taxi.jpgHundreds of taxi cab drivers circled, honked and protested in front of San Francisco City Hall this afternoon and threatened to strike if the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency failed to discuss driver fees, costs and work benefits.

Representing many of the city’s cab companies, including Luxor, Yellow Cab Cooperative and Green, the drivers were protesting a 5 percent credit card processing fee, implementation of electronic waybills and lack of SFMTA benefits, especially since the Taxi Commission merged with the SFMTA in March 2009.

Credit card processing fees and electronic waybills meant to track all transactions began on April 1, according to SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.

“(The) SFMTA made the decision to provide credit card access to our customers. We remain committed to that,” he said.

As for the electronic waybills, Rose said they help “get a better sense of what services we need to add and (if) they help with taxi cab deployment.”

At today’s SFMTA board meeting, cab drivers–many with 20 or more years experience–voiced grievances, ideas and compromises they believed the SFMTA should consider.

Arrow Cab Company driver Rick Keshishian said that if the SFMTA can impose fees and regulations, drivers should be considered SFMTA employees and should receive the same benefits as San Francisco Municipal Railway drivers.

“We are supposed to be self-employed,” Keshishian said. “We are treated like we are part of the herd.”

Brad Newcomb has been with Green Cab for 25 years. At this afternoon’s meeting he told the board, “Ever since (the) SFMTA took over, it has been a disaster. I think it’s time for a strike.” (Thanks, CVA, correction made below 3 PM 5/4)

Brad Newsham has been a San Francisco cab driver for 25 years, the past four with Green Cab. At the meeting, he told the board, “Ever since (the) SFMTA took over, it has been a disaster.”

SFMTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford reminded those in attendance, which included people in an overflow room, that no action would be taken on any taxi driver issues at today’s meeting.

Two taxi town hall meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, May 11 and Monday, May 16. Taxi concerns are on the agenda for the regularly scheduled Tuesday, May 17 board meeting. At today’s meeting, Rose said possible changes to taxi cab rates would be discussed.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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  • ColeValleyAlley

    Thanks for reporting on this, I was outside City Hall yesterday when all the cabbies were circling the block and honking like crazy. Was wondering what was goin’ on.

    Point of clarification:

    “Brad Newcomb has been with Green Cab for 25 years.”

    Green Cab launched on May 1st, 2007, so it’d be rather difficult for Mr. Newcomb to have been with them for 25 years, unless he was part of the idea for the years before they launched.

  • Eve Batey

    Thanks! I passed your remark on to a Bay City News editor so he can look into this.

  • Greg Dewar

    Cab drivers threatening to strike? They already don’t show up and refuse to take people to the west side and discriminate against the GLBTQ community, so I doubt anyone would notice.

    Plus a strike would cost them money, not us. So frak ’em!

  • Dean Clark

    There were hundreds of taxi drivers showing up at the city hall today for a protest in room 400 over the 5% credit card fees being assessed when a driver takes a credit card as payment for a ride. Drivers are also concerned over electronic waybill machines being placed in their taxis. The electronic waybill machines have not been checked for radiation levels and could cause health issues for drivers if there is a long time exposure to this new equipment. Drivers are requesting an environmental study be done to ensure these machines are safe and would not have health risks for the driver.

    In addition Dean Clark was there to speak about the importance of uninsured motorist coverage for drivers as a safety net if involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist. As many of you know Dean Clark was in an accident last year suffering injuries that are long lasting and permanent. The National Cab company who Dean Clark works for did not have uninsured motorist coverage, nor carried insurance for the driver at the time of the accident.

    The SFMTA who has taken over the regulatory body of the taxi industry has been only focused on getting money and draining the pockets of San Francisco Taxi Drivers. The SFMTA should own up to the responsibility of ensuring public safety comes first to include the taxi driver and mandate that all cab companies insure their taxi drivers with full coverage insurance and to include uninsured motorist coverage insurance for every single taxi driver in San Francisco.

  • Patrick

    Since all my advocacy for employee ownership in the taxi industry has come to naught, perhaps i should just keep silent.

  • Dean Clark

    San Francisco Taxi Cab Protest May 17th, City Hall
    Tuesday, May 17 · 12:00pm – 3:00pm
    San Francisco City Hall
    Polk Street Side
    San Francisco, California

    Cabbies Helping Cabbies an organization headed by Tariq and Syan are to hold a demonstration on May 17th starting at 12 Noon.

  • Cab drivers never did strike did they, cowards!