Tag Archives: gypsy cab

Return of the Gypsy Cab That’s One Step Ahead

Last time we checked in with out favorite gypsy cab, the fake medallion number had been covered with electrical tape in some feeble attempt to go incognito as it sat parked in plain site outside the California Smoke Shop on Geary Street:

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photo by Bradley Voelker

In fact, the driver of this gypsy cab spends so much time at that smoke shop, it’s been captured on Google Street View:

Several weeks back, I was cab standing at The Great Northern and saw him drive by with a garbage bag taped over his back window, after someone obviously smashed it in. And no wonder, since the SFPD, the DMV and the SFMTA were all notified of this illegal operation and all claimed to have no jurisdiction over it. But a broken window didn’t stop this scofflaw…

Now, the Gypsy Cab that’s One Step Ahead is back, more brazen than ever. With a crafty new medallion number: 007.

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photo by Gerry Rowland

As you can see, the license plates are the same:

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But now he’s enlisted a new driver.

Numerous taxi drivers have spotted him around the city.

Even Stanley Roberts, who produces the People Behaving Badly series for KRON4 News, posted about the fake cab on Facebook:

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I guess claiming to be a SAM Francisco/Redwood City cab makes him immune to the laws of SAN Francisco.

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photo by Christian Lewis

He even has a phone number on the outside. And why not? He’s immune to any sanctions by the city.

Just goes to show… you can get away with anything in San Francisco, except, apparently, eating pizza at a bus stop. Gotta draw the line somewhere…

[All images, other than screengrabs, courtesy of the omnipresent SF Hackers.]

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The Gypsy Cab That’s One Step Ahead

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Wouldn’t it be nice… to run a taxi without paying gates or commercial insurance or any permits to the city… think of all the cash you’d be raking in. Well, the guy who’s running this illegal taxi has been doing just that. And getting away with it.

I first spotted him on October 8, 2016, outside the night club Mighty on Utah at 15th Street. Once I saw the taximeter on the dash, the official looking ad topper that adorns most Yellow SUVs and a brightly lit toplight that clearly read TAXI, I confronted the driver, asking if he was running a gypsy cab. He promptly told me to fuck off. So I took these pictures. I tried to take some video of passengers getting into his illegal taxi andhis top light going out when he hit the meter, but my phone didn’t cooperate.

The medallion numbers on the side 983 don’t belong to a working Yellow Cab, according to the Yellow taxi company (we checked). So this is obviously a decommissioned taxi from their fleet that the driver probably bought in an auction. Or he may be a former driver for Yellow, or a mechanic. It would seem that he has some experience in the taxi industry.

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Most of the markings have been removed. The permits, obviously, the “SAN FRANCISCO TAXICAB,” along with Yellow’s logo and phone number. The license plate is not associated with a Yellow cab, even though it’s a commercial plate. More on that later though…

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In December 2016, taxi driver Barry Taranto took this picture of the same illegal cab. Notice the license plate is different.

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A Fog City Cab driver took this next photo of the illegal taxi parked in the Tenderloin with a license plate in the dash, which matches the plates on the first photos I took.

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Over the past several months, the SFMTA taxi division was notified. Since the driver usually parks the vehicles in the TL, without any concern of getting in trouble, an enforcement officer with the SFMTA went by and left a note under the windshield wiper with his number. The gypsy cab driver, surprise, surprise, didn’t call.

Since then, drivers continue to report seeing the illegal cab all over town, as well as consistently parked in the TL, near where the driver apparently lives.

Last week, on Larkin, I saw the cab parked outside New Century Theater and noticed he’d covered the medallion numbers with electrical tape.

Barry Taranto took the following photos outside Badlands on 18th Street in The Castro on February 13, 2016. Notice the license plate is different again, although still a commercial plate. So we know he has at least three plates.

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Despite covering the medallion number and the YoTaxi markings on the bumper, he still has the same ad topper and…

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A functioning taximeter on the dash.

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Out of curiosity, a taxi driver looked up the license plates on the DMV site. Two came back without a match, but the first one has $700 worth of fines associated with it.

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BTW, this is the real Medallion 983. It’s a Flywheel taxicab. According the SFMTA database of medallion owners, 983 belongs to Samra Bikramjit.

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So what does any of this amount to? Not much, according to the SFMTA taxi division. Not much, according to the cops and parking control officers, who just keep adding on tickets. Would the DMV give a shit? Would City Hall? Would anyone?

Essentially, this a lesson to all aspiring scofflaws in this city. You can do whatever the fuck you want and never face the consequences. Why lease a taxi from a cab company? Why pay gates? Why pay for permits? Why do anything but get a decommissioned cab with a taximeter and a toplight and go make some serious cash on the streets of San Francisco?

If this guy can do it, why can’t you? Hell, why can’t any of us?

It’s not like you’d ever get busted. After all, we’ve known about him for at least 5 months. Who knows how longs he’s been at it and how long he’ll continue to get away with it until someone stops him.

The Rogue Cab Company of San Francisco

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As rain falls hard on a humdrum night in The City, the windshield wipers on National 182 slap away the moisture obscuring my view of the street and any potential flags.

The longer I drive empty, the more I convince myself there are thousands of people just dying to get in my cab, if only my visibility weren’t so limited. So I drive slower, and slower, and slower, until I’m stopped outside a dismal bar, hoping someone will run into the back of my cab and say, “Walnut Creek! Step on it!”

After driving empty for half an hour, I try not to let it drag me down. And yet, my mind begins to wander into the depths of wanton speculation and I contemplate all that I can’t control…

Like the conversation I’d had with Colin on the way to work today when we saw an Oakland cab stripped of most of its taxi markings and a TCP license on its bumper.

“Why would anyone get a TCP license at this point in the game?” he asked. “He could just go to the hardware store and get some adhesive numbers and put them on your bumper and look legit.”

“What about cab drivers?” I asked. “Why do we follow the rules?”

Cause we’re a bunch of chumps. That’s why.

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This week’s column in the S.F. Examiner is about starting a gypsy cab. Why follow the rules when no one does? It’s not like there’s anyone out there enforcing the rules. Are cab drivers fools for voluntarily doing what’s right when the game is rigged against them by a system that completely ignores them and their struggles?

Read the entire column here.

 

Photo by Trevor Johnson.

Taxi Drivers Confront Uber Driver with Toplight on his Prius

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After seeing this guy around SF for months, picking up street flags and running the Uber and Lyft apps on a phone on his dash, a Town Taxi driver decided enough was enough and confronted the gypsy cab on Market Street. I happened to pull up in National 182 right at the shit went down.

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The Uber fake taxi is blocked in by our cabs on Market Street, inbound at Sanchez. 7 more cab drivers came to assist.

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The SFMTA Parking Patrol arrived on the scene, took the side of the cab drivers and called the police, because when the confrontation first occurred, the Uber driver shot mace at one of the cab drivers. The PCO then blocked the confrontation so the Uber driver was not able to leave the scene.

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Investigating the toplight. It appears to be a Spoon Rocket topper that he appropriated into a top light and screwed into the roof of his Prius. A wire runs down into the interior through the side of the door covered in clear packaging tape.

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The Uber driver who impersonates a cab driver outside his car to the right, trying to film the 8 cab drivers encircling him, who ask him if he thinks what he is doing is legit. He never answers. Before the cab drivers were able to push his car over and set it on fire, like they did in Paris (just kidding), the cops showed up.

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The San Francisco Police having a talk with the Uber driver. Afterwards, the cops talked to the cab drivers and said, “That guy is full of shit. He’s on our radar now. If we see him around, we’re going to cite him. We gave him his one warning.”

Now it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll be back on the streets of San Francisco with that fake toplight on his Prius.

[Updated: He’s never been seen since.]