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?