Tag Archives: app-based transportation

The silent us are out there: a letter from a reader

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July 28, 2017

Kelly,

I’ll be brief: I appreciate your columns. I don’t always enjoy them, because some of your experiences push my buttons, good and bad, but I do appreciate them. A long time ago, another cab driver used to post his column, and it also was worth reading. I believe it was called Night Cabbie.

I’ve lived in the Castro for over 20 years. I used to hate waiting for a cab when I needed one, like when I had 4 bags of groceries from Safeway. They didn’t come when called, and in the daytime, they were all parked downtown at the hotels. I knew that my $6 (way back) plus $1-2 tip could not compete. And I resented that I was “second class” behind downtown fares.

And Uber swung the pendulum my way. Any ride, any time. Yippee. But then the reality set in. Uber was mean and aggressive, very un-SF-like. I tried Taxi Magic/Curb, but without a credit card guarantee, they would blow me off too. Finally, Lyft came along. Soon, I noticed that 40% of taxi drivers were “new”. The regulars quit, retired, or started driving for Uber. It bothered me a bit.

Finally, the taxi industry got their shit together and produced an app: Flywheel. Took a while to work the kinks out, but it’s fine now.

I like the experience of taxis. I like that the driver usually knows where I’m going and the best way to get there without relying on “Wayz” app or gps. I like that taxi drivers will pull up in front of my door, get out, and help me with those bags of groceries. I like that the drivers know where and how to flip a U-turn and get it done without whining. I like that I don’t have to worry about surge pricing. And I know that taxis have all the proper certifications and insurance.

I like Flywheel because it levels the playing field for fares, from Yellow Cab and Luxor down to the small independents.

I’m glad that Uber came along. It changed my life for the better in getting a ride. I usually split between Lyft and taxis depending on circumstances, but I want my taxis to stay around.

So you keep writing and keep driving.

The silent us are out there.

David Fusilier
San Francisco, CA

Take This App and Shove It: On Flywheel’s TaxiOS

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So Flywheel (the app, not the taxi company, though is there really a difference?) has developed a backend app for drivers called TaxiOS, or, what we call a “soft meter.”

Flywheel wants to push the SFMTA to replace traditional taximeters with this app. So instead of the taximeter, hardwired to the tires to determine distance, we would use GPS, which sees the city of San Francisco, based on a map, as flat, when is is anything but.

I cry foul. I’ve worked for app companies before (Uber and Lyft) and prefer the traditional taximeter. I don’t trust apps. Sure, for social media like Facebook or Twitter, but to determine what are essentially my living wages, which are a bare minimum at best?

No thanks.

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Don’t get me wrong, Flywheel, the app, which allows anyone to hail a cap instantly through their phone, is great. If only they’d advertise more so we’d get more business. But no… instead of focusing on getting more users, they are trying to take over the SF taxi industry.

This is the subject of my column this week.

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A Fare in the Backseat is Worth Two on the Street

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National Cab yard closed for Christmas

This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about the frustrations of app-based transportation and an exploration of the many reasons why a cab might pass up a fare…

When passengers tell me they were never able to order a cab, I usually ask which company they’d call. Almost always it was Yellow. Or Luxor. Or DeSoto. The three cab companies with the largest fleets. But what about the smaller companies? National’s motto is “We answer the phone!”

Read the rest here.