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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

SFMTA's Taxi Reform Plan Incites Shouting Match Among Cabbies

Posted By on Tue, Jun 7, 2011 at 7:45 AM

click to enlarge You don't want to upset taxi drivers
  • You don't want to upset taxi drivers

Impassioned cabbies gathered at a town hall meeting yesterday afternoon to express their skepticism about the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's ideas for reforming the city's taxi industry.

But that skepticism quickly turned into heated shouting after the transit agency unveiled its plans for an electronic waybill system, which would essentially be used to track each driver and provide details of the trips.

And when the meeting got too tense, other attendees broke up the shouting and reminded the drivers to "behave

like gentlemen."


The SFMTA's proposal is to hire more drivers and use an electronic waybill system, which would help the agency determine pertinent information, such as how long taxis are empty.

But the idea made drivers feel

worried that their personal information could be

hacked.

Many cabbies said they think San Francisco's taxi service could be easily improved without a waybill. If the SFMTA created a centralized dispatch system and cracked down on fraudulent, unlicensed drivers, the system would run more efficiently, they say.

Cabbies pointed out that there are a few bad seeds ruining it for the group. Yet SFMTA says cracking down on unlicensed drivers isn't as easy as it seems. "It's very difficult to control," SFMTA taxi director Christiane Hayashi says.


The SFMTA's other proposal -- to hire 25 operators and give 25 medallions to those on a waiting list for years -- was met with less anger, as the city has not sold a medallion since 2009. There are currently 1,500 medallion holders who can lease their cars to other drivers. 

Another Taxi Town Hall meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, at 1 South Van Ness Ave. from 1 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m.

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Taylor Friedman

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