Mr. Mayor, can you steal my ideas please…

Sometime last year I wrote a letter to OUR KICKASS MAYOR about what I thought should be done to fix the illegal limo and bandit cab problem and possible solutions to alleviate the taxi shortage we have all experienced on an abnormally busy night.

When I wrote the last piece it was more of an angry rant than a coherent plan.  Now I still don’t have final plan per-se but the plan I have come up with has some solid ideas that the Mayor’s Office, Board of Supervisors, MTA,SFPD Taxi Detail and Heather Fong all need to hear.

Bandit Cabs

Bandit cab spotted at 16th and valencia crusing for fares
Bandit cab spotted at 16th and valencia crusing for fares

  1. These guys are dangerous, they have chased me, threatened to shoot me, etc.   All for telling them they should leave town because I am reporting them to the police.
  2. Some of these guys are just brazen fools like “Tux Pizza” in his 80s era black Mercedes with a pizza light on top, spotted picking up at Geary and Jones (wake up cops)
  3. I propose the following:

i.      Have the police department / taxi detail work in tandem with carefully selected cab drivers to covertly identify the problem drivers and vehicles.

ii.      Special Taxi Detail Task force riding in plain clothes observing problem areas and vehicles guided by an actual cab

driver.

iii.      “HOW TO SPOT A BANDIT CAB” taught by a cabdriver and the taxi detail to specially selected officers from the stations in the problem areas.  (This class would teach the officers how to tell if a bandit cab is operating illegally by looking at key behaviors of  non San Francisco cabs.)

iv.      Have the police traffic stop ALL non San Francisco taxicabs SPOTTED WHILE ON PATROL for a passenger/meter/waybill/medallion, etc.  Check.

v.      Mandatory 30 day impound, with the standard accruing daily fees, $10k Mandatory  fine (not for protest), and third time offenses the vehicle is confiscated and  recycled/salvaged,  for ALL bandit cabs caught operating in San Francisco.

vi.      ALL FINES/FEES EARNED EARMARKED FOR MTA AND POLICE OPERATIONS

Illegal Limos and Towncars

  1. These are the guys who failed a being legitimate cab drivers, a lot of them have been cab drivers at one time.  SO THEY KNOW THE RULES.
  2. Some of these guys were never cab drivers because they have felony records for things like sexual assault, robbery and more, and probably wouldn’t be able to get an A-Card so they resort to paying a shady limo company a gate fee and hustling on the streets like a cab.
  3. The limo/towncar drivers have side deals set up with doormen at the following hotels: Hyatt Regency, The W, The New Inter Continental, the Clift and more.  Not only is this illegal it reduces demand for taxis to the airport giving taxis less motivation to serve the hotels in question.
  4. I am constantly hearing stories about just how bad these guys are and then I witness it yet again the other night when I was in front of Harlot.  I told a group of six that I could only take 4 (how many seatbelts I had) and the limo drivers pounced on the poor girls en-masse like vultures, all trying to haggle, the girls were smart and refused but when I confronted the limo drivers they threatened me and said they had every right to be there.  This needs to stop.
  5. The Solution:

i.      Have the police department / taxi detail work in tandem with carefully selected cab drivers to covertly identify the problem drivers and vehicles.

ii.      Special Taxi Detail Task force riding in plain clothes observing problem areas and vehicles guided by an actual cab driver.

iii.      “HOW TO SPOT AN ILLEGAL LIMO” taught by a cabdriver and the taxi detail to              specially selected officers from the stations in the problem areas.  (This class would teach the officers how to tell if a towncar is operating illegally by looking at key behaviors of the drivers and how that indicates intention.)

iv.      Require ALL PUC Issued TCP licenses to provide plate numbers and CDL#s of the         drivers, of all vehicles operating within the city limits (311 can handle this).  NO EXCEPTIONS. If the driver is pulled over and checked if either the vehicle or driver is  not listed for the date in question… (see section vii. below)

v.      Require any TCP operator with non-stretch vehicles to paint large (3in high) TCP  numbers on both bumpers in contrasting color, large phone number for reservations on rear window, and CAR SERVICE RESERVATION ONLY in 2in high  lettering on the exterior of rear doors of vehicle below the window.

vi.      Require ALL TCP operators with non-stretch vehicles to pay a 6 month licensing fee  based on number of vehicles and all non-stretch vehicles must have a dated seal/sticker in the  front widow showing that said license is paid and valid.

vii.      Mandatory 30 day impound, with the standard accruing daily fees, $10k Mandatory   fine (not for protest), and third time offenses the vehicle is confiscated and sold,  for  all limos caught operating illegally in San Francisco.

viii.      Misdemeanor/infraction ticket with a fine of $150 for any passenger caught illegally  hiring a limo/towncar on the street (protest of this violation allowed, and if protested dismissed, the purpose here is to deter people from even thinking about illegally hiring a towncar).

ix.      ALL FINES/FEES EARNED EARMARKED FOR MTA AND POLICE OPERATIONS

Taxi Shortage

  1. Now I am going to stay out of the medallion issue here for now because I think we are on a good track to figuring out a workable long term solution.
  2. AIRPORT LOT…  Just the center lot please… and NO LOT during “peak times” in the city
  3. PEAK TIME CABS:   If the bandit cab and limo problem is brought under control as rapidly as I think it can using the plan outlined above, this will definitely contribute to the peak time shortage and an immediate solution is to notify cab companies when an “excessive peak time” event is foreseen and allow cab companies to put out spare cabs (already a legit, inspected, insured cab) for the specified time frame to allow for the “excessive peak” needs of the city.  (e.g.: Halloween, New Years, St Patrick’s Day, Oracle Convention)

i.       I am sure you will find cab drivers and cab companies very amenable to this (more                                                                            money for everyone)

In conclusion: there is no end all solution to the taxi issues in SF, the city just is not geographically laid out in such a way that there can ever be a perfect solution to always getting a cab the minute you want one.  Even in NY you sometimes have to flag for 20 min.  Hopefully the ideas I have outlined here can be appropriated as their own by someone in the city to make the changes we need to help make San Francisco safer and easier to get around.

Trevor Johnson
SF Taxi Driver 63308

Advertisements

One thought on “Mr. Mayor, can you steal my ideas please…

  1. Oh yeah the opinions expressed here are mine alone and NOT the opinions of any cab company. I am speak here as my own rep.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s