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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Taxi Drivers Stage Noisy Protest Outside Uber HQ

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 3:56 PM

click to enlarge RACHEL SWAN
  • Rachel Swan
The dozens of taxi drivers who flocked to Uber's mid-Market headquarters today had the usual litany of complaints about how app-based car-hire services are eviscerating the cab industry, and the usual slogans about unfair competition and evil tech companies. One sign framed the battle in Biblical terms: "What would Jesus do?" it asked. Answer: "Hail a taxi."

But today's protest had a sense of palpable desperation that's gradually overtaken the cab industry — or what's left of it — since drivers began protesting their tech counterparts last year. Winter is coming, and it's traditionally a slow season for cabs, as the Examiner reported. And while Uber may have raised safety concerns after a widely publicized hammer assault in September, the company doesn't appear to be going anywhere.

So taxi drivers are fighting back with the best weapon they have: noisy, irritating, uninhibitedly honking horns. A line of cabs from various San Francisco companies circled the block of outside 1455 Market St. today, where Uber cohabitates with social media startup Square. They blared their horns for an uninterrupted hour-and-a-half during lunch hour, allowing the protest to resonate for at least two blocks in every direction.

click to enlarge Phil Sterlin, a Luxor driver with 30 years in the business. - RACHEL SWAN
  • rachel swan
  • Phil Sterlin, a Luxor driver with 30 years in the business.

"We've been planning this for about a week or two," veteran driver Barry Korengold said, adding that he's losing about 50 percent business per shift, owing to the increased competition. 

A biker who got caught in the fray decided to join in, as did a few slack-jawed people passing by. Those who didn't want to chant were content to live tweet the scene and snap photos.

But it's not clear whether the message actually reached its intended target. Uber is well-insulated inside its palatial 130,434 square feet of office space. No word from its spokespeople on whether they even heard the melee.

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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.

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