Dealing with the faux cabs

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Lots of comments on my article outlining the problems with the fake cabs that are riding around town without medallions or proper screening. The main complaint the trolls have appears to be their dislike of cab drivers and the difficulty of getting a cab in some places and at certain times. I've never had a bad experience with an SF cab driver in 30 years of living here and taking cabs, but I'm sure there are others who have; no industry is perfect.

My main concern is that the cab interlopers are lying and cheating -- insisting that they don't have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Somebody in one of the comments said that there's nothing wrong with "ride shares," and it's true that everyone from Craigslist to Caltrans has some verison of a ride board, and it's not uncommon for casual carpools to share gas costs.

But that's not what Lyft and Uber etc. are doing. They're private businesses, set up with venture capital backers, with the aim of making a profit by ferrying passengers around cities. That's the definition of a taxicab business. If these were just casual shared rides, there would be no business model and they wouldn't have investors.

I'll tell you how we can settle the issue quickly. How about all of us who need a ride around town contact Lyft, get a lift, and then voluntarily pay nothing. Or just offer the price of gas -- $4.50 a gallon, most of these cars get 25 miles to the gallon, most rides around town are five miles or less, so that would be 90 cents.

Passengers get profiles on the system, just like drivers. Anyone who does that will quickly find it impossible to get rides. Which will demonstrate that this isn't ride-sharing, it's commerce. And while I'm all in favor of competition, everyone should play by the same rules.

 

Comments

Irksome? Get over it. Get with it.

Posted by Nick P on Apr. 17, 2013 @ 10:34 am
Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2013 @ 10:53 am

Get Flywheel. Whew! Problem solved.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 7:23 am

Tim my question is how many times have you taken a cab then? Must not be a lot in thirty years. I understand your favoritism towards cab drivers, you made that a point years ago. But there is a real issue with cab drivers and cab companies in San Francisco that even the SFMTA will not address. Its not just about getting a cab or not, its the whole broken system of the industry. Changes have been made over the years that are directed at the cab drivers to take more money out of their pocket. If the cab industry would move more in the direction of the opponents model of having one driver per car that is a taxi (single operator, not sharing with other drivers), cut out the greedy cab companies, have a rating system for the cab drivers so the SFMTA could do their job more efficiently in reprimanding cab drivers who are doing a poor job. The industry would be more effective. They could sell those permits for 50K each and make a lot more money than charging 300k for a license that has no responsibility for the passenger or gates and gas drivers, and only benefits the medallion owner, cab companies, and city of San Francisco.

Face it City officials, cab companies and medallion owners are not responsible people. They were able to get the city of San Francisco to agree not to replace air bags in taxis when in a prior accident, and not even have to insure the driver behind the wheel anymore. Just to carry liability insurance. Tim I appreciate your stance but these other companies (Sidecar, Lyft, and Uber and anyone else who might enter the market) are better suited driving and carrying passengers around the city than a San Francisco Taxi Cab! The cab industry is obvious about not caring about the passengers or the cab drivers.

Posted by Dean Clark on Apr. 12, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

I'm tired of gettin in a cab a seeing the familiar "Cash Only" sign. This is a problem of epic proportions that's hardly been addressed by The City. Nine out of ten times I get in a cab, their credit card machines are covered up or the driver says their "service is down" This is a total scam and I'm tired of the constant arguments. By law They have to have the good old manual, carbon copy system as a back up anyway. Even the new agreement where The City required the installation of the machines in the rear has failed. They just cover it up. Imagine that. Instead I'm told they can take me to an ATM. Why am I gonna waste my time and pay a $3 ATM service fee because the cabbie lose out on cc's. Its sucks for them, but that's not my problem. There's plenty of hard working cabbies out there, but there's plenty of asshole cabbies too. They've ruined it for the good ones. Quit scammin us or don't complain when nobody wants to take a cab. I have no sympathy when its become a constant pain every time I need a ride. I'm happy to take my business elsewhere.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 11:27 pm

My local store only allows credit cards over a certain limit, and my local cafe is strictly cash only.

Posted by anon on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 6:03 am

Unlike cab's, the law doesn't require your local store or restaurant to accept credit cards. And I have yet to read an article about stores/ cafes complaining about people shopping/ eating elsewhere because of a cc fee. Apples and oranges.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 8:16 am

with a "minimum purchase" to use a credit card. Or a different price for cash or credit. Illegal? Maybe. But so what - in practice you either use cash or shop elsewhere in that situation.

As a vendor, I accept I may lose some customers, but I do not have to pay CC fees to the banksters nor fart about with authorizations for small amounts.

Non issue.

Posted by anon on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 8:43 am

Exactly my point, people are going elsewhere for rides. Thanks for backing me up.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

and are popular?

Thanks for backing me up and proving that there is demand, that the regular cabs are not satisfying it, and that therefore we need this competition.

QED - I rest my case.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

Good talk

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

The good talk followed from that.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

Yes, you're a genius. You have managed to talk yourself into agreeing with my original post when I said "I'm happy to take my money elsewhere." Strong work.

-Defeated

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

I aim to never expend more effort than I need to to win an argument, as evidenced here.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 7:20 am

That's your idea of a problem of 'epic proportions'?! You must be one pampered cat.

Posted by pete moss on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 9:15 am

I don't think that I've even taken a cab nine out of ten times since I've lived here.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 9:27 am

take your life in your hands on a bike. Or of course just not go anywhere.

But cabs are important to a large number of people. And since they are likely to be people with more money than spare time, they are the more economically active people,who form the majority of our tax base.

Cabs are a vital component of our transit infrastructure, and we need to see more competition and less bureaucracy.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 9:42 am

If cabs are hard to come by, then cabs can't be important to a large number of people as measured by percentage of the population.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 10:25 am
Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 10:50 am

And useless. What are you defending here? The fact that cab service in SF sucks so services like Uber and Lyft have sprung up to address the problem?

Or are you just being, as usual, oppositional?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

no demand.

Is there any wonder he spent his life on the sidelines, pissing into the wind, having so little impact for so much huffing and puffing?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

If there are few cabs, there might be demand for more of them, but given their scarcity, they are as much an "vital component" of our transit system as limousines are, which is not much of one.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

God knows if they depended on MUNI to get them to their medical appointments on time they'd be dead.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

I'm not saying that disabled people don't depend on cabs. But something in short supply in a system can't possibly make up a major component of a system.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

artifically restricted.

How dense can you be?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

So you admit that it is a small, not large component of our transportation network. Thanks for admitting that you lost and that you are a loser. it is always nice to clear the air on such matters.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

than it would be but for city mismanagement and interference.

If buses were highly restricted, then they would be a small component of our transit by your weird reckoning.

And then of course private unlicensed buses would grow in importance, as with the internet cabs now.

So yes, you're still wrong

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 7:17 am

Transit likewise is artificially restricted by corruption and the aversion to investment that accompanies it. Private autos are also restricted due to roadway capacity and the high price of operating cars. Bicycling is restricted due to lack of safe facilities, wind, hills and the price of bikes. What's so special about taxis? Nothing, they're just a private profit point.

Welcome to a world of scarcity, would you like a Wash-N-Dri?

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 7:35 am

There is just a shortage of funds, mostly because transit makes a loss.

Cabs make a profit so typically we would see less transit and more cabs.

The market does a better job of allocating funds than some bureaucrat in a cheap suit.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 9:13 am

You must not talk to many cabbies if you think that taxis make a profit.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 9:33 am

It depends, like in any business.

The fact that new entrants are entering the field indicates the profit potential. The yellow cabbies will find it harder to succeed because of the over-regulation and all the fees.

But since you've already admitted never taking cabs, it is clear that you do not talk to cabbies.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 10:40 am

Repeating nonsense doesn't change it.

If it is hard to get a cab then demand exceeds supply. It's really that simple.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

Not arguing that, just that cabs are not a major component of the transportation network. You're confirming that because you say it is difficult to find a cab. If it were easy to find a cab, cabs might make up a higher component. But they are hard to find and cab's are minimal, demand has nothing to do with it.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

You're saying that the fact that there is a shortage of cabs means that cabs are not an important component.

Duh.

They would be if there were more of them. Hence the opportunity for all these new alternative cabs.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

What if you're in a bad neighborhood and you cannot find a cab in a reasonable time?

Or you miss your flight because you cannot get a cab?

Cabs are an important part of our transit system, and they should work. We need cabs like in NYC, where you only ever wait a minute or so.

And even in NYC, there is a vibrant market for town cars and private cabs.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 9:38 am

What is the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission?
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), created in 1971, is the agency responsible for licensing and regulating New York City's medallion (yellow) taxicabs, for-hire vehicles (community-based liveries and black cars), commuter vans, paratransit vehicles (ambulettes) and certain luxury limousines. The Commission's Board consists of nine members, eight of whom are unsalaried Commissioners. The salaried Chair/Commissioner presides over regularly scheduled public Commission meetings, and is the head of the agency, which maintains a staff of approximately 400 TLC employees assigned to various divisions and bureaus. The Hon. David Yassky was nominated by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as his designee to the Chair of the TLC in March 2010 and was unanimously confirmed for a seven-year term by the New York City Council on March 24, 2010.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/rules/rules.shtml

Posted by marcos on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

However:

1) It is far more, meaning that cabs are easy to find, unlike SF. And

2) There are many car-based alternatives to medallion cabs, e.g. radio cabs (and now internet cabs of course), car services, limo's, jitney's etc.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

All regulated by the TLC SFB.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 4:38 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

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Posted by Demaemiainvuthj on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

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Posted by Demaemiainvuthj on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

I think that many people have complaints about cabs, and that the "faux cabs" may push cab companies in a more "customer service" oriented direction, but I also agree that there should be a level playing field. "Let the buyer beware" doesn't always work--when most people sign up for a type Lyft ride, I suspect they believe they are getting something like a cab. Lyft drivers should have to have their cars inspected every so often, and driver contact information should be readily available to an outside arbitrator in the case of problems.

These businesses attempt to present themselves as "friends to friends," but I agree with your statement: "But that's not what Lyft and Uber etc. are doing. They're private businesses, set up with venture capital backers, with the aim of making a profit by ferrying passengers around cities. That's the definition of a taxicab business. If these were just casual shared rides, there would be no business model and they wouldn't have investors."

Posted by Guest on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

"Casual" in that context simply means an absence of formality and a degree of friendliness and trust.

If via AirBnB you are willing to stay in a stranger's house, how is getting into a stranger's car much different?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

The writer says, quoting him here: "I've never had a bad experience with an SF cab driver in 30 years of living here and taking cabs..."

That means everything he says is worthless. It defies credulity. He has never had a cabbie with horrible b.o.? He has never had a cabbie who ranted in an insane way about politics/the blacks/the gays/women/liberals/ etc etc? He has never had a cabbie who did nothing but ramble or shout into his cell phone the whole entire ride? He's never had a cabbie who didn't know which way he was going, or took the long route to milk a fare? I could go on.

He certainly isn't a woman. I've never met a woman who didn't -- at least once in her life -- stop a cab ride early because she felt threatened by the cabbie. Or get out of the cab and think, wow, I could have been hurt.

As for the Lyft thing, it's supposed to be a social network kind of thing, so people meet one another and interact. That's totally different from a cab. Whether or not the Lyft thing is disingenuous (i.e., it's really just a cab) is another issue. I just have to say, in the dozen or so rides I've had with Lyft drivers, I found them all to be super clean cut, normal, and nice. Those traits in a cab driver (much less a clean smelling car) are extremely rare. In fact, the last Archie Bunker type cab driver I experienced was 30 years ago in NYC. Those middle class Irish charmers just don't drive cabs anymore. We all know who drives cabs these days, and 90% of the time, it's not a nice guy.

Posted by Robin on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

Is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

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