This week’s column is about the consequences taxi drivers face dealing with unregulated competition…
This following is a short excerpt with additional commentary that wasn’t included in the printed column due to space limitations…
Last week, a Yellow driver jumped the curb on Market Street and crashed into a shoeshine stand, critically injuring the two men who worked there. This was big news. All the local newsites and TV stations picked up the story. According to initial reports, the taxi was recklessly speeding down Market, but it was later revealed the driver was suffering from a medical issue at the time. Which is why he never braked before colliding with a newsstand, the shoeshine stand and finally a light pole.
Based on what I’ve heard from people who knew the Yellow driver, he was a medallion holder with a perfect driving record. But, like so many others, he’s been forced to drive longer hours to survive in this new climate, and at the time of the accident, he’d lost consciousness due to extreme dehydration, one cause of which is stress.
This accident doesn’t bode well for Yellow, which filed for bankruptcy protection several months ago after settling two very expensive insurance claims. How this new accident will impact their longevity remains to be seen (the rumors aren’t good), but regardless, the career of the driver involved is tarnished, to say the least.
If internet comments are any indication of the general population’s feelings towards taxis, most people are happy to dance on the grave of the San Francisco taxi industry.
I know, I know… Never read the comments. But I’m a glutton for punishment. The most common statement I see is, “the San Francisco taxi industry can’t die soon enough.”
Well, Uber and Lyft lovers of San Francisco, your wish seems to be coming true.
The comment sections that follow the articles about this latest accident are rife with gleeful Uber fans gloating over the misfortunate circumstances: “SEE! YOU SEE! Taxis are out of control!!”
What these cheerleaders of doom are not recognizing, however, is that we should be grateful it was a taxicab that caused this accident. Had it been an Uber or a Lyft, how would we know who was responsible? At least with a clearly marked taxi, there is no doubt who is liable. The reason taxis are easily identifiable is to ensure accountability. Look at the picture. There is a telephone number on the side, and a unique cab number that connects that cab to the driver.
The same can’t be said for Uber and Lyft vehicles, where the driver can simply remove the Uber and Lyft placards in the event of an accident and pretend to be a regular Joe Schmo whose personal policy, unlike commercial insurance, barely covers injuries and damages.
A few weeks back, a Lincoln Towncar racing north on Larkin Street, crashed into several parked cars before finally coming to a stop in front of the New Century strip club. At which point the driver ran away, leaving his mangled vehicle in the street with a passenger in the back. Although later reports, namely from a regular at the Ha-Ra, suggest the female passenger claimed she was driving, and that it all seemed rather… “druggy.”
Not that it matters. Word around town is, the police aren’t even required to notate whether a car involved in an accident was doing Uber or Lyft at the time when making a report.
That means there’s no telling how many accidents involving Ubers and Lyfts occur each night/day.
Ah, who are we kidding. Nobody gives a fuck.
Cheap rides and boiler plate San Francisco corruption…
Nothing to see here, folks.
Just move along…
My next door neighbor is a former cab driver and SF medallion holder. I watched his life change as Uber and Lyft began to enter the market. He was a nice guy who could pay his bills; not rich, but getting by. He shared the cab with another partner. It was a pretty good life, but not anymore. Now he works all the time and he is stressed out and angry. He is an immigrant with average English skills and not a lot of job opportunities. The cab profession has always been a way for someone to make a living when you can’t speak or read or write English with ease. But now, it’s a brutal way to make a living. If anyone wants to know how Uber/Lyft have changed taxi drivers’ lives for the worse, just spend a week with my neighbor. He is not the same guy. He is rattled by the pace, the constantly changing rules, and the lack of a car repair facility. If you wonder who fixes your Uber, come over and watch my neighbor the driveway doing it himself to save money. Do you fix your own brakes? Does a Muni driver take the bus home to work on it at night after a shift? Think about that next time you hop in an Uber.
LikeLiked by 1 person