SF to ban most of taxi fleet from SFO to help struggling cabbies

by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexminer – excerpt

The City walked back a controversial proposal to shrink the local taxi industry Tuesday night, but did approve restrictions on which taxis can pick up passengers at San Francisco International Airport.

The change was crafted with the intention of shuffling some taxi medallions back into San Francisco, instead of allowing large numbers to wait at SFO for one plum ride.
There are about 1,450 medallions in service today, according to the SFMTA, used across 4,800 active taxi drivers.

Among calls of “shame!” and “you should all go to hell!” as well as a stream of four-letter words, taxi drivers blasted the proposal for San Francisco to phase out about 260 decades-old taxi permits, called medallions, to help divert business to more struggling taxi drivers with more recent, more expensive medallions.

“They’ve killed the taxi industry,” said Yellow Cab driver Marcel Fonseca just after the vote. He wasn’t alone in his critique.

Five members of the Board of Supervisors also penned an eleventh-hour letter objecting to the reforms, arguing for a more incremental approach…

The San Francisco Federal Credit Union also opposed the taxi reforms. The credit union is suing the SFMTA to the tune of $28 million for allegedly allowing taxi medallions to become worthless, even as the credit union offered loans to taxi drivers. A letter in opposition to the reforms sent by Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Sandra Fewer, Rafael Mandelman, Norman Yee and Hillary Ronen called for the SFMTA to oppose limiting taxi pickups at SFO, and phasing out older taxi medallions.

“The City walked back a controversial proposal to shrink the local taxi industry Tuesday night, but did approve restrictions on which taxis can pick up passengers at San Francisco International Airport.”

I think you mean the SFMTA walked by a controversial proposal? They do not yet represent the city.

 

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Peskin expands SF rideshare tax to include self-driving vehicle companies, e-commerce websites

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

A gross receipts tax on so-called “rideshares” in San Francisco for this November’s ballot — including Uber and Lyft — has been expanded to also tax companies making self-driving cars and some e-commerce websites.

E-commerce sites would be charged based on how much business they conduct in San Francisco, instead of on their physical presence in The City, according to the newly updated language of the law. Those amendments were introduced by Supervisor Aaron Peskin late last week and last month, and will go before the next regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance sub-committee for consideration, Thursday.

Should four or more supervisors ultimately approve Peskin’s proposal before a deadline of August 3, the measure will go before voters this November… (more)

The Chamber is over thinking things. The goal for taxing alternative transit companies is not the same as taxing cannabis and the money will not be used the same way. The voters are more likely to approve a tax on one industry than a lot of them and voting on one at a time is less confusing. This is partly about leveling the playing field for competitors. They should also remove the rate-setting regulations for the cab companies. If this tax law passed and they removed SFMTA regulations on cab rates, they would almost remove the competitive edge for the taxi industry.

While they are at it the Supervisors should do more than just tax the ride-hails. They should investigate the contracts SFMTA has with these entities, particularly the Motivate contract that the SFMTA intends to extend to Lyft.

The supervisors should stop this and all other contracts that the SFMTA is signing with the ride-hails and other private corporations that is privatizing public property.

If you agree, please let the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors know. They need to convince the SFMTA to stop this practice. If the SFMTA fails to stop, they need to put the Charter Amendment on the ballot with strong teeth that limits the contractual authorities of the SFMTA.

If only task the SFMTA had was to run the Muni, they might do a better job of that.

Report recommends SF slash available taxis to save industry

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

NBTaxis

Taxis in North Beach by zrants

San Francisco may slash the number of available taxi medallions — which dictates the number of cabs — by one-third, in a bid to “reinvigorate” the industry.

That’s one of a number of major recommendations released Wednesday from a respected taxi-industry consultant commissioned by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates taxis but not ride-hails like Uber and Lyft.

It’s those tech titans that have the taxi industry and SFMTA concerned, as the old guard of drivers-for-hire lose significant ground in nearly every respect: There are twelve times more ride-hail trips across The City than taxi trips, according to city data, including lucrative rides to and from the San Francisco International Airport. To revitalize the industry in 2017 the SFMTA commissioned taxi industry expert Bruce Schaller, principal of Schaller Consulting, to analyze trends in San Francisco — and recommend a way out.

“How does the MTA as a regulator help the taxi industry innovate and step up?” Kate Toran, head of taxi services at SFMTA, told reporters in a press briefing Wednesday. That, she said, is the crux of this report… (more)

Luxor Cab sold to competitor, will merge into consolidated Yellow Cab company

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexminer – excerpt

Another major taxi company has been sold in The City, and will soon become part of a taxi consolidation that hopes to boost the industry citywide.

Formed in 1928, Luxor Cab Co. was officially enshrined in San Francisco’s historical lexicon as a legacy business in 2016. Now, one of its competitors, Citywide Taxi, is in the process of purchasing the assets of the historic company in a bid to reclaim some of the business lost to tech rivals Uber and Lyft, leadership at both companies confirmed to the San Francisco Examiner…

The merger would solidify Yellow Cab’s position as the largest taxi company in San Francisco. The next largest competitor, Flywheel Taxi, has a fleet of 239 cabs, according to the SFMTA.

(more)

The history of taxis in San Francisco should make for interesting reading someday. We need to see a complete review and history of the disastrous medallion program, including, who suggested it, who promoted to it, and who approved it.

San Francisco’s largest taxi company up for sale

By Ryan Levi : KQED – excerpt

The blows keep coming for San Francisco’s struggling taxi industry. The city’s largest taxi company, the bankrupt Yellow Cab Cooperative, is up for sale.

A series of large personal injury lawsuits against the company combined with the growing popularity of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft pushed Yellow Cab into financial insolvency.

Taxi operator CityWide has already submitted a bid to buy Yellow Cab and its 500 or so cabs. Flywheel, formerly DeSoto Cab, is expected to follow suit.

So what does this mean for the state of taxis in San Francisco? Is this a sign of darker days ahead? Or is it just part of the new ride-share reality?

Mark Gruberg drives for Green Cab and is a board member of the San Francisco Taxi Worker Alliance. Count him among those who see the Yellow Cab sale as particularly bad news.

“I think it’s a very dire warning to everybody else,” he said. “The loss of Yellow does not bode well for the rest of the industry.”

He’s worried about whether the rest of the city’s cabbies will be able to absorb the hundreds of taxi medallions that Yellow Cab is currently operating… (more)

SF taxi driver supply continues to decline as Muni plans another ad campaign

sfexaminer -excerpt

A year after The City started running “Know What You’re Getting Into” ads on Muni buses listing the advantages of riding traditional taxis over ride service upstarts, the cab industry continues to suffer the greatest shortage of drivers on the streets in at least a half-dozen years.

San Francisco’s taxi industry has lost “a tremendous amount” of business to transportation network companies — Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and similar mobile-app-based services — and the number of cabdrivers has continued to decline, according to Chris Hayashi, who said she has never seen the driver numbers so low in the six years she has managed taxis for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The ad campaign contained the familiar “taxi” sign atop cabs and included a checklist of attributes that differentiate taxis from the newfangled ride services, such as drivers with extensive training, proper insurance and a formal dispute-resolution process… (more)

Why doesn’t the SFMTA just give the Taxi business back to the Taxi companies that ran it for decades with less problems than they have now? Clearly this is not a top priority item and the Taxis might figure it out on their own.

I tried to catch a cab on 2nd Street in front of the ballpark and could not figure out which ones were available. there is no system that I could see and I have no idea where the cab stands are. Neither do most of the tourists.

 

 

San Francisco Taxi Drivers Need Your Support!

worleygig.com – excerpt

Indie Cab Drivers Need Show Of Numbers
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has usurped rights to medallions (i.e. cab permits issued by the City). MTA has announced the cancellation of the medallion waiting list system effectively shutting out cab drivers who in San Francisco are forced to operate as independent businesses, but who are subject to restrictions and regulations unheard of in other industries including double taxation
Under Prop K taxi medallions were non-transferable. They were issued exclusively to cab drivers who put their names on a waiting list. For cabbies medallion ownership brings significant advantages including choice of company to work for, shift scheduling and increased income (non-medallion cab driver income in San Francisco is approximately $20,000 a year including tips). Prop K allowed drivers who could never have afforded the purchase of a medallion to obtain one and to thereby have their own stake in the taxi industry. For the public this type of medallion system means a more experienced workforce, driving safer vehicles
Currently about 1,400 drivers are on the medallion waiting list. Drivers like San Francisco native Iza Pardiñas, one of very few women cabbies in the City, have waited 16 years or more for a medallion (she is #246 on the list). Like Pardiñas, most drivers have little or no savings and cannot afford to buy medallions which now cost $300,000 per an MTA ruling in August (and will soon be sold for $400,000 or more)… (more)

Cab driver advocate Mark Gruberg and SF cab driver Iza Pardiñas are available for interviews, please contact Fly PR for details:       T. 323-667-1344      E. flypr@flypr.net

 

The unregulated cabs

sfbg.com – excerpt

Community taxi apps seem like a good idea — but they’re going to put people out of work… Yeah, the shared economy. Yeah, high tech. Yeah, there’s an app for that. Yeah, the San Francisco cab industry is screwed up and you can never get a cab when you need one.
But that’s not an excuse for the city to stand by and allow a whole cottage industry of unregulated, unlicensed cabs hit the streets, using a business model that everyone knows is fake and undermining decades of painstakingly crafted rules that govern this critical part of the city’s transportation infrastructure.
Over the past year, at least five new companies have opened that offer what the taxi industry offers — rides around the city for money. They do it in a cool new way — you send a message from your phone requesting a ride, you follow where the driver is with a GPS app, and when you get to the destination, you make a “voluntary” payment through a Pal-Pal-style system… (more)

SFMTA approves tweaked plan for taxi medallion program

By Will Reisman : SFExaminer – excerpt

Despite a din of protests from cabdrivers, a new plan for how The City administers taxi operating permits was approved Tuesday.
For decades, drivers have been able to bide their time on a lengthy waiting list to obtain a taxi medallion, a permit that can be leased out to other cabbies. As part of a pilot project that’s been running for the past two years, drivers with $250,000 have been able to jump to the top of the list to purchase a medallion…
“I’m incredibly disappointed,” said Tara Housman, one of seven members of an industry advisory council who resigned in protest of the plan. “This is a kick in the teeth to every driver on the waiting list.”
Originally, the SFMTA wanted to collect a 50 percent fee for all medallions purchased and a 30 percent fee for all transfers, but those numbers were amended down to 33 percent and 20 percent, respectively. The SFMTA said the program will give aging drivers a meaningful exit strategy — the minimum age for selling a medallion was reduced from 65 to 60 — and provide public funds for transportation initiatives, including improvements to the taxi industry…
(more)

Related:
MTA Board of Directors approves new taxi medallion process
SFMTA Approves Controversial Taxi Medallion Plan

Taxi insurance lapse ensures confusion

By: Will Reisman : SFExaminer – excerpt

About one-third of The City’s cabs were either idled or operated illegally Wednesday after more than 500 were abruptly left without sufficient insurance.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency requires that every taxi carry a $1 million liability coverage plan to operate.

On Tuesday, Dmitry Erenkov, the insurance broker for about 525 taxis — many serving smaller companies — revealed that he could not find an insurer to cover that plan, which lapsed at midnight. Calls to Erenkov’s office were not returned.

Made aware of the impending expiration, the SFMTA sent a bulletin to taxi drivers Tuesday afternoon ordering them not to operate unless they carried the $1 million insurance policy. Failure to comply would result in
suspensions or fines…

Rose said his agency’s cab enforcement unit will patrol The City in search of cabs without valid insurance…

“We were completely blindsided by this,”  Gruberg said. “The whole thing is a huge mess. Pulling 500 cabs off the street will certainly not help the public.”

Bob Planthold, an activist for disability rights in San Francisco, said many paratransit passengers will be left out in the cold by the policy lapse, which could have been avoided by better coordination between the SFMTA and the taxi industry…

(more)