of YC 296, has probably seen his last days as a cabbie.  A lifelong driver, he once owned seven independent cabs serving the airport.  I am not sure how many years he has been driving but it greatly surpasses my 35 plus years. On October 9th, he was hit from behind on North 145th while waiting to make a left hand turn.  The offending driver, minus license and insurance, hit my friend's 2011 Ford Crown Victoria at a speed between 40-50 mph.  All that Detroit steel saved him.  Otherwise, a very different story.  The driver was issued two citations by WSP. 

Thankfully, Washington State insurance rules have gotten him some money back in compensation.  Without it, he wouldn't have been able to pay his rent.  More money is coming but it could be nine months or more before it does.  So, like many former cabbies, he has turned to Uber.  Overall, it is a better deal for him, as I have been saying in these pages for months, the Uber overhead nothing when compared to taxi.  

This was his second bad accident in three years.  Two winters ago, a driver lost control of her car, went airborne and struck his cab that was on the opposite side of the roadway.  He was fortunate to survive that accident but his car was totaled.  Such is the fraught life of a cab driver.  

Puget Sound Dispatch lost the School Run Accounts

Until recently, transporting children to and from school was an account mainstay, something very dependable both in the mid-morning and in the late afternoons.  The vast majority of the trips were very good, ranging from $20-100.00 and and sometimes more.  Often, lucky drivers would sign up for an entire school season of round-trips, guaranteeing good money from only two fares.  Why did they disappear?   

I was told that the local school districts were now requiring one million dollars in insurance coverage to transport students, making it unaffordable.  Why the school districts made this decision is unknown to me.  I don't remember hearing of any serious accidents involving school runs.  What was their motive then?  

Perhaps I will never know but I wonder about PSD's advocacy for the owner/operators and how much effort they made to save these school accounts.  Also, another account negative is a very diminished HopeLink relationship, with fewer fares and lower rates.  

This is the reason why I keep saying that more transparency concerning PSD is highly necessary.  PSD's relationship with the driver's is opaque.  No one knows what they are doing, neither financially or questions regarding their operational efficiency.   A powerless workforce is unfortunately pliable, unwittingly providing a permission that must be taken away.  I tell the drivers this.  Do they listen, do they understand?  I am doubtful, is all I can say.

Is Farwest Planning Once Again on being A Major Taxi Player in Seattle and King County?

I have heard that this is true, that Farwest Taxi is planning on expanding its dispatch (currently terrible); and growing its fleet with all those flat-rate vehicles slated to become metered taxis.  One very big potential positive to this is that it could provide a viable option to Yellow Cab, providing owner/operators new negotiating power.  If Farwest offers the drivers some real incentive to change colors, offering lower dispatch fees and help with transition costs, it could be sayonara for Puget Sound Dispatch.  I am purposely writing this as a warning to Yellow, encouraging them to wake up before it is too late.  I am not vindictive.  I'd rather that Yellow survive despite my obvious criticism. 

Robo-Trucking Coming to your Interstate? 

In Texas, there have been two successful years of testing using safety drivers.   They don't exceed posted speed limits.  It could change the trucking industry forever.  Will it, is the obvious question mark.  Or after some terrible accident, will it go down in flames? 

More on that 10 Percent Rule

To elaborate a trifle more upon the City and County's attempt to protect cabbies from greedy associations, nothing appears to be written about limiting or eliminating set dispatch fees; instead it seems to provide permission for associations to charge an additional 10% of every dispatched fare while simultaneously charging set fees.  Huh?  Currently, Puget Sound Dispatch is charging owner/operators $195.00 per week.   Maybe somewhere in that huge 105 page ordinance it eliminates that ability but I doubt it.  

I've been told that this 10 percent provision was inserted on the behest of those troublesome do-gooders, Teamsters 117, a group of well-meaning but non-taxi experienced folks.  And this could be the entire issue with the new ordinance: it was created by people who have never driven a taxicab.  I have said more than once in these pages over the past 12 years that the biggest PROBLEM plaguing both the local and national taxi industry is that it is regulated and directed by non-industry personnel. 

If I was the Seattle City Council's President, or if I led FAS (they oversee Seattle taxi licensing), this ordinance would be a very different looking document, for very obvious reasons.  I know taxi reality inside and out.  There is nothing I don't know about how it runs and how everyone involves functions.  Not ONE person currently regulating or writing rules can say this.  Not a solitary one.  Until this changes, the industry will hop along on one leg.  

Another example of this is the woman who leads the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Bhairavi Desai, again someone who has never driven a cab.  No member of her family has ever driven a cab.  What is her background?  She received a BA from Rutgers University in Women's Studies and, in the past, worked with women's rights groups.  No previous association with the taxi industry but somehow she is leading 15,000 NYC cabbies.  A do-gooder, yes, no argument there.  But someone like me, who knows the industry firsthand, no, not at all.  Theorists are the last anything the taxi industry needs. 

People, I tell you, this is a mistake, putting the taxi industry in the hands of amateurs.  Would you hire me to run a hospital?  No.  To run United Airlines?  No.  To head General Motors?  No.  But why not?  I've worked in hospitals, flown around the world in jets, and in my lifetime, the majority of my cars have been Chevrolets?   Doesn't that qualify me?  No, it doesn't, as I obviously do not have the in-depth experience and skills required.  Same with the people holding influence over the USA taxi industry.  They do not hold the required knowledge.  It is that basic.