The cost of fake cabs

Start-ups could put the city $300 million in the hole

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Mayor Ed Lee just loves the new ride-shares.
ILLUSTRATION BY MARTIN KAZINSKI

tredmond@sfbg.com

Hansu Kim has been involved in the San Francisco taxi industry for more than a decade. He helped design the current system of buying and selling cab permits, or medallions. In 2011, he led a group that bought DeSoto Cab, and now he runs what many say is the best-managed livery company in the city. Taxis are his career — and he's about ready to pull the plug.

"You can quote me on this, because I'm very serious," Kim told us. "If the city can't solve this problem, DeSoto will drop out of the taxi business. We'll run limos or something else. Because the whole industry is headed for collapse."

The problem Kim is talking about: The rise of companies that act like cabs, offering rides for hire, but operate outside of the rules and regulations that the traditional industry is mandated to follow.

They're called Lyft, Sidecar, Uber, and Tickengo, and they offer the same basic model: You can track a ride on your phone based on geolocation, the driver can choose whether to pick you up — and you pay a fee that the companies call voluntary but everyone knows is the basis of a venture-capital-funded business model.

They refuse to accept the city's oversight, running without the medallions that traditional cabs need to pick up passengers.

Cab regulators are furious: "Those of us who know the situation know there's a reason that taxis have been regulated for 350 years," Chris Hayashi, who runs the taxis division of the city's Municipal Transportation Agency, told us. "If you follow this to its logical conclusion, it will kill the entire industry."

That's a problem for a number of reasons — for one thing, Hayashi said, "you're not going to find one of these new services picking up a disabled grandmother at the hospital and taking her home to the housing projects."

But there's another element that policy-makers need to consider: By allowing the faux cabs to operate, the city is risking the loss of some $300 million in projected revenue, money that is supposed to underwrite Muni and public transit.

Hundreds of drivers who bought medallions with long-term loans may wind up underwater — and the local credit union that financed them could lose millions.

PERMITS FOR SALE

Two years ago, San Francisco radically changed the way it distributes taxi medallions. Since 1978, the valuable permits were given out essentially free to working drivers, on the basis of a waiting list that could be as long as 15 years.

Now, they're sold at a fixed rate; any active driver can buy one, and every time one is bought or sold, the city gets a substantial cut.

There's a lot of money involved. The permits have been selling for $300,000, and the city has roughly 1,000 available, and is considering issuing 800 more. Over the next 10 to 15 years, Hayashi agrees, the city's take could approach $300 million.

Some 300 have already been sold, with most of the drivers taking out a special loan from San Francisco Federal Credit Union. It's a good deal — a permit holder can count on not only the money from driving but another $2,500 or so a month from renting the medallion out for shifts when he or she isn't in the car.

But competition from Lyft and the others has already eroded the value of the medallions. "Absolutely, it's happening," Hayashi said. "We're asking the commission to lower the price to $250,000 to reflect that."

And they may have to lower it more — a lot more — in the future.

Everybody agrees the city's taxi industry is a mess — customers constantly complain that they can't find cabs, particularly at busy times. And the new tech-driven alternatives have sprung up to provide competition.

Comments

I'm not sure if Hayashi and I live in the same city. Or the same planet. The notion that cabbies willingly pick up old grandmothers and drive them to the projects is absurd. The notion that cabbies are better drivers is absurd. The notion that up to $30m a year is "$300m" is absurd - why not just multiply that $30m buy 1000 to say that uber will cost the city $30 BILLION! 30m / 800k residents is another $45 per resident per year. Frankly, If I could see zero cabs on the streets and have only wonderful uber drivers, I would happily pay that amount. Ed Lee doesn't give a hoot for good reason: this is the best thing to happen to urban transportation in decades. There is no industry more corrupt and in need of reform via competition than cab companies. Good riddance, and don't let the door hit you on the way out!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 09, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

You are a complete idiot. Get schooled and read the Hara Report before you spout off bullshit. I have driven and dispatched for 6 years and I can tell you that taxi's pick up the elderly, the disabled, your drunk ass, everyone. It's the law.
There are systematic cascading problems in the business without a doubt the cab companies are definitely not the problem, the common . But letting some dumb young hipster chick from Iowa pretend she is a "ridesharing" driver while actually being a gypsy cab, she is contributing to congestion by being an inexperienced, untrained, underinsured danger to herself and others on the road taking up space belonging to an integral part of the public transportation system.
How long till some San Franciscan inadvertently orders an illegal cab via the app "sellemintosexslavery.com" or "meetaserialkiller.org"?
People like you are the reason why you have trouble getting a cab, it's not the fault of the driver. You want to be mad you can't easily get a cab, demand the city to issue more medallions. Demand the city gives you an app you can see ALL available taxis across the city and book a ride with full accountability for both driver and passenger.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 12:00 am

Actually Taxi Driver you are the complete idiot! If you would have been doing your job instead of pulling over to ask someone where they are going and just take them instead, and accepting credit cards instead of tax evading. There would not be a problem. I read the Hara report. Also drove for almost 9 years as a taxi driver until an accident with an uninsured motorist knocked me out of driving. Cab Companies and taxi drivers are the problem. Tell me why National Cab Company did not have uninsured motorist coverage? Nor a seat belt in the taxi to break my fall in the accident? Tell me why the SFMTA Chris Hyashi when I went to her and asked about these things ignored me? The taxi industry is corrupt and the SFMTA has not made it any better for the public or the drivers. It is not safe to ride ion a San Francisco taxi cab! When I needed medical attention National Cab waited almost 30 days before allowing me to open a Workers Compensation claim (illegal)!

In addition talk about drivers who do not know where they are going, have you rode in a taxi cab in San Francisco? Cab drivers in this city are ignorant when it comes to knowing the city, by releasing more cabs on the street you will have more and more ignorant cab drivers on the street. Safety, just the other day another cab driver hits yet another pedestrian on Broadway. Do not be calling other people on the blogs idiots. Cab drivers need to look at themselves and say why are people reaching out to other services for rides. The San Francisco Cab Companies and Taxi drivers in this city are the problem, not the ride share services.

Posted by Dean Clark on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 8:11 am

Mr. Clark, you say in the above passage that you drove for almost 9 years "until an accident with an uninsured motorist knocked you out of driving." Hmm, interesting. I know your face very well, I know your dull green Ford SUV. So if you were SO INJURED in this accident, then why do I consistently see you DRIVING, with your sidecar/lyft app phone affixed to the windshield of your Ford SUV on Friday and Saturday night? Wait a minute, I thought you said you were too injured to be driving a vehicle for hire? I see you out there all the time. Do you not deny that you currently drive for multiple app based rogue vehicle for hire companies? Did your injuries mysteriously disappear when you started driving for sidecar and lyft?

The truth is, Mr. Clark, you were found to be an overly litigious individual who seemed to fake an injury to extract money from cab companies and insurance companies. Moreover, you had a reputation that you were just a generally unlikeable individual, willing to lie, cheat and steal to serve your own means. Word spread of your generally disagreeable personality traits throughout the cab industry, and no one wanted to hire you. To protect themselves AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC from an individual who was found to consistently lie, cheat and steal to serve his own ends, you were kind of blacklisted from the cab industry.

And now you are driving as an unlicensed app driver in your own vehicle, with no numbers or markings on the side of it. Do you even have a TCP number for your Ford SUV? How about commercial insurance?

Great. And lyft and sidecar are the solution and we should just get rid of cabs, get rid of regulations. It's ludicrous.

Certainly there should be more severe repercussions for drivers who refuse to convey passengers to the Sunset and Richmond when not at the tail end of their shift. And the universal smart phone app using GPS for all cabs is coming, has been approved already by the SFMTA board. Until then, there are at least 700 legitimate cabs on Flywheel and who knows how many more on Uber taxi. But unregulated nonsense which benefits a few elite VC firms to the detriment of thousands of working cab drivers who in many cases have dedicated their lives to a difficult and thankless job, this is just wrong.

Posted by Schofield on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

I had to reply to this one...

I was on 2nd Street near the ball park. I called every cab company to pick me up and take me to the Presidio.

Every single cab came, asked where I was going, and then said "I'm sorry, I am about to get off, I cannot take you". EVERY SINGLE ONE!

I used Uber and guess what... I was able to get a ride to the Presidio.

I will NEVER take a cab in this city again. NEVER.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 8:32 am

Cab drivers are on a 10 hour shift. Depending on the time of day you were calling for a cab, it could be the end of most of the drivers shift and they HAVE to return it on time for other schedule drivers or they get in trouble for it.

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

Ok I need to point out as others have said the Taxi Drivers work on 10 shifts in the City. That means the cab has to be in the garage by 9 hours 59 minutes or they get charged a fee. Not a cheap fee either. I have not driven in San Francisco but I have driven in Sacramento where it's a whole different system. The company I drove for offered a 12 hour lease in which you could extend an hour or 2 by just paying the pro rated amount for those extra hours or you could do what I did and lease a 24 hour cab. At the risk of being flamed by everyone that is how I think it should be in San Francisco. Let them drive more than 10 hours and make the Gate more reasonable as well. Besides part of the problem is your not going to have steady business for all of those 10 hours. 12 and 24 hour cabs would allow drivers to pull over and wait if it's not busy. As well I also wanted to point out about Lyft. I watched an interview on youtube of Lyft's founder and he specifically stated yes the drivers are insured through their own personal liability insurance. Ok folks go into your file cabinet and tell me if your policy covers hauling passengers for hire ? Thats right it does not. So if one of these Lyft drivers gets in a bad accident allstate is not going to pay the claim. Lyft also has the legal right to say hey we just set the driver up with the app he or she was acting on their own. So think of that next time you use a rideshare service.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 10:48 pm

"I have driven and dispatched for 6 years and I can tell you that taxi's pick up the elderly, the disabled, your drunk ass, everyone. It's the law."

Which 6 years was that? Now, I'd love to see you try to get a cab to actually show up in Sunset or Richmond. Someplace populated trying to go to the Richmond? They tell you to get out if you flag one down Market and ask to go to the ends of the earth like that.

I've absolutely heard the "I'm about to get off shift" line over and over unless I'm going on a short trip from one bar area to another. How many Friday night shifts end at 9:15pm?

Catching a cab to SOMA?: "Sorry: ballgame just let out. I'm not going down there."

Credit Cards: "No, sorry, the machine is broken." And it appears to have been broken a while since he made a laminated sign saying it was broken.

You suggest we demand the city make an app. Really? How about YOU make an app? What is stopping Yellow, DeSoto, ANYONE from doing that? Greed? Don't want to spend the money because you assume that the public will always be captive customers?

You say we should request more medallions? Guess what? We have...and the drivers' union did an awesome job fighting it every time the city brings it up.

The underinsured danger to the road created by untrained drivers? Please. Have you ever seen a cab drive in this city? How many of them are on the phone the entire time they are driving? I'd wager the average gypsy cab driver has better skill, speaks enough English (or hell, even Spanish) to communicate with me and has more insurance than the cabs. Some dispatch companies actually create individual entities for every single cab so that they can shield the parent from liability when the underinsured cabbie does something stupid like run over a bicyclist, or throw their car up on the curb, or running a red light and hitting a cable-car.

Cabs have gone out of their way to be the lowest common denominator in terms of quality and service because they thought they would always have a captive market. Not all, but the majority of cabbies on the street are so entitled, rude, technologically behind the times (call and pray for a cab to arrive sometime in the next hour as opposed to being assigned to a car immediately) and generally difficult to deal with that it became easier to start a whole market of companies to replace you, and they charge MORE money and people are happy to pay it. You have no one to blame but yourselves.

Posted by SFBob on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:43 am

First off, there is no "drivers union" of which you speak in the above passage. SF cab drivers are non-unionized; if there were a union, you can imagine sidecar and lyft would not be operating like they are now.

Secondly, you are right to call out cab drivers who refuse service. They should be reported and repeat offenders should be taken off the street. The problem is, guess what is going to happen to this repeat offender who is taken off the street under the current system? They are probably going to start driving for sidecar, lyft or uber! With no governmental oversight and no regulation, and no markings on the side of the cars! Great.

The taxi industry in SF currently has around 1700 full time cabs on the road and 50 "peak time" cabs to cover rush hour and Friday and Saturday nights, with 120 more full time cabs set to hit the road in 2013. There should be 500 "peak time" cabs to help cover rush hour and Friday and Saturday night, not 50. That's a no brainer!

And, there honestly are about 10-15% of drivers who are rude, flout the law, speed, kick passengers out, or worse. So, these drivers should be REPORTED and replaced. Hey, maybe they could even be replaced with some of these apparently young, hip, lyft and sidecar drivers (I don't have a smart phone, so I've never taken a rideshare app.) That would greatly increase the overall cab driver quotient in the city.

But the point of this article is that cab permits are a valuable public asset. And if you let rogue operators in on the game for free, it is a disservice to the public. Why should one or two apps with millions of dollars in VC money from silicon valley have carte blanche to flout regulations and erode the value of public assets? This sounds like the way business is handled in post-Communist Russia. It's just not good governance. This isn't Somalia, this isn't some proto-anarchist temporary autonomous zone. It's a civilized country and I'd like to see it stay that way.

Posted by Schofield on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

Yes, I agree that the medallions are a public asset. And just as I feel that Twitter should pay its fair share of taxes, so should Lyft drivers buy medallions.

But is that what Tim is even arguing for? It seems not. Instead, it seems the whine to action is to just shut 'em down.

A number of people have made comments about putting more medallions out there, creating apps for regular taxis, modernizing the dispatch system, holding rude and lazy cabbies accountable, etc.

Well, great. But when is that going to happen? Tim can sit in his office all day and bloviate about these things if he wants (and it seems he does very much want). But all the bloviating in the world is not going magically make the city cough up some more medallions, add another 450 peak time cabs, subject taxi drivers to more rigorous training in customer service, or create more thorough regulations for keeping cabbies honest. (It's funny how we keep hearing about the wonders of regulation re taxis and the dangers of the unregulated car sharing services while it is the taxi drivers who do whatever they want and car sharing drivers who hustle to provide a good, clean, safe experience. Mayhaps the regulations are focused on the wrong things, i.e. making the city money vs. providing excellent service.)

Until those things actually happen -- more medallions, better-trained cabbies, apps, modernized equipment, etc. -- I think a lot of us are going to stick with the safe, affordable, and competent alternative.

Posted by Partridge on Jun. 14, 2013 @ 9:28 am

It is unfortunate that the Taxi Industry does have really bad and rude drivers. Thats not to say ALL DRIVERS ARE BAD in the industry. I am a cab driver in San Francisco and I am one of those drivers who does pick up those in richmond district and sunset district because I know those people probably have waited for a cab for quite some time and usually those fares are good ones! Not to mention I am a ramp driver so I alway ALWAYS cater to those in need. The industry needs to be better about selecting its drivers. Now a days taxi companies hire anybody and everybody because they have to fill the cabs demanded by the SFMTA. Not to mention SFMTA lowered the standard of having to be 25 years of age to drive a taxi to 21! Now thats lowering the standards and opening to untrained drivers. Its a big mess... And again, there is no union. Hasn't been for quite sometime. If there was a union, I believe we wouldn't be having all these problems within the Industry.

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

The cab industry has not listened to the consumer about subpar experiences out on the street, just like your take that cabs have to obey laws on picking up everyone, etc. Your are so out of touch, just like the industry. Well, the consumers will no longer complain, they will use a better business model.

In general, things change and evolve. Adapt and be relevant, or everything else around you will without you.

Using rideshares, I am glad I can leave a rating for each driver, and I can review their current rating. It's in their best interest to provide good service. I can't say the same for all cab drivers.

I suggest for cab drivers to let us use our credit cards. Give us a ride even if it is too short or much too far out in the "sticks". Let us make a stop to pick up a friend. You know, all the stuff you heard while you were driving during your 6 years in the antiquated industry.

Sorry you have to be customer service-oriented to the people who give you business.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

You are a complete idiot. Get schooled and read the Hara Report before you spout off bullshit. I have driven and dispatched for 6 years and I can tell you that taxi's pick up the elderly, the disabled, your drunk ass, everyone. It's the law.
There are systematic cascading problems in the business without a doubt the cab companies are definitely not the problem, the common . But letting some dumb young hipster chick from Iowa pretend she is a "ridesharing" driver while actually being a gypsy cab, she is contributing to congestion by being an inexperienced, untrained, underinsured danger to herself and others on the road taking up space belonging to an integral part of the public transportation system.
How long till some San Franciscan inadvertently orders an illegal cab via the app "sellemintosexslavery.com" or "meetaserialkiller.org"?
People like you are the reason why you have trouble getting a cab, it's not the fault of the driver. You want to be mad you can't easily get a cab, demand the city to issue more medallions. Demand the city gives you an app you can see ALL available taxis across the city and book a ride with full accountability for both driver and passenger.

Posted by Travis Bickle on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 12:02 am

Actually Taxi Driver you are the complete idiot! If you would have been doing your job instead of pulling over to ask someone where they are going and just take them instead, and accepting credit cards instead of tax evading. There would not be a problem. I read the Hara report. Also drove for almost 9 years as a taxi driver until an accident with an uninsured motorist knocked me out of driving. Cab Companies and taxi drivers are the problem. Tell me why National Cab Company did not have uninsured motorist coverage? Nor a seat belt in the taxi to break my fall in the accident? Tell me why the SFMTA Chris Hyashi when I went to her and asked about these things ignored me? The taxi industry is corrupt and the SFMTA has not made it any better for the public or the drivers. It is not safe to ride ion a San Francisco taxi cab! When I needed medical attention National Cab waited almost 30 days before allowing me to open a Workers Compensation claim (illegal)!

In addition talk about drivers who do not know where they are going, have you rode in a taxi cab in San Francisco? Cab drivers in this city are ignorant when it comes to knowing the city, by releasing more cabs on the street you will have more and more ignorant cab drivers on the street. Safety, just the other day another cab driver hits yet another pedestrian on Broadway. Do not be calling other people on the blogs idiots. Cab drivers need to look at themselves and say why are people reaching out to other services for rides. The San Francisco Cab Companies and Taxi drivers in this city are the problem, not the ride share services.

Posted by Dean Clark on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 8:10 am

You obviously know nothing about the taxi industry.
Joseph Fleischman, former medallion holder and SF taxi driver for 21 years

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 7:31 am

You must be the biggest idiot on the planet. The Uber drivers are almost all cab drivers or former cab drivers. Many who can't get jobs driving a cab because of bad driving records or is behavior problems. Uber does not carefully screen their driver as well as you might think. It is really easy to get hired at uber driving some else's car. Trust me, I went through the process....they didn't even ask me for my drivers license or print out.

Sounds to me like you like getting your ass kissed. Well, we don't want your kind in our cabs anyways. You want uber....you can have it.

Posted by sfmf2013 on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:01 am

I disagree with you companies like Sidecar, Lyft and Uber are taking driver creditability very serious. I would like to see the SFMTA take it as serious when giving A cards out to permit the San Francisco taxi drivers, I worked as a accident investigator for two of the cab companies and can tell you that many times when I got to the scene, the police were carrying off the taxi driver in a police car because of a warrant for their arrest. Taxi drivers should be screened yearly to ensure that the person driving the taxi is not wanted and has a clean driving record instead of only checking the first time they apply. A driver could drive for 25 years and have several accidents and tickets, or have warrants and still be driving a cab. Look at the Taxi driver who killed a pedestrian on Eddie and Larkin and found out later did jail time for conspiring to kill his own father. The SFMTA and the city could stand to learn a few things from companies like Sidecar, Lyft and Uber. So sfmf2013 get a life and stop spreading rumors about something you know nothing about. I take it your a taxi driver that just doesn't get it. Pay your taxes and come clean!

Posted by Dean Clark on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

Uber and Lyft are large scale businesses that openly defy the law, yet they operate in San Francisco with impunity. If this was happening in any other industry, alarms would be going off in City Hall and in the Grand Jury. Why do the mayor and supervisors look away?

Posted by Charles Rathbone on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 6:28 am

The same tech investors who backed Ed Lee's campaign are investing in Uber and Lyft. They're the ones calling the shots in Room 200, and they have big money at stake in the success of these businesses.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 6:44 am

Ed Ree....ruv $$$$

Posted by sfmf2013 on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:04 am
Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:16 am

Racism, and not even linguistically accurate.

Posted by Hortencia on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:16 am

If the city chooses not to regulate such entities, then no law is being broken.

Are you seriously suggesting that nobody can pay someone else for a ride in their car without breaking the law?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:10 am

If you give me a ride in your car, and I chip in a few bucks for the gas or if I pay the bridge toll, that is not breaking the law. At least it is not illegal to the extent that it would invalidate your auto insurance.

But if you are doing it ten hours a day in your personal car and charging taxi-like fares to strangers, then it is breaking the law and it does invalidate your insurance.

In that case you and your passenger are both at risk in the event of an accident. An injured passenger will have little choice but to sue you personally.

Posted by Charles Rathbone on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

The issue is whether the government should ruin these services, and therefore competition, by burdening them with masses of regulations and fees, which typically are just a form of extortion, and provide no extra security or service.

Posted by anon on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 6:06 am

Anyone who thinks taxi drivers are better drivers than average people better need their heads examine.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 7:58 am

Actually when you spend 10 hours a day 5-7 days a week dodging rogue pedestrians, road hazards, and bad drivers you get to be quite skilled as a driver. I have nearly a half million miles under my belt and I can drive like a complete maniac and still be 1000% safer than the transplant from Iowa driving a Lyft. There is a recent study that shows cab drivers with multiple years of experience have created new more complex pathways in the hippocampus and cingulate gyrus (sp?) effectively making them superior at navigating than the average person. Being superior at navigating and having a brain that has developed specialized pathways for that task makes you a safer driver period.
Cab drivers drive the way they do to get from point a to point b faster than anyone else so they can get on to the next ride. It's kinda hard to get on to the next ride if you crash.

Unregulated vehicles are unfair, unsafe, and above all counter intuitive to the purpose they are claiming to be about. If you are a true ride share you are not taking 20plus rides a day.

On a side note, it's just as hard to get a Lyft, Sidecar, or Über in the far flung reaches of the city as it is a cab. This is the flow of the business.

Get a clue people.

Posted by Travis Bickle on Apr. 18, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

The city has no jurisdiction to regulate those illegal operations. It's the purview of the State. You can't stop something unless there's a law broken and there are no laws yet that address this situation so stop blaming San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 8:30 am

"They're under a legal mandate to pick up everyone — or any age or ethnic group. They can't turn down a fare because the person wants to go to a part of town they don't like. They can't legally discriminate."

Bulls**t. Every time I take a taxi, I've had at LEAST one driver pass me by saying "oh, sorry, I can't pick you up because [insert random excuse]." I had one guy tell me that he had to pee. I had another guy, after he had already picked me up, stop a block later and kick me out because he forgot his phone at his last stop.

Also, I'm assuming that taxis with the light on are available for hire. How many of them have stopped for me? Maybe 1 in 5. If I'm lucky. If you're not for hire, TURN YOUR LIGHT OFF!!! If you are for hire, STOP when I flag you down. Oh, and when I pull out my credit card to pay for the fare, don't roll your eyes at me and beg for cash. I don't carry cash around anymore. This is the 21st Century.

If you want my business so bad, work for it. Be happy you pick me up. Have a conversation with me, instead of talking in your native language with your buddies on the phone. Learn the shortest routes to get me where I want to go, instead of the route that will get you that extra dollar in fare (hint: Oak and Fell are your friends, not Haight and Hayes!). If you make me feel welcome and important, your tip will increase! I've doubled the fare for a few of you because you've been a great driver!

Posted by Disgruntled Haight-Ashbury resident on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:04 am

inevitable that all these alternatives appear.

What we need next is an alternate transit system, maybe with jitneys that pick people up where they want.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:17 am

CraigsList has a section called "RideShare" which has been doing this for years.

There's the casual car pool system from the East Bay over the bridge, again decades old.

Then there's the informal "let me give you something for gas" arrangement.

So the only difference here is that the internet and smart phones makes it easier to hook up driver and passenger. But it's really no different from any peer-to-peer transaction and, typically, the city does not regulate those, nor should they.

There's a service near me that is "gay only". It's very popular. So what?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:09 am

You talking about 'homobile' as in gay only. If you are there's a little more to it than 'gay only'. Trust me.

Posted by pete moss on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 7:52 am

Covering expenses and sharing rides is not the same thing as a commercial operation.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 8:15 am

It's not clear why you are any more at risk by riding in my car just because you are paying me.

Posted by anon on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 11:11 am

The issues with these alternatives sound eminently reformable to me. I think the real problem the Bay Guardian has with these services is that they cost more and, in some cases, involve a ride in a luxury vehicle.

Posted by Hortencia on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:19 am

1) There should only be one provider. Competition is a bad thing.

2) That provider should be the government, an agency of the government, a non-profit, or a highly-regulated "approved" private provider

3) The standard should be very low, forcing even the wealthy to "slum it".

4) Any profits should go to a city slush fund

This is why SFBG foams and froths at all these internet entities because they cannot be controlled or homogenized into the lowest common denominator.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:34 am

Guest, I'm in favor of a well-regulated taxi regime as part of the city's transport infrastructure. Where I think the Bay Guardian and I part company is that I have no problem with a tiered structure in which companies like Uber exist and can be used by people who can choose a more luxurious ride. I don't have a problem, for example, with Uber's drivers being under the medallion system or something like it, and for the resulting revenue going to the city.

Posted by Hortencia on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 10:00 am

just because someone runs a car service, over and above what we all pay anyway thru vehicle tax etc.

Posted by anon on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 6:08 am

"cannot make a living" and then you note how many drivers there are.

Obviously there is a "sweet spot" in determining how many cabs there should be in SF. And that should be decided by the amrket and not be the city, nor by any group trying to protect the welfare of one group of drivers versus another.

Given how hard it is to find a cab, clearly there are too few cabs. So new bllod coming in is a good thing. And if that bypasses the city's bureaucratic and partisan medallion system, so be it.

The market can fix what the government cannot.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:37 am

The notion that deregulating the cab business will be a good thing for the consumer is overstated. In the late eighties a expansive and thorough study was done comparing deregulated cities with cities (like New York etc) that were heavily regulated. The conclusion was that the deregulated cities had HIGHER cab fares.
This was due to the fact that there were so many cabs that the cab drivers had to make up for the lack of business by ripping off the public. The solution of course is to get more cabs on the road.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 10:14 am

I have also been reading about people being refuswed rides to certain parts of the city. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THAT. Feel free to report these people to the MTA. THERE IS A SIMPLE WAY TO DO THIS . CALL 311 and complain. If everybody did this these drivers would get in line. iT IS CALLED REFUSAL TO CONVEY and can mean the suspension of the driver or worse.

Posted by REFUSAL TO CONVEY on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 10:23 am

There should be a rating system in the cabs. But then again none of the drivers who have driven for 10 plus years would be driving very long because they would probably have a one star rating!

Posted by Dean Clark on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 3:37 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

True, but I was thinking more for a tool the SFMTA could use to weed out bad drivers. But thanks I forgot about yelp....

Posted by Dean Clark on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 7:22 am

As a retired taxi cab driver, with over sixty years in and out of the industry, this is the best written artical I have ever seen about the taxi industry. Tim Redmond, Editor of the S.F.Bay Gardian researched this and had his facts down perfectly. The taxi industry, and it's drivers are not afraid of competition, but the competition must play by the same rules that the taxi industry plays by. We in the taxi industry give thousands of dollars in fees to the city every year. We must have a million dollars in insurance per cab. This industry gave the city twenty two and a half million dollars in the last year and a half alone, and if we can require the illegal apps like Sidecar, and Lyft to abide by the same regulations as the taxi cab companies, and it's drivers have to abide by the city stands to make three hundred million dollars over the next ten years by selling medallions, and surrender fees from medallions. To put a new medallion on the street a taxi cab driver has to pay two hundred fifty thousand for a medallion. The city also rents out a number of medallions for two thousand dollars a month. And yet, Sidecar, and Lyft can put out their cars on the streets with little or no insurance, and no money to the city of San Fransisco. Lets have an even playing feild or there will be no more taxi industry in San Fransisco. Remember, when you get into a Lyft, or Sidecar, and have an accident you will have little or no chance of recieving any compensation for your accident, and as a tax payer of San Fransisco you are loosing millions of dollars in revenue by supporting operations like Lyft, or Sidecar. Also, taxi cab drivers who have paid two hundred fifty thousand for their medallions couold loose everything they have paid for, and the city companies who put up the loans, also stand to loose everything.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 10:25 am

I drive a bit for one of these services.

Here is what my passengers discuss, over and over:

-They love the service
-They use it as much as they can and avoid cabs if possible
-They usually find it impossible to get a cab
-Cab drivers won't go to their neighborhoods
-Cabs always pretend their credit card machine is broken

Most significantly:
Many young female passengers have specifically said they
have felt unsafe, intimidated and creeped out by cab drivers
They feel safer in rideshare.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 11:17 am

or who is known to me thru some local organization, than I would be in an anonymous cab.

The idea that anyone who gives a ride to someone else has to be regulated is excessive and naive at the same time.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 11:32 am

I'm thinking since SideCar and Lyft have worked so well and Mayor Ed Lee seems to love it (as well it's put the accursed taxi industry in check right). Lets kick it up a notch. I'm mean lets also fix Muni. I mean they are part of the MTA and after all who doesn't hate Muni. So I'm gonna go buy one of them $ 3,000 dollar school buses off of Ebay. I'll develop an app and drive around the city picking you up. Heck I'll even take clipper cards just cause I can. Just think when we are like some third world country where anyone can just buy a car or a bus and put a sign on it and go make some money. Won't it be great.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

There is no such thing as an anonymous cab. All you need is the number and call 311 to make a complaint.
Who are you going to call when a Lyft driver says "Hey Honey wanna go to my place for some action?"

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 11:52 am

There is no such thing as an anonymous cab. Call 311 with the cab number and MTA will track down the driver. You don't even need the company name.
Who do you call when a Lyft driver makes an inappropriate suggestion or worse?
You already signed a 16 page release holding them harmless.
As for regulation, did you see the 60 Minutes program that talked about the unregulated pharmalogical business of compounding?
patients got injected with moldy medicine and it killed a few of them

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

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