Taxi drivers ask mayor for reprieve from airport ban

By Kevin Hume : sfexaminer – excerpt

Taxicabs lined up and honk as drivers and advocates rally outside City Hall on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 to protest the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s upcoming ban on legacy medallion taxicabs from picking up at San Francisco Airport that begins on February. 1

Taxi drivers rallied outside City Hall on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 before dropping off a letter for Mayor London Breed, asking to speak with her about a decision by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to ban taxi drivers with legacy medallions from picking up people at San Francisco International Airport. Taxi advocates estimate the decision, which is to be implemented Feb. 1, will put 60 percent of The City’s taxi drivers out of work… (more)

Mayor Breed was out of town, but Supervisors Fewer, Haney, and Safai spoke at the rally on the San Francisco City Hall steps.

 

Airports Take A Hit As Uber And Lyft Rise In Popularity

By Helen Storms : inquisitr – excerpt

Many are taking advantage of services like Uber and Lyft to avoid the stress of airports.

Uber, Lyft, and other similar transportation services are transforming the way people are traveling this holiday season. If you’ve had to take a flight recently, your first thought upon touching down was likely how to get out of the airport as quickly as possible. In the past, taking a cab was most people’s best option. That is, if they didn’t want to opt for public transportation. Now, Uber and Lyft is becoming the most popular way to escape the chaos of major airports. This is likely due to the convenience that these types of services offer. No more standing out in unpleasant weather trying to hail a cab. With this new technology, you can have a driver waiting to pick you up the minute you land. However, according to Wired, this new trend is causing a multitude of issues for airports… (more)

Looks like the Uber Lyfts are have taken on more than just the taxis. They are competing the old fashioned way, by cornering the market and the CPUC is helping them complete against the government entities by removing them from government regulation. Removal of government regulations has a familiar ring to it.

City could subsidize wheelchair-accessible taxis

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The City is proposing to subsidize the purchase and upkeep of taxi cabs equipped with wheelchair ramps, in a bid to restore service for the disability community across San Francisco.

The problem is stark, taxi industry insiders say.

The advance of ride-hail giants Uber and Lyft led to sharp declines in the taxi industry — that part of the story, many know. But a lesser-known fallout of the rise of tech-enabled rides is the decline of drivers behind the wheel of specially-equipped taxis for those who use wheelchairs.

As taxi drivers flee an ailing industry, so too have drivers for ramp-equipped taxis, leaving wheelchair-users largely unable to hail a cab. Uber and Lyft do not run ramp-equipped cars in large number, and have been sued by disability nonprofits for discrimination.

The decline of ramp taxi service is a chicken and the egg problem, said John Lazar, former owner of Luxor Cab, which specializes in disability-community service…

Hansu Kim, co-owner of Flywheel Taxi, said boosting ramp taxi service is not just a moral imperative, but also makes good business sense.

“It’s not as lucrative, but the taxi industry, by embracing paratransit services, is a focus other industries aren’t doing,” Kim said, referring to Uber and Lyft. And those new SFMTA incentives will do the trick. Kim said. “It gives me more incentive to put out these more expensive vehicles.”… (more)

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)

Local Readers blast their horns about Uber and Lyft

By David Talbot : sfchronicle – excerpt

Tuesday’s column about the flood of Uber and Lyft cars on the streets of San Francisco triggered a tsunami of reader email and social-media outbursts. So I’m turning over today’s platform to my impassioned readers. The public is clearly reaching its tipping point on the out-of-control ride-hailing industry. The last time something like this happened, Airbnb cut a sensible deal with the city. So who knows? The boys-will-be-boys bro-ocracy at Uber might also finally accept some reasonable regulations…

My column also provoked howls from those who thought I was unfair to the ride-hailing corporations. “The reason people take Lyft and Uber is because Muni and taxis suck,” stated Jamey Frank. “Neither are reliable nor convenient, especially for my disabled parents. We take (the TNC) cars rather than climbing down a filthy (Muni) staircase due to a broken escalator and elevator, to a filthy and dark platform and wait a random amount of time for a train. … The MTA’s policy is not solution-based. Instead, they prefer to punish people out of their cars through red lanes, road diets and parking confiscation, creating huge amounts of artificial traffic congestion. But no amount of driver punishment overrides the fact that San Francisco has one of the least reliable, least pleasant transportation systems in the world.”

Speaking of solutions, Philip Macafee proposes a sensible new approach on his website, the Rideshare Justice Project (www.ridesharejustice.org). “The web, mobile devices and GPS location technology offer a great advance in secure, trustworthy and fair transportation,” he writes. “But only if implemented properly. States and municipalities need to step up to the plate by setting standards that blend the benefits of game changing new technology with time proven practices of reinforcing good behavior on the part of workers. (They also need to ensure) fair wages and safety for drivers. And they need to do it before the problem gets worse.”

I like what he’s driving at…(more)

Comments go to dtalbot@sfchronicle.com

SF demands data from Uber, Lyft on city trips, driver bonuses

By Carolyn Said : sfgate – excerpt

It’s a San Francisco truism: Every other car on the streets these days seems to sport a logo for Uber or Lyft — and many double-park or block traffic as passengers climb in or out.

Now the city wants Uber and Lyft to share details on how many ride-hailing cars are roving the streets and when, so it can ensure that they comply with local laws; assess their impact on traffic congestion, safety, pollution and parking; and ascertain whether they are accessible for disabled and low-income riders.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera on Monday subpoenaed Uber and Lyft to disgorge records on four years of driving practices, disability access and service in San Francisco. The companies have steadfastly declined to share data other than that they have about 45,000 drivers in the Bay Area… (more)

The “Sharing Economy” has lost favor in San Francisco as citizens and politicians now realize the circle of benefactors is very limited.

Tweaks sought to Mission Street transit lanes

By Sara Gaiser : sfbay – excerpt

fter complaints from Mission District merchants and drivers, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials will hold a public meeting and seek public feedback on the impact of red transit-only lanes added to Mission Street earlier this year.

The public outreach, announced in conjunction with Supervisor David Campos, will include a community hearing to be held next week, merchant walks in the area and a survey of residents and visitors on Mission Street, SFMTA officials said.

Red transit-only lanes and other changes were installed on Mission Street between 14th and 30th streets earlier this year in an effort to speed up bus travel times through the busy transit corridor and increase pedestrian safety…

The project has successfully reduced travel times and increased reliability for buses, and appears to have reduced collisions from three or four per week to only one since late March. The agency has received positive feedback from Muni riders and neighborhood residents on the changes, SFMTA officials said.

However, drivers have complained that it is now difficult to access Mission Street, and some merchants have reported a decrease in sales because of reduced vehicle traffic.

Campos said in a statement that fulfilling The City’s Transit First policy and Vision Zero goal, which aims to eliminate pedestrian deaths in San Francisco by 2020, requires tradeoffs, but that the tradeoffs “must be considered thoughtfully”:

“While I wholeheartedly support the goal of improving Muni reliability and speed, I want to make sure that the project works for everyone and take into the account the unique aspects of the Mission.”…

The public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts at 2868 Mission St… (more)

 

Uber Teams Up With Real Estate Developer To Replace Car Ownership

By Brian Solomon : forbes – excerpt

About 90% of U.S. households own a car–but Uber wants to change that.

On Wednesday, Uber announced what it hopes will be the start of many local real estate partnerships designed to encourage residents to ditch their cars for ride-sharing and public transportation. This first partnership brings Parkmerced, a real estate development in San Francisco with over 3,000 rental apartments, into the fold.

The details: new residents will receive a $100 monthly transportation subsidy from Parkmerced to use on Uber and public transit ($30 must be used on Uber, the rest can be put on a Clipper Card). In return, Uber will cap the fares of any UberPool shared ride between Parkmerced and the nearby BART and MUNI stations to a maximum of $5…

“Five years ago we didn’t know who Uber was and now they rule the world,” said Rob Rosania, CEO of Maximus Real Estate, the developer of Parkmerced. “They were the first ones to raise their hands and the most aggressive when coming up with a solution that worked for a long term partnership toward multi-modal transportation.”… (more)

Sweeping new regulations proposed for Uber, Lyft may level playing field for taxis

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Uber and Lyft may soon face tighter-than-ever inspections on how it calculates fares and its insurance and criminal records, in addition to facing more frequent vehicle inspections under newly proposed regulations.

A California Public Utilities Commission administrative law judge proposed the sweeping new rules in a ruling issued Monday afternoon.

If approved by the California Public Utilities Commission at its regular meeting Feb. 25, some of the new rules may in some ways level the playing field for taxis, experts told the Examiner.

The taxi industry frequently complains it is difficult to complete against “rideshares” because the two industries are regulated by different entities, and play by a different set of rules.

Rideshares are typically called Transportation Network Companies in California.

Among Commissioner Liane M. Randolph and CPUC Administrative Law Judge Robert R. Mason’s 15 proposed new “Phase II” regulations for Uber, Lyft and other TNCs are some tighter regulations, which bring TNCs more in line with the taxi industry. Those include increasing the frequency of vehicle inspections, tighter background checks for TNCs which mainly drive unaccompanied minors (like Shuddle), annual reports on “fare-splitting” (like UberPool and Lyft Line services), and increased records transparency.

Uber and Lyft may soon need to open their books to the CPUC on proof of required liability insurance, criminal background check information, driver’s licenses and driving records, vehicle inspection records, as well as driver suspensions, deactivations, and subsequent reactivations.

TNCs also may now need to display “trade dress” (Like Lyft’s iconic mustache) in the back and front of the vehicle, so they are more visible.

Susan Shaheen is co-director of UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center, and is a leading expert on Uber and Lyft. She told the Examiner that some of these regulations make TNCs more heavily regulated, like taxis.

As far as increasing transparency around calculating fares, Shaheen said, “That I’d put in the bucket of leveling the playing field in regulations.”

Fares are a “heavily regulated” area of the taxi industry, she said…(more)

Taxis launch Uber-like dashboard app ‘TaxiOS’

By  : sfexaminer – excerpt

Soon taxi drivers will throw out old-style taxi meters, and usher in new tools of the trade — if tech company Flywheel has anything to say about it.

Taxi technology company Flywheel announced it recently secured regulatory approval for its newest innovation: smartphone taxi meters.

“This is big for us,” said Percy Rajani, chief technology officer at Flywheel. “We can start really cranking up. … Now you’ve got the device in there so it’ll be a platform for all the other services.”

Flywheel’s software, TaxiOS, will run on dashboard-mounted smartphones. Rajani said with TaxiOS, Flywheel cabbies may soon be able to offer many of the services competitors like Uber and Lyft do, like dynamic pricing during slow-periods, carpool services, price splitting with other passengers and delivery services.

The announcement from Flywheel specifically details approval from California’s Division of Measurement Standards, which had to evaluate the app’s ability to charge fares based on GPS readings, which the San Francisco Examiner reported previously in our “sneak peek” of TaxiOS in October.

Though Flywheel already exists as an app for passengers, Flywheel’s new app and accompanying credit card reader can replace taxi dispatcher radios, mechanical meters, credit card readers and other traditional taxi functions — all in an Android-based smartphone… (more)

Taxis may have been down, but they are not out, and anyone can buy an app to compete in the “sharing” economy if they want to play that game.

Report: More than 750 jobs could be eliminated if Uber expands in central New York

auburnpub – excerpt

Hundreds of jobs will be cut if Uber expands to central New York and the Syracuse area, according to a new report released Monday by a group representing the taxi industry.

The report unveiled by the Committee for Taxi Safety says Uber’s expansion would lead to the elimination of 751 limousine and taxi industry jobs in central New York. The cuts would affect non-driver positions, such as dispatchers and mechanics.

Uber, a ride-sharing service which already operates in New York City, is looking to expand to Long Island and cities in upstate. The company says expanding to areas outside of New York City would create 13,000 jobs.

But the Committee for Taxi Safety claims many of those jobs would be part-time positions.

“This report makes it clear that Uber’s expansion outside of New York City will be a job killer for central New York,” Committee for Taxi Safety President David Beier said in a statement. “Before lawmakers create a statewide license for Uber, they should consider the destructive impact of losing these full-time jobs.”

Uber released an economic impact report in October that showed the company’s drivers would earn an estimated $80 million in net fares during the first year of operations if expansion to Long Island and upstate New York is permitted… (more)

There is something fishy about these numbers. How can you shift 750 taxi jobs into 13,000 Uber jobs?

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