SF eliminates renewal fees for taxi medallion holders

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay -excerpt


Taxis in North Beach photo by Zrants

Transferable taxi medallion holders will no longer have to pay an annual renewal fee starting July 1 as a way to help medallion holders during the current hard economic times of the taxi industry.

Congratulations to all the taxi drivers who have put in a lot of energy to get his done. A well-deserved break.

Advertisements

CPUC delays vote on ride-hail regulations until next month

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

State regulators announced late Wednesday they will delay a controversial vote on sweeping new regulations for ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft.

The California Public Utilities Commission was poised to approve a major overhaul of its regulations for ride-hail companies statewide that would impact thousands of such vehicles on San Francisco’s streets. The vote, scheduled for Thursday morning, was delayed to April 7 amid disagreements over the regulations, including whether such companies can use rental cars to offer rides.

Such contentious issues include whether Lyft drivers can lease vehicles purely for ride-hail use, if Uber drivers should be fingerprinted for criminal checks, and whether unaccompanied children can legally travel in ride-hails.

New high-stakes financial deals, like a partnership for Lyft drivers to lease vehicles from General Motors, Inc. that was announced this week, added fuel to missives between the legal teams of the multibillion ride-hail dollar companies, their critics and the CPUC.

Now Uber, Lyft and others will have more time to hash out the legal ramifications.

The CPUC still plans to discuss the Phase II regulations Thursday but will not vote on them… (more)

 

Germany Bans Uber’s Unlicensed Taxi Services

By Eric Auchard and Christoph Steitz : Reuters – excerpt FRANKFURT, March 18 (Reuters) – A German court on Wednesday banned Uber from running services using unlicensed cab drivers and set stiff fines for any violations of local transport laws by the pioneering online taxi firm. Uber, worth an estimated $40 billion making it the world’s most valuable venture-backed start-up, has set out to revolutionize local transport services worldwide, from taxis to carpools to fast-food delivery. Born out of the frustration of two Silicon Valley entreprenuers trying to catch a cab in Paris, Uber’s popular mobile phone taxi-hailing services have mushroomed since being launched in 2010 and are offered in nearly 270 cities worldwide. But Uber also has become a magnet for criticism of its business style of moving first and asking permission later. It has faced complaints around the world over how it pays drivers, charges passengers and ensures their safety. The latest case, brought in the Frankfurt regional court by German taxi operator group Taxi Deutschland against UberPOP, is one of more than a dozen lawsuits filed in countries across Europe in recent months against the San Francisco-based company… (more)

RELATED:
Lawyer Says Uber Drivers Are Basically Strippers

Phil Matier: San Francisco’s DeSoto Cab Company Ditches Longtime Name For Flywheel App

By Phil Matier : cbslocal – excerpt (audio track)

The oldest cab company in San Francisco is rebranding itself to keep up with its high-tech competition. After more than eight decades, DeSoto is hopping on board with Flywheel. Phil Matier reports. (2/18/15)… (more)

New paint job and billboard image, but they are keeping the standard cab prices instead of on-demand sliding scale.

DeSoto Cab Company Now Flywheel

wraltechwire – excerpt

A San Francisco taxi company is ditching its 82-year-old brand and renaming itself after a smartphone app in the latest sign of how mobile technology is changing the way people get a ride.

The transformation dumps DeSoto Cab’s Depression-era identity in favor of Flywheel, an app that helps traditional taxis compete against increasingly popular ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.

“We think we are pioneering the way taxi cabs need to be in the future,” DeSotoPresident Hansu Kim said in a Wednesday interview. “There is a perception that the taxi industry is backward so we need to recast ourselves as being technologically innovative.”

The newly minted Flywheel taxis will be owned and operated independently from the Flywheel app, which is made by a 6-year-old startup in Redwood City, California, a suburb located about 25 miles south of San Francisco… (more)

RELATED:
SF cab company goes mobile in hopes of better competing with ride-hail apps
The move also represents the first fleet for any taxi-hailing app in the world, DeSoto President Hansu Kim told The San Francisco Examiner… (more)

SF taxi decline debunked by cab companies

sfexaminer – excerpt

In September, San Francisco’s new taxi head calculated that there had been a 65 percent decline in cab traffic based on ridership in March 2012 compared to July 2014, an alarmingly steep figure that drew skepticism from the industry.

Cab companies are admittedly suffering — owed in large part to app-based ride services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar — but it turns out that staff at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency generated that figure using only a small sample of the statistics those companies are required to submit and also compared two very different data sets…

Management with The City’s largest taxi companies, Yellow Cab Cooperative and Luxor Cab, pointed out that the SFMTA report framing the highest and lowest trip numbers around different months — in this case, 1,424 in March 2012 and 504 in July — could be misleading because ridership changes from season to season…

Regardless of the numbers used, both the SFMTA and taxi companies realize there has been a ridership decline in the past couple years and they agree it’s due to the likes of Uber, Lyft and Sidecar — dubbed transportation network companies by the California Public Utilities Commission, the state regulator… (more)

SF Green Cab Business On the Edge of Collapse

By : MissionLocal – excerpt

Mission-based Green Cab’s 16 cabs are currently idle because they cannot find an SFMTA-approved insurance company willing to write them a policy and if they don’t find one in the next couple of weeks, the seven-year-old company could cease to exist.

“The more time passes the more difficult it is going to be,” said Mark Gruberg, one of the founders of worker-owned company. “To me it’s a bureaucratic Snafu. The situation is dire.”

Green cab’s insurance provider declined to renew its policy because the company has had two bad accidents in the past three years. Moreover, even if they do find an insurer, the SFMTA’s requirement that cab combines have a high rating may still doom its future.

Other smaller taxi companies could face the same problem in coming months as its policies are also set to expire, Gruberg said… (more)

SF exploring ways to regulate ride services like Uber, Lyft

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

As many as 4,000 rideshare vehicles are on San Francisco streets during peak times, according to Supervisor Eric Mar.

San Francisco city officials are exploring whether they have legal authority to regulate transportation services such as Uber or Lyft as the taxicab industry continues to complain about impacts to revenue, safety and disability services.

Supervisor John Avalos said Thursday that he is working with the City Attorney’s Office to explore a legal case for imposing certain local regulations.

“We’ve gotten to almost a crisis mode,” Avalos said. “We cannot let [the taxicab] industry fail.”

The so-called transportation network companies emerged out of a movement known as the sharing or peer economy, even though nothing is technically shared since the services cost money. Their growing popularity has created controversy, including with the traditional taxicab industry, which is held to stricter regulatory controls… (more)

Uber’s Motion to Dismiss SF Taxi Drivers Suit Defeated

Posted by The Brandi Law Firm Blog – excerpt

On November 20, 2013, Judge Ernest Goldsmith of the San Francisco Superior Court rejected Uber Technologies attempts to throw out a suit brought by San Francisco taxi drivers seeking compensation for unfair completion from Uber.  The taxi drivers all drive vehicles that comply with the legal requirements of the CA PUC and SFMTA including one million in insurance per vehicle, police background checks for drivers, and vehicle inspection safety checks.  The drivers contend that Uber competes unfairly in that it has not complied with the regulations for carrying passengers for hire.

In his Order, Judge Goldsmith wrote:
“The Court declines to invoke the doctrine of judicial abstention as to the first cause of action for unfair business practices, fourth cause of action for accounting, and fifth cause of action for declaratory relief.  The instant case is distinguished from Alvarado v. Selma Convalescent Hospital (2007) 153 Cai.App.4th 1292, where the court found judicial abstention appropriate where it was called upon to oversee nursing hour requirements and regulate complex health care matters on a class wide basis involving several classes of health care providers.  The gravamen of this instant case is statutory interpretation with no regulatory or administrative implications… (more)

SFMTA approves restrictions on taxi medallions

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

Vocal city cab drivers clapped, cheered and gave the rare “thank you” to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board members Tuesday after they unanimously approved an amendment prohibiting any party other than a medallion holder or taxi company to operate a medallion, and postponed gate-fee increases for six months.
The item on medallions — permits that allow a cab to operate — had been an issue for several decades but has become a larger problem in the past 10 years as medallion leasing rapidly spread as a new business model. It created an industry of medallion brokers who illegally carried out color scheme functions without permits or oversight and took in profits, said Chris Hayashi, deputy director of SFMTA’s Taxis and Accessible Services Division… (more)

RELATED:
Color Wars: Curbing the Underground Taxi Market