The ride-share parasites

A cab driver makes the case against deregulation

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OPINION These days, all signs point to the eventual deregulation of the San Francisco cab industry.

On any given weekend night in the city, you can find a wide array of illegal taxis operating with impunity, including limo drivers, out-of-town taxis, Super Shuttle vans, ZIP cars, and even some sketchy folks driving their private vans down Valencia Street at 2am soliciting rides for hire. If you have wheels, you can become your own livery service.

It's a free-for-all out here. The city appears to be giving all comers carte blanche. And while the courts wrangle over ride-sharing rules and what constitutes a taxicab, the cab industry could cave in under the unfair advantage given to its competitors.

The general manager of ride-share startup Uber, Ilya Abyzov, has been quoted as saying that cab companies have had a "state-sanctioned monopoly. They're not used to competition." I have two words for him, and they're not, Yo taxi! We're competing with about as much chance as the proverbial one-legged man in a kicking fight.

The advertisement on the website of another startup, Lyft, uses for recruiting drivers reads: "Make $22 an hour, have a blast, drive when you want, meet new people, make friends, learn about new restaurants ..." This idyllic version of a cab shift could never happen without real cab drivers holding up the foundation.

I don't think you'll find a Lyft cab willing to take a sick grandmother from Kaiser Hospital to her home in the Alice Griffith projects. A pink mustache sighting at Griffith and Fitzgerald will probably coincide with the next great earthquake because only a drastic geological shift will cause that to happen.

Right now, it's a cakewalk for the ride-share drivers. But without the cab industry picking up the rear and girding the underbelly, these parasites couldn't exist. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a parasite as an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host's expense. Substitute the word "nutrients" for the word "money" and you have what in the cab business we call a bingo.

At the end of the day, driving a cab is a hustle. And once your host is gone and the cab business gets deregulated, kiss your city tours goodbye. You won't be able to rely on donations anymore, and your legal babble and dishonest terminology won't save you from a harsh descent into the street, into the dog-eat-dog world of a real cab driver.

And then, you'll know what it's like to hustle, in the middle of the night when you're worried about your gates and gas, and it gets real slow, and you have to take chances with your life.

Desoto Shelby III is the pen name for a San Francisco taxi driver.

 

Comments

self-serving about a cab driver complaining about more competition.

No, sir, nothing at all.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 23, 2013 @ 11:38 pm

MUNI supervises the taxis in this town...hmmmmmm, and it's the last political gasp of the taxi medallion owners and cab companies...service sucked for decades...so taxi companies of SF, welcome to the world of bookstores..and mom and pop stores...and every other business that has had to adjust to new modes.
You rode yourselves into the sunset of an old western movie ton..shut up

Posted by Guestbig sf fun on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 9:18 am

Until the new ride options came about, Taxi's were always insufficient. Never enough of them when you really needed one. Now we actually have options so we're not always out of luck at 2:30 in the morning, or anytime during NYE, after work in the financial district, any Friday night, etc. Welcome to the new reality. We, as paying customers, LOVE it.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

Until the new ride options came about, Taxi's were always insufficient. Never enough of them when you really needed one. Now we actually have options so we're not always out of luck at 2:30 in the morning, or anytime during NYE, after work in the financial district, any Friday night, etc. Welcome to the new reality. We, as paying customers, LOVE it.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

choice. Screw the yellow cabs and screw the city. The people want what they want.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

Tired of drinking the same old "homogenized" (boring!) "pasteurized" (who cares?) "milk" from an old smelly cow?

Try Mylk, the new sharing platform that allows friends to come together to share milk and milk-like substances!

Listen to Jamie's story: "I used to get boring milk from a grocery story where they got it from a dirty old farm. And it was way overpriced due to government regulation of the mafia-like dairy industry! But since my friends hooked me into the Mylk community, my life has improved! Sure, sometimes the milk is pink or fuzzy, sometimes it smells a little weird... but I've met new friends, joined a band, and started getting exciting heart palpitations!"

TERMS OF SERVICE: Mylk does not represent its product as actual milk. You and those you share Mylk with accept all risks of the transaction including obesity, weight loss, heart palpitations, sudden death, slow death, and death from radiation poisoning. For a full list, see mylk.me/terms.

Don't Have A Cow! (tm)

Posted by Mylk Love on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

Tired of drinking the same old "homogenized" (boring!) "pasteurized" (who cares?) "milk" from an old smelly cow?

Try Mylk, the new sharing platform that allows friends to come together to share milk and milk-like substances!

Listen to Jamie's story: "I used to get boring milk from a grocery story where they got it from a dirty old farm. And it was way overpriced due to government regulation of the mafia-like dairy industry! But since my friends hooked me into the Mylk community, my life has improved! Sure, sometimes the milk is pink or fuzzy, sometimes it smells a little weird... but I've met new friends, joined a band, and started getting exciting heart palpitations!"

TERMS OF SERVICE: Mylk does not represent its product as actual milk. You and those you share Mylk with accept all risks of the transaction including obesity, weight loss, heart palpitations, sudden death, slow death, and death from radiation poisoning. For a full list, see mylk.me/terms.

Don't Have A Cow! (tm)

Posted by Mylk Love on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

Don't believe the taxi-industry mafiosi when they tell you Mylk just posted the same post three times!

The second two were actually from the new Mylk ripoffs -- SideCow and Moober!

Don't trust those two, their model is not based on the actual "sharing" of milk! Only believe in the original Mylk, you can tell it's Mylk because it makes you grow a pink mustache!

Posted by Mylk Love on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

And then have the driver tell you they can't take a credit card or take you to the Outer Richmond because it's "the end of my shift." We all long to return to those days!! Ban all town cars. Force us to wait again!!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

Unlike those old milks you are used to drinking, the new Mylk platform is already seamlessly integrated into your credit card! No need to fumble for change!

As for the "end of shift" problem, those old milks were plagued by a needless government regulation called the "expiration date." I mean, come on, am I right! Mylk replaces this apparatchik mentality with a rating system -- if you unfortunately receive spoiled milk through our service, you are free to pay as little (or nothing) for it as you like, and you can rate your Mylk experience, which assures that only quality Mylk will come your way in the future!

Try Mylk! Then Share It With Your Friends! (tm)

Posted by Mylk Love on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

Wish I thought of this myself. LOL!

Posted by Greg on Aug. 09, 2013 @ 10:27 pm

I'll tip 10% extra just on principle.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 09, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

I'll pay them what I think it's worth. Sharing is caring, right?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 09, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

policy find that, ironically, people offer more money than a fixed price menu.

Americans don't like to be thought of as "cheap". It's a stigma which is why of course Americans over-tip in restaurants.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 09, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

What I like best is I get to bump fists, just like the Black guys do. Totally KEWL!

Posted by tagletigre on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

The points made are valid, as far as they go, but they do nothing to address the vexing issues faced by those who need to get a cab. I live uptown, and when I step up to Geary to get a cab, which used to be drop dead easy, 10 years ago, I've more often than not been forced to call those I was scheduled to meet and tell them I'll be late, as no empty cabs come by in more than 20 minutes of waiting; or they pass by with the driver not even looking towards the sidewalks; Cabs have their sign on with passengers; or sign off without.

When I have a load of groceries at Rainbow I either have to wait 20 minutes for a called cab to arrive, there, or walk, hoping to find a cab, and get all the way to Market Street without seeing a single cab.

I call for a cab, from home, and 20 minutes later, it still hasn't come.

I can sympathise with the cabbies, when I'm not cursing them; but clearly they have issues they aren't dealing with. Instead of whining about parasite alternatives to a broken business model, perhaps it would be better to shut up and organize the cabbies; get better technology into the cabs and try to learn from the ride share programs.

Getting a cab, especially in the thick of the City, isn't a reserve and wait (and wait) affair, it by nature is a grab and go proposition. Unfortunately, in modern San Francisco, there all too often is nothing to grab, and unless one takes up the alternatives, the go is slow. Quit whining and get your act together.

Posted by Gryphonisle on Apr. 26, 2013 @ 11:07 am

One of Lyft terms

Such Driver will be solely responsible for any and all liability which results from or is alleged as a result of the operation of the vehicle such Driver uses to transport Riders, including, but not limited to personal injuries, death and property damages.

One of Sidecar terms

In no event will Sidecar be responsible for any damages (including personal injury, death, property damage, lost time or wages, etc.) Resulting from or related to a ride facilitated by the Service, or for resolving any disputes between you and another user. You hereby agree that your use of the Service is at your sole risk.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 09, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

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