It’s all about the radio…
Back in the day, Veterans Cab was the premier radio company in San Francisco. Veterans drivers would pass up hundreds of street flags on their way to pick up one radio call. They had accounts throughout the Financial as well as most top-rated restaurants and bars across The City. If you wanted a cab to actually show up, you didn’t call Yellow. You called Veterans.
That’s all history now, though, of course. Over time, Veterans became Arrow Checker when National bought Veterans, then Arrow went under and the last of the Veterans accounts were either squandered or lost to Uber.
What little radio business National was able to hold onto had all but dissipated by the time the new owner decided to implement a Flywheel branded, app-based dispatch system.
When the two-way radios disappeared from all the National/Veterans cabs one day, hardly anyone noticed.
Ever since the idea of transitioning to soft meters was first suggested, I vehemently opposed it. I just want to drive a cab, I repeatedly told the manager at National, equipped with a traditional taximeter. Why fix what isn’t broken? Besides, the countless problems I’d had with the Flywheel phone vastly outnumbered my one incident with the taximeter.
Technology is wonderful, sure. When it works.
Without a radio, you end up just working hotel lines and prowling the streets for random fares, hoping for the occasional Flywheel request. As long as there aren’t any server issues, that is. This strategy can lead to some very boring, unprofitable shifts.
Even though I rarely play the airport, the SFMTA’s new policy determining which cabs get preferential treatment at SFO eliminates another source of fares.
So what’s a cab driver who just wants to serve the people of San Francisco supposed to do?