Paratransit Coordinating Council (PCC) > May 18, 2011, minutes
PCC Executive Committee Members Present: Cheryl Damico, PCC Chair; Joseph Flanagan, PCC Vice Chair; Marty Smith, PCC Secretary; Ameur Kallel; Fred Lein; Jacy Cohen; Byron Yan; Jane Redmond; Pam Martinez; Ruach Graffis; Russell Green; Scott Blum; Ursula McGuire; Melecio Torres; Stu Smith; Laurie Graham; Patrick McCollum; Roland Wong; Ruth Lawner; Jeanne Lynch; Claudia Grubler; John Lazar; Kaye Griffin; Harvey Katz
PCC Members and Guests: Kevin Hayes; Troy Barnes; Annie M. Young; Athan Rebelos
PCC Executive Committee Member Excused: Gilda Chico; Olivia Santiago
SF Paratransit staff: Marc Soto; Paul Okunewitch; John Sanderson; Aaron Bonfilio
SFMTA: Kate Toran; Annette Williams
Cheryl Damico, PC&O Chair, called the meeting to order at 10:40 a.m.
Read and Approve Agenda
Marty Smith, PCC Secretary, read the agenda. The agenda was amended to delete item 5, “5310 Update” and replace it with “Taxi Update.” The agenda motioned/seconded/passed as amended.
Approve Minutes of March 30 meeting
The minutes were motioned/seconded/passed as presented.
Comments from the Chair
Cheryl Damico announced the MV-I vehicle was out front for PCC members to test out. This vehicle is manufactured to be wheelchair accessible, and it has been crash tested and approved for production.
Annette Williams reported that the SFMTA has been holding a series of taxi town hall meetings to discuss proposed taxi meter rate increases. Cheryl Damico attended one of the town hall meetings to represent the PCC. The SFMTA Board of Directors met yesterday (5/17) and heard the taxi meter rate increase proposal. SFMTA Taxi Services staff recommended that the drop rate increase from $3.10 to $3.50 and the mileage rate increase from $.45 per 1/5 mile to $.55 per 1/5 mile. It is estimated that these increases could increase the costs to the SFMTA for the paratransit taxi program approximately $1M - $1.5M. This potential increase would not have a significantly negative impact overall on the paratransit budget because there have been savings due to the implementation of the paratransit debit card.
There is also a proposal to charge taxi customers a surcharge for requesting a vehicle through the dispatch service, and if implemented, that would have a significant impact on the paratransit budget, because most paratransit rides are dispatched, not flagged. The taxi meter rate proposal is scheduled to be discussed further at the SFMTA Board meeting on June 21st. Also under discussion is the possibility of hiring a consultant to study the meter rate structure in San Francisco.
SFMTA Director Bruce Oka added that the taxi drivers haven’t had a meter rate increase since 2003, although he understands that an increase would impact paratransit riders and the overall paratransit budget. Bruce stated that the SFMTA needs to look at how the proposed meter rate increases will impact taxi customers. The average taxi trip is 4.6 to 6.25 miles. Bruce indicated that PCC members can call him if they have any questions or concerns about this proposal. He emphasized that the SFMTA Board wants to hear the voice of the PCC, and he urged members to attend the SFMTA Board meetings.
Roland Wong stated that the $35 per trip maximum amount for paratransit taxi trips would need to be increased if the meter rate increased. Laurie Graham stated that a drop rate increase will make shorter rides more appealing for drivers and if the drop rate doesn’t increase, she thinks more drivers will go out to the airport.
PC&O Group Van Report
Jacy Cohen read the following report:
PC&O SF Taxi/RampTaxi Report
Marty Smith read the following report:
After the report was presented, John Lazar encouraged riders to use Luxor’s new phone open Saturdays to allow wheelchair users to make ramp taxi reservations for the entire week, 415-401-1414.
Athan Rebolos stated that DeSoto has a new paratransit phone hotline, 415-970-1303.
Ruth Lawner stated that often when she calls Yellow, Luxor or DeSoto, the phone rings and rings but is not answered. Ruth added that she had an advance reservation with Yellow for a ramp taxi pick-up after a chemotherapy treatment, but she had to wait an hour before a ramp taxi driver showed up, and she was feeling sick after her treatment. She’s started trying the smaller cab companies but often the drivers don’t know how to use the paratransit debit card.
Athan responded that there needs to be more cabs on the street because the dispatch services get more orders than they have vehicles to service. DeSoto’s dedicated paratransit hotline is a priority line and seems to be working better, and a caller may not get a cab faster, but the call will be taken faster and therefore dispatched sooner. Cheryl Damico stated that she tried DeSoto’s dedicated paratransit phone line, and it was picked up quickly, but after that it was the same wait time. Athan stated that the radio staff was likely trying to coax a ramp driver to pick up the order. He stated that they’ve had a case where a ramp taxi driver was three blocks away from a pick-up request location and the driver refused to accept the call. Cab companies can’t force the ramp drivers to service ramp taxi requests. Athan added that he needs help from the SFMTA; he wants the SFMTA to enforce the program rules.
Kate Toran stated that the SFMTA is in the process of implementing ramp taxi incentives, which have been discussed for a number of years, to reward ramp taxi drivers for good service to wheelchair users. In addition to incentives, the SFMTA is also monitoring ramp taxi pick-ups and citing drivers for severe underperformance. A new enforcement and progressive discipline process has been implemented in the ramp taxi program. Kate added that with the implementation of both incentives and strict enforcement, ramp taxi service to wheelchair users should improve.
John Lazar stated that the taxi supply and demand is out of balance. Taxi companies can’t service the demand and John added that 500 more cabs are needed to service the demand. Pam Martinez agreed with Athan and John.
Stu Smith stated that the PCC has been proactive in the past on issues like this, and he made a motion that the PCC write a letter the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors and the SFMTA to request more taxis that should go to companies can show justification and demonstrate that they have more demand for service than supply of taxis. Marty Smith seconded the motion. Patrick McCollum stated that centralized dispatch would work to distribute the calls over the entire fleet.
Byron Yan stated that the letter should specify more ramp taxis. Athan responded that in his opinion there are enough ramp taxis but the problem is that many of the ramps are at companies that don’t service the community. Athan added that there is a need for more non-ramp medallions and the ramp medallions that are at companies that don’t provide service to the disabled community should move to the companies that do provide such service. Ruach Graffis stated that she thinks there should be centralized dispatch for the ramp taxis, and that new dispatching mechanisms, such as Cabulous, may be put in place very soon. John Lazar stated that Cabulous relies on handheld devices which are not allowed while driving according to California Code. John stated that there needs to be computerized dispatch and not voice dispatch.
Cheryl Damico closed discussion and the group voted 13 in favor to 3 opposing to approve the motion. There were no abstentions.
Paratransit Broker Report
Marc Soto provided the following report:
Bike Lane/Paratransit Issues Update
Kate Toran reported that there has been some progress made in the bike/paratransit planning effort. A bumper sticker for paratransit vans and taxis indicating that the vehicle is authorized to be in the bike lane while loading/unloading passengers has been designed and reviewed by staff and PCC members. A decal has also been designed and reviewed for the rear window of a taxi, cautioning passengers to look for cyclists when exiting the vehicle. (Kate passed out copies of both the bumper sticker and the decal). A reading notice has been issued to parking control officers instructing them not to cite paratransit vans and taxis actively loading/unloading in bike lanes. A memo to paratransit van providers and taxi companies is being drafted that will include instructions for affixing the bumper stickers and training materials for drivers on how to properly interface with the bike lanes, including the separated bike lanes on Market Street.
Kate added that she sent out information via email and handed out a flyer about public participation in the Better Market Street planning process.
Neal Patel from the San Francisco Bike Coalition stated that they are doing their part to train cyclists, and that they educate and train over 1,000 cyclists annually. The Bike Coalition is working toward a solution for safe use of the bike lanes.
Stu Smith stated that he had an encounter with three cyclists riding parallel and they yelled at him and kicked his car. He added that bikes should be licensed. Neal responded that the SFMTA has researched the bike licensing concept and issued a report.
Kate Toran announced that the Jewel McGinnis Appreciation Luncheon will be coming up in June and will likely be held in lieu of the next PCC Executive Committee meeting on June 22nd.
Kate also announced that Ramp Taxi Medallion applicant interviews will be held next Tuesday (5/24) at the SF Paratransit office at 10:30.
Jacy Cohen thanked Matt West from SFMTA for sending the elevator notices.
Roland Wong stated that BART has elevator alert notices that he has downloaded to his phone and he asked if Muni could do that as well. Annette responded that nextMuni is on-line and that MTA would look into the possibilities of notices. Ruach Graffis stated that it would be helpful to have elevator announcements as part of the morning traffic reports.
The next PCC meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 10,10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 711 Eddy Street
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