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SFMTA Taxi Services

Taxi Advisory Council


Monday, March 12, 2012

2nd Floor Atrium Conference Room

One South Van Ness Avenue

PRESENT: Tara Housman, Richard Hybels, Timothy Lapp, Tone Lee, John Han, Dan Hinds, Barry Korengold, Carl Macmurdo, William Mounsey, Athan Rebelos, Chris Sweis, Ruach Graffis

ABSENT: John Lazar, David Khan

STAFF IN ATTENDANCE: Christiane Hayashi Taxi Services

1. Call to order: Chris Sweis called the meeting to order at 1:06 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: February 13, 2012

Ms. Graffis motioned to approve seconded by Mr. Macmurdo

Minutes are approved

Public Comment

Mr. Malik comments

Mr. Sweis reminded him that this is public comment on the minutes.

Public comment closed

5. Public Comment

Mr. Aryan said that there is no stopping SFMTA from taking money from the Taxi Industry. He said that striking has not worked in the past. He said if you want action you need to put matters into your own hands. He said SFMTA has broken many laws that people don’t know about. He said there needs to be prosecution so they will stop. You lose if nothing gets done.

Mr. Malik said that all their resources need to go to the medallion waitlist.

Mr. Philip Gange said if there was a way to get a traffic signal changed. He doesn’t know who to talk to regarding this. He said this intersection is coming out of Pier 39.

Ms. Hayashi said she would pass this on to the City Traffic Engineer.

Mr. Ham said he used his partner’s paratransit card. He got into a confrontation with the driver who apparently was an illegal cab driver and injured him. He said the police would not do anything and he was told that he should be arrested. He wants to know what the SFMTA is going to do to protect riders. This is also a civil rights matter. He has all information regarding the taxi. He said that the police also have the information but they did not write a report.

Mr. Sweis said that Taxi staff is aware of it and are taking steps to deal with it. He said that Taxi Services has enforcement in place that takes care of the gypsy cabs. Mr. Sweis said this is not the venue where he will get answers. He did reassure him that Taxi Services is trying to crack down on these guys.

Mr. Newsham states he is devastated by TAC Council. Express disappointment with the TAC and Town Hall Meetings. Expressed his approval on the unanimous vote on last month’s meeting on regarding the revenue generated should be reinvested to taxi industry. Disapprove SFMTA’s plan that would finance Taxi Services’ expenses.

Mr. Watson states at Market St. there’s no left turn for cab driver from west to east.

Public comment closed.

6. General Discussion regarding Taxi Industry (Discussion Only)

Mr. Rebelos states drivers having problems on SFO’s Management Co. being verbally abusive towards drivers and not having any means of appeal.

Mr. Hinds states at least 500 - 1000 limousines are being pervasive. Limo drivers should be busted and police are not doing anything about it. Suggest that there should be new laws made.

Mr. Han expresses his dismay in poor response with Mr. Ham’s issue. Deputy Director needs to be sensitive to issues and should not roll her eyes. Mr. John expresses his compassion towards Mr. Ham.

Also, discussed Ford Motors is about the launch the self-driving car in year 2025. State legislation introducing new traffic laws to regulate self-driving cars. With this, the demand for a taxi will be minimized. Raised issue on how medallion’s would hold its’ value in the long term.

Ms. Housman said that notification for last month’s cancelled meeting was sent late and was not received by her. She read her email that was sent to Chris Sweis and stressed that she should be called if there’s a last meeting cancellation to avoid unnecessary travel and cost since she’s coming from long distance. She is upset over this and reiterates that this should not happen again and should call if meeting is cancelled.

Chris Weiss apologized. Ms. Hayashi clarified.

Mr. Lapp discussed problem Pier 39’s blinking yellow light problem raised by Mr. Philip. Feel that this intersection should have a 4-way stop. Suggested Ms. Hayashi act as a liaison for this kind of problems.

Ms. Hayashi suggested a more direct link maybe to Traffic Engineer. Also clarified contact info for Taxi Services for complaints.

Ms. Graffis concurs with Airport problems. Memo from years ago needs to be rewritten. Also, questioned a pending letter to Deputy Director Hayashi that was sent regarding road/traffic restrictions to taxi operators.

Mr. Macmurdo thanked person who reported the fake taxis; aware that this issue can be problematic as it became a big issue in LA.

Mr. Lee commented on SFMTA’s policies saying that the department is going the right direction in addressing Prop K problems. Mr. Lee has positive comments on the revenues being used by SFMTA and feels that we should support this idea.

Mr. Korengold said that SFMTA does not have enough enforcement in place but SFMTA addresses these issues. Bigger threat to the taxi industry is the limos and illegal cabs. Hoping SFMTA will crack down on this issue. He said SFO lacks efficiency in moving cabs along which affects shortage of cabs in the city. SFMTA should also follow-up on the airport issue.

Mr. Hybels were with investigators who cited gypsy cabs.

Mr. Colverson said that Deputy Director should refrain from rolling her eyes which is bad PR or shout it out. Mr. Colverson also made negative comments on time usage in TAC Meeting and waiting period on 7th floor counter which he thinks is unproductive.

Mr. Malik raised issues on public hiring illegal cab. Need to educate public not to hire illegal cabs.

Mr. Migdal is requesting statistics on limo’s and illegal cab operating in the city.

Mr. Ed states that SFMTA should be better staffed to enforce limo problem effectively.

Mr. Eskinder Medhin said SF doormen are doing illegal things with limousine drivers and gives wrong information to the customers. Wants to know what their rights are.

Mr. Newsham said that the problems could be addressed with 12M /year & states that these meetings are just a sham and the industry is just getting money.

Public Comment Closed.

7. Report of the Council Liaison (Discussion only)

a. Staff Update- Chris Hayashi updated

State Legislation proposal form discussed

b. Regulatory Reform Update

Re-designed website

c. Taxi Medallion Sales Pilot Program Update

Single Operator Permit that was sent out discussed

Public Comment

Mr. Moran states that invitation is confusing, questioned the fees and benefits. He thinks this is not economically feasible.

Ms. Hayashi explains that this was due to competing proposal of issuing peak time permits to companies. Ms. Hayashi disagrees with Mr. Moran’s statement and acknowledged his suggestion.

Mr. Charles suggested to accommodate the longest term drivers as oppose to serving the peak time. He said taxi companies can match a single operator who wants to work days to a single operator who wants to work nights and can make this work.

Mr. Abbas Mird discussed cost.

Ms. Jensen has issues with expenses and was calculating profit challenges.

Ms. Hayashi reiterates that this is the reason for this discussion to see if this program will work.

Mr. Alvarez said SFMTA has to make it attractive to the company. See this proposal as a 1/3 of a medallion.

Mr. Saed Miller states that this doesn’t make sense due to cost. Thinks it’s not worth it for 60 hours and it cost a lot of money for maintenance.

Mr. Rajamet states he wrote a letter to SFMTA 2 years ago to put his name on the list. Cab drivers don’t have medical benefits. Mr. Rajamet said that 60 hours is not enough. $500 is a lot of money since there’s a lot of expenses.

Mr. Guber is supporting this idea. Keep in mind that this permit is extra service to the public. Thinks 60 hours can work. Did calculation and it’s possible that you can do quite well. Concerns on the gate cap under the permit holder and how it’s regulated. Lease fee may pose an economic strain? He has questions on driving requirement to get the permit.

Mr. Orchanin asks what the regulation says about the age of the car that they’re thinking of buying? Also asked about, Worker’s Compensation?

Ms. Hayashi said $3000 anticipates Worker’s Compensation be included being that there’s other driver’s on the vehicle. Regarding age of car, nothing has changed and stated what the current rules are.

Mr. Sam raised issues having additional cabs is not going to work.

Brad discussed peak time permit. Feels that there’s no need on daytime driver but there is a need at night time.

Mr. Malik has issues on the fees and explained why this is not going to work. Thinks that the fees should be less for the Single Operator and they should not be charged the regular fee.

Mr. Vladimir Palkin said that he thinks it’s a good idea and will work. But maybe give them more hours to operate.

Mr. Fulkerson said that the proposal for the single operator permits has already been detailed and submitted to SFMTA board and was approved. Any radical changes, the whole process will be repeated. More hours mean longer part time permit.

Break called by Mr. Sweis due to staffing absence @ 2:29pm.

2:43pm meeting continued…

Mr. Mansley questioned the letter and the list. Do not see that can be financially beneficial.

Ms. Hayashi clarified who the letters were sent to.

Mr. Dan asked who he should be talking to for complaints, questions.

 Ms. Hayashi stated Michael Harris.

 Unknown speaker discussed airport policies and restrictions.

Ms. Hayashi stated she has no intention on putting any restrictions.

Ms. Housman said that the main hurdle is buying the vehicle. Discussed driving rules in London; where cost of owning a vehicle can be spread between 2 drivers.

Mr. Lapp asked about the amount of hours the medallion single operator owner would have to drive.

Ms. Hayashi clarified that if you’re going to give this to an individual, that individual has to be a driver as oppose to leasing it out full time.

Mr. Lapp asked the ability to use a spare cab.

Ms. Hayashi explained that spare cabs are for replacing vehicles that has mechanical problems.

Mr. Lee thinks that offer more medallion for peak time hour in the future. We should support it.

Mr. Hybels says the rules on the cars are extremely generous. Driving 60 hours a week you’ll have 200,000 miles on the car by the end of the year. Just drop the year consideration, start at 70,000 and end at 325,000.

Mr. Han agrees. A single operator cab will last a lot longer than a full time cab. Cab companies puts together a package and may be sell high mileage cabs to single operators and may be bring down some of their cost.

Mr. Macmurdo questions when cab is not in service, owner can’t be out driving it around on errands because it appears to the public that it’s an on-duty cab.

Ms. Hayashi confirms that it’s correct. Ms. Hayashi said that it would interfere with electronic reporting.

Mr. Lapp, in response to Mr. Hybels statement said the year was not as a big of a consideration than the mileage and the monitoring being electronic; his fear is that a lot of these companies will not be on board. May operate over 60 hours. Wants to make rules clear and if violated, may be have some fines in place.

Mr. Korengold agrees with Mr. Lapp. Have questions on enforcement. He’s disappointed that public is gone to pass on comments on new bill to allow camera’s on taxi’s thinks it’s a civil rights violation. Thinks is a joke and outraged with this idea.

Mr. Hinds responded to camera issue. He sees the camera enforcement to protect the professional driver. Point out advantages on allowing cameras on vehicles. Understand the argument on freedom of speech. May alleviate issue on liability impact.

Mr. Rebelos agrees with Mr. Hinds. Address cancellation of leases of drivers due to various violations. Having camera separates the bad drivers that have ruined the reputation of the good drivers.

Mr. Korengold supports the cameras but would like control over cameras; have the option to turn off the audio. Feels that having the cameras installed they’re treated like employees and argues that they should have some kind of benefits if they’re treated like employees.

Mr. Lapp discussed single operator issues and gate issues. Mentioned advantages on cameras where it has protected drivers.

Mr. Han sees the advantage of the camera and also would like the audio turned off. Do not like MTA’S proposal regarding privacy laws. Cameras can be intrusive and wishes that MTA would drop this proposal. Says that cab drivers are supposed to be business and says that only the business owner should have access to these videos. If there’s a need for MTA to see a segment of the video, only provide MTA the relevant parts.

Mr. Hybels reiterates the camera issue. Would like control in turning off audio in camera.

Mr. Macmurdo said that if Taxi Services would be able to amend this proposal to give the driver the option to mute the audio.

Mr. Korengold reiterates privacy rights and video privacy rights that’s audio.

Mr. Sweis points out lawsuit issues. If anything happens in the cab then the company is financially responsible for them; said “we have the right to protect our financial responsibility”.

Mr. Macmurdo asked about the duration of the chip.

Ms. Hayashi. 72 hours approximately; depending on what the company and how much they decided to invest on their memory.

Mr. Sam Murrier said FBI AND CIA has a mandate that in communication electronically, you cannot be complex that you cannot break into it. Presented issues as a cab company owner and drivers and are drivers considered employees. If considered employees, he says that they should be allowed to have some control.

Mr. Mauld comments on advantages on cameras but don’t like audio. Comments and concerns on how peak-time cabs would undercut his medallion purchase or change the situation of service.

Mr. Fulkerson said he has objection on hours of single operator permittees that if they want to extend the hours, they don’t extend them on the peak time are since those are already covered. With the camera issue, if they’re considered as independent businessmen, then they should have control over the use of availability of information. Should have objective standards and would not object to legal infraction as reason for termination/firing.

Mr. Malik regarding peak time hours – he said that driver should work over 60 hours. He agrees on everything that was said about the camera except for Mr. Holmes’ comment. Only law enforcement should have access to chip not the manager.

Mr. Rathbone discussed cab companies’ compliance on gate control laws. Have suggestions to town hall meeting. Agree with Mr. Mauld’s comments. He said Toronto Ambassador Cabs are more restrictive.

Mr. Ed discussed privacy issues. Thinks the best solution would be a high level of encryption and you’re only allowed to get in it when there’s a potential legal problem. Drivers complain that (inaudible) intercourse in the cab.

Mr. Robert(?) asked if is it required legally to notify the people that the recording is being made; if it’s posted on the cab.

Mr. Sweis confirmed.

Mr. Mark asked about qualifications to be a cab driver. Agrees with the value of the presence of camera as a crime deterrent and for insurance purposes but against audio since this is confidential. Concern about the legislation’s proposal: states that the cab driver does not have access to the recording.

Ms. Duval, who’s doing a research on the cab industry said that there’s nothing positive on audio and would like to alert the council that under current federal law, law enforcement has the right to have access to this type of information for any reason of any criminal activity and can open a door for all kinds of privacy violation. Raises concerns from privacy standpoint. Said as an independent contractor you don’t have any rights so why allow yourself to be listened to all day long by anyone.

Public comment closed.


8. TAC discussion of the final presentation for the board [discussion and possible action ]

Mr. Sweis discussed the handout that was prepared.

Public Comment

Mr. Hinds said there are some lines that should be brought attention to. He said that there should be some recognition in handling Pre-K medallion holders. About 295 Pre-K medallion holders over 70 years or older who are eligible to sell and there should be note on that. Also, wants clarification on down payment assistance. Said council could comfortably approve this except for the Pre-K medallion word.

Mr. Harris clarifies issues on the seller’s list. 1. Prices of medallions may be going up 2. Buyer assistance 3. Negotiate on color scheme for more monthly money.

Mr. Hinds said program’s material has changed where Pre-K medallion holders are precluded from selling and down payment assistance program capped at 7 years. So those 2 things should be reworked slightly. Program has changed since that draft was made.

Mr. Lapp discussed selling requirements.

Mr. Harris clarified.

Mr. Han wants to emphasize medallion holders or non-medallion holders language. Would like to see more specific language like non-medallion drivers and offer some corrections if he’s allowed.

Mr. Macmurdo would like a synopsis of report from Ms. Hayashi.

Ms. Graffis said she didn’t see anything that addresses non-permit holders getting any benefits or retirement or anything. This is only about the permit selling process; pilot program. Also, talk about restructuring this industry in great informative ways. Said that it should address issues and problems of this industry and also include would like to get drivers’ retirement in this industry.

Mr. Sweis responded and said he would incorporate Ms. Graffis’ comments. He said he would get back to the council with changes and submit a final draft for the board to approve.

Mr. Han asks if items on report regarding long term leases vs. gates and gas if factual data or anecdote and the report should state it. He said that LTL’s could compromise the quality of service to the public since they are less experienced drivers.

Ms. Graffis asked if newly sold permit has to go to gates and gas?

Mr. Sweis confirms.

Mr. Lee says it’s a good report.

Mr. Lapp clarifies issues with Mr. Mounsey. He said there are legal LTL’s out there.

Mr. Korengold suggests a clear distinction between long-term lease and affiliates; a lot are not clear on that. Suggests that a solution to problems with LTL’S and affiliates is hiring inexperienced cab drivers; lowers the quality of drivers.

Mr. Sweis that this was already voted down.

Ms. Housman is happy that you put in recommendations of note that did not pass.

Mr. Han said it’s important to specify non-medallion holder and also specify gate and gas taxi drivers and not just the company’s. So they’re non-medallion gate and gas drivers.

Mr. Rebelos would like reports to be brief and concise to avoid confusion.

Mr. Sweis agrees.

Mr. Lapp thinks the industry did a great job in outlining things in a manageable manner. He is confused with details of waiting list.

Mr. Sweis clarifies.

Ms. Hayashi also clarifies.

Mr. Lee makes statement on LTL and affiliates.

Mr. Housman needs clarification wordings on pre-K and post-K.

Mr. Sweis will go back and look into it.

Mr. Korengold would like stats on sold medallions.

Mr. Rebelos reiterates that the report should not get too cluttered with details.

Mr. Han states that the group should do some reading on autonomous cars – this new technology will have an impact on transportation industry and there are going to be changes in the next 30 years. States his concerns and thinks that the medallion investment would lose its’ value due to these technological advances.

Mr. Macmurdo suggested edits on page 8 under recommendations. To change words from “strongly urge” to maybe “consider them”. To note that there are high numbers of items that’s voted on and may contradict one another.

Ms. Housman opposes.

Public comment

Mr. Sam Aryan has questions about the pilot program.

Mr. Sweis clarifies where the board stands.

Mr. Migdal clarification a Long-Term lease that all taxicabs are going to operate on gas and gates; and recommendation of greater monitoring of affiliates by medallion was voted on. He feels that this is contradictory.

Mr. Sweis understands his concerns and said that the last statement will be changed.

Mr. Fulkerson compliments the writing on report.

Questions on a couple of items:

- Ownership of the cabs

- Medallion sales

Mr. Malik has questions on medallion program. Does not think the medallion program is not fair.

Mr. Rathbone has comments on the format and suggested on reformatting: Introduction, Recommendation, Background should be included. Change the language in the narrative to modify the gates and gas language and have a distinction from non-medallion holders.

Mr. Healy thinks that the report is to the point. He said that there’s a lot of illegal activity going on coming from the long term leases and affiliates and this is a way to attempt to control that; not sure if that’s actually true or not. Would like to see more Town Hall Meetings where we could work out the differences.

Mr. Aryan discussed “brokership”.

Public comment closed.

9. Council Member request for information. (Discussion only)

Mr. Korengold would like a report on illegal limos and taxis & doormen.

Ms. Graffis would like to know what companies have been ticketed or charged with a letter of intent. Just want to know how many.

Mr. Lee wants to know how soon will MTA have a response on the people who participated for the pilot program.

Mr. Hybels has an inquiry on a list of deceased medallion holders.

Ms. Hayashi clarifies. Response to Mr. Lee’s inquiry; SFMTA will get the single operator permits out as soon as possible. Hoping that by July, we’ll have our single operator permits ready.

Public comment closed.

10. Schedule upcoming calendar items (Discussion and Action)

Public Comment

No public comment.

ADJOURNMENT: The meeting was adjourned by standing vote at 4:29 pm.






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