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SFMTA Taxi Services
Taxi Advisory Council
Monday, March 26, 2012
2nd Floor Atrium Conference Room
One South Van Ness Avenue
PRESENT: : Ruach Graffis; Dan Hinds; Tara Housman; Richard Hybels; David Khan; Barry Korengold; Timothy Lapp; John Lazar; Tone Lee; Carl Macmurdo ;William Minikel; William Mounsey; Athan Rebelos; Chris Sweis; John Han
STAFF IN ATTENDANCE: Jarvis Murray, Michael Harris, Eric Richholt, Taxi Services
1. Call to order: Chris Sweis called the meeting to order at 1:04 p.m.
2. Roll Call – The Roll Call showed a quorum was present.
3. Announcement of prohibition of sound producing devices during the meeting.
4. Approval of Minutes: March 12, 2012
Mr. Korengold said that the meeting minutes were excellent with the exception of some missed names; would like to commend the person who made the minutes. Mr. Mounsey motioned to approve seconded by Ms. Housman. Minutes are approved.
5. Public Comment
No public comment.
Public comment closed.
6. General Discussion regarding Taxi Industry (Discussion Only)
David Khan said that a lot of people in the Taxi Industry are taking money under the table to get preference – to drive on the weekend or to drive on a regular shift or get a long-term lease. Excessive money transactions takes place and suggested that SFMTA has to look into it and take care of these issues. Other drivers are suffering due to this. Asked the council if they have any idea on what’s going on.
Mr. Mounsey expressed lack of business in the industry specially the months of March and April. Outside cabs that are coming to the city are creating competition. Limos apparently are staging in e.g. Bank of America & Omni Hotel that are taking away the business for taxis.
Mr. Han expressed his concern over Technological Advancements such as Ford’s driverless cars that would affect young medallion holders like him since he has more years as a driver. Due to this advancement, there’s a possibility that the demand for human taxi drivers will change. He also has concerns on the resale value of his medallion if the demand for this will eventually weaken.
Mr. Lazar said that SFMTA should look into situations where a senior medallion holder leases his car without disclosing that the medallion is to be sold; puts the lessee in a bad financial position when they invested on a new car.
Mr. Lee said he’s supporting and discussed Mr. Kahn and Mr. Mounsey’s statements about limo concerns and under the table transactions. He said that corruption is happening at the cab companies; to see a manager, you have to put up $200 before he sees you with no guarantee of a job. Confidence on getting cabs has minimized and business is slow. Medallion prices are also going up and concerned that its’ unaffordable to drivers.
Ms. Graffis comments on Mr. Han’s point about the driverless cabs are too far out in our immediate future. She is concerned about technology overrides, e.g. UBER that has taken advantage of the transportation market and the medallion sales business has not taken this into account. Sees more limos on the streets that don’t carry TCP nos. Cab industry is changing dramatically.
Mr. Hybels comments on Mr. Lazars statement on how medallion sales transition affects the industry specially in getting premium shifts.
Mr. Korengold comments the new rave on UBER and also another competition called Side Car; feels that the cab business is going away. Discussed State senate transportation committee’s mandate on constant audio recording; with this, he feels that this is a negative factor and passengers would rather consider other options and more likely go with UBER and Side Car and can also see cab drivers disliking this recording and would possibly explore other options if so much regulation is tied to the cab industry.
Mr. Lazar added on to Ms. Graffis’ to request MTA to communicate with PUC about putting some fees on companies like UBER and impose taxes.
Ms. Graffis said that this stays in the local levels.
Mr. Sweis said regulation in general in transportation needs to be tightened up locally.
Mr. Arryan explores SFMTA & TAXI resources and how they address problems. States that cab drives more hours and earns less money. He said that it was voted on that money should not go from taxi industry to SFMTA. He commented on UBER on how this is a competition for the Taxi Industry and SFMTA does not really have control over UBER.
Mr. Malik commented on the camera issue and feels that this is right. He said that hotel doormen recommends Airporter vehicles or other means of transportation which results in loss of business for taxicabs; he cannot compete with these vehicles since they can take in more passengers. It sometimes forces him to take more passengers but is concerned about the risks. Insist that cab should not take in more than 4 passengers.
Mr. Healy said he was with Open Taxi Access and discussed UBER and other applications related. He said nobody likes using it due to cost but people are using them since they are reliable and that’s the main reason why taxis are losing business. He said that it would help to have a centralized dispatching system where everything is electronically connected would help the industry.
Mr. Rathbone comment on the camera legislation in Sacramento does not regulate the cabs; this is just for the use of local authority. Discussed the issue that cost to get a shift is $20,000; he said this issue should be raised with the authorities.
Mr. Vitcha comments on UBER cab. Was suggesting that there should be a discussion on this service and the council should have this discussion with the MTA board. Maybe a town hall meeting and feels that there should be more done about it to include the parties, companies, drivers, and unions, everybody say something and do something.
Mr. Mould noticed that the general public supports taxi drivers and the key to it is reliability.
Public comment closed.
7. Report of the Council Liaison (Discussion only)
a. Staff Update - Jarvis Murray updated filling in for Hayashi.
No regulatory reform update for a month.
He would like to solicit comments on having a taxi zone at the 4 Seasons in Market St. He has asked to email to email@example.com.
Eric Richholt discussed the attachment. Stats provided.
Recap: The bandit cabs that are floating around are the same ones.
Submit questions to Eric Richholt.
Presentation –Nightlife Pedicabs
By: Andrew Watters
Hand-out distributed. Question and answer with comments.
b. Regulatory Reform Update
c. Taxi Medallion Sales Pilot Program Update
Michael Harris updated
Mr. Malik states that he has no objection on the pedicabs but sees that this may create more traffic and also competition for the night time taxicabs; may just encourage people to just start walking instead of taking transportation due to this. He hopes that SFMTA grants him to have his own business due to costly gate fees.
Mr. Healy disturbed limos are not reprimanded when parked in the white zone; would need a contact no. to report this. He thinks that the pedicabs should not be allowed to pick-up residential calls and should focus on Fisherman’s Wharf area; should just be an entertainment ride and not a competition for taxis.
Charles Rathbone – said that SFMTA should get the pedicabs in their jurisdiction and not SFPD; he sees the same issue as UBER. He is concerned though that these pedicabs take the most profitable trips which are the short trips. He comments on the liability issue if a collision happened between a taxi and a pedicab that it would favor the biker.
Public comment closed.
8. TAC discussion of the final presentation for the board [discussion and possible action ]
Chris Sweis presents the revised TAC Medallion Sales Pilot Program.
He explained the report.
Council took 5 minutes break to review the material on Medallion Sales Pilot Program Report.
Mr. Malik said he thinks we should go step by step before recommendation. In his opinion, we should clean up the mess and go from there. He respectfully objects.
Mr. Charles Rathbone comments on Page 8 of the report that recommendation is not distinguished.
Approve report moved by Mr. Hinds and 2nd by Mr. Lapp.
The council voted on revised TAC Medallion Sales Pilot Program
Ayes: Ruach Graffis; Dan Hinds; Tara Housman; Richard Hybels; David Khan; Barry Korengold; Timothy Lapp; John Lazar; Tone Lee; Carl Macmurdo; Athan Rebelos; Chris Sweis; John Han
Nayes: William Mounsey
13 in favor -1opposed
Chris recognized everyone who was involved in this meeting.
9. Council Member request for information. (Discussion only)
Ms. Graffis asked about the investigation of the cab companies selling job letters.
Mr. Murray clarified – 1 cab company was taking to a hearing regarding job letter issue and they were cited $400 and promptly paid the fee.
No public comment.
10. Schedule upcoming calendar items (Discussion and Action)
Mr. Sweis said that voting for chair should be one of the items.
Mr. Lazar commended Mr. Sweis for his efforts and patience.
Mr. Hinds wants to clarify if the next agenda would have an election and if so, asked on how this process goes.
Mr. Sweis said there are no current agenda items to vote on. He said to maybe devote the next meeting to vote on the chair and the vice chair; he can also summarize suggestions and topics to discuss and to formalize the agenda the next two meetings.
Mr. Khan suggested that we have a centralized means of communication to relay information. Call service? Maybe we can put this on the agenda and discuss about it.
Mr. Korengold maybe make that discussion to include an open taxi access; maybe some kind of an application.
Ms. Housman asked if this council is going to continue. Asked if council can get a pass through Muni; maybe parking privilege in the garage.
Mr. Sweis explained that he has no direction on this issue; nothing has been communicated to him through staff. Mr. Sweis responded that he’ll try to fight for the parking privilege issue. He suggests that he would like to get confirmation before we proceed with this issue.
Mr. Lee suggests to appropriate money from the Taxi driver fund to Taxi driver life insurance that’s has affordable rate. Maybe put in the agenda on how to utilize the Taxi driver fund.
Mr. Hinds said that it’s odd to have an election if there’s no known respondent. He suggests that this gets resolved before election.
Mr. Sweis said that we should hold-off on meetings until something is definite. Also, mentioned Ms. Hayashi being away that more time may be required.
Mr. Korengold said that we should wait on electing a new chair person. He said that maybe council should meet once a month. He feels that it’s useful for everybody to get together for driver and company owners and managers to sit down and speak to everybody. He feels that there should be a body for the cab industry to discuss issues. Maybe just do a sunset.
Mr. Sweis said that he doesn’t think any of the meetings are warranted. He asked council and public to vote by raising hand whether or not this council should continue and majority would like this continued.
Ms. Graffis suggested that the council be moved from advisory to a weighted vote.
Mr. Macmurdo asked about the TAC committee’s future.
Mr. Sweis that the board has put off discussing the future of the TAC and clarified that since Ms. Hayashi is out of commission until the end of April, so the earliest time to put this on the agenda and present this to the board of directors will be around May or beyond that.
Mr. Lapp said he sees some value in continuing this council monthly. He said that once a month meeting is more than sufficient.
Mr. Murray explained that there may be a special board meeting that will just contain Taxi items; he anticipates this to happen late May and it may require 2 meetings to deal with a lot of issues.
Mr. Rebelos said the having a Town Hall is much quicker and better. He said that the council is not a lawmaking body so he hasn’t seen any results on the topics that were discussed. As long as there’s a means of communication between the MTA and industry is enough.
Mr. Han agrees with Town Hall meeting as well.
Mr. Lee said that meeting a couple of times a month okay; he said that this shows that the council is doing something for the drivers.
Mr. Hinds agrees with Mr. Rebelos regards the Town Hall meetings being productive; these meetings can be frustrating and in many ways can be unproductive. He said that this body has a constructive voice even though it’s flawed in many ways, he would like to see it continue rather than discontinue.
Mr. Khan said that agrees with Mr. Hinds. He feels that they should still meet, once a month whether it’s formal or informal to discuss issues.
Mr. Sweis said that we would have to postpone the next meeting until we’ve figured out what the future of the TAC council.
Mr. Korengold said a good topic would be the future of the TAC and Town Hall Meetings. Maybe have the TAC meet once a month instead of twice and have a day and night Town Hall meet every month.
Mr. Sweis said to discuss the continuation of the TAC on the April 23rd. April 9th is cancelled. Subject for the next meeting is the future of the Taxi Advisory Council. No. 8 for the 23rd.
Mr. Vidka hopes that this body continues and supports the continuation of the TAC council.
Mr. Watson mentions the Neptune Society as an organization that may be useful to the industry.
Mr. Moles said he feels that these meetings are important that it should continue; maybe mix the meeting with town hall meeting. He said that he fears that the taxi industry deteriorates to a point that money goes to SFMTA.
Mr. Malik recognized Mr. Sweis’ efforts. Thinks we should still meet once a month. Also, council should be elected by the cab drivers of SF since they’re making decisions for their future.
Mr. Healy thinks the TAC should be disbanded. He said that Town Hall is more effective and prefers this over TAC meeting. He said the 14:0 vote on having MTA give the taxi industry back money that was taken was simply naive; a lawsuit is needed to make this possible.
Public comment closed.
Agenda approved for next meeting.
ADJOURNMENT: The meeting was adjourned by standing vote at 3:35 pm.
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