The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Seattle Taxis Fare Badly

Seattle Times 22 March 1996


Experts rank city's taxis on 'low end' in service, cost

By Peter Lewis
Seattle Times Staff Reporter

A new report bashes Seattle's taxi industry - citing poor service, drivers who don't know their way around town, junky cabs and inconsistent tares - and calls for major changes to let the city regain control of the industry.

The report, to he presented to a Seattle City Council committee today - reaffirms what other recent studies have found: Seattle's taxi industry is fraught with problems.

"In general we all agreed that Seattle was definitely on the low end of cities that we're familiar with, which includes quite a few," said Barbara Lupro, taxi administrator with the Metropolitan Transit Development Bard in San Diego.

Lupro and two other industry experts - Sandi Avants, who recently retired as the regulator of taxis in Las Vegas. and Gorman Gilbert, former commissioner of taxicabs and limousines in New York City - visited Seattle for three days last fall.

They interviewed more than 25 people - public officials, independent taxi operators and fleet operators, representatives of the hospitality industry, the transit system, the Chamber of Commerce and the riding public.

Categories of problems they identified include:

# Service: Some customers were unable to hail taxis; cab availability was poor in some areas, such as West Seattle; there were too few cab stands, especially in busy areas; response times were slow; there were fights over passengers and refusals to take short trips.

# Drivers: Some were unable to find landmarks or other common destinations; some were unable to communicate in English; some were unclean, had a poor attitude toward customers, were unsightly or were rude.

# Fares were sometimes inconsistent between the city and the county, from one operator to another, and for trips between the same two points; and wait times and traffic-delay charges were sometimes excessive.

# Vehicles: Some were in poor condition, old or dirty inside and out.

# Discrimination: Some drivers passed up African-American customers.

# Image: Some cabs and drivers present a poor image to business, convention and tourist visitors, littering and engaging in nontaxi-relat- ed activities in front of hotels and at other stands.

# Enforcement: A sense that enforcement of industry regulations was nonexistent, inadequate or ineffective.

Joe Young, owner of Pioneer Cabs, said yesterday the taxi industry in Seattle had declined after it was deregulated in 1979 and hasn't yet recovered. He disagreed that the situation is worse here than anywhere else, but acknowledged that the industry is being hurt by drivers who don't know English well and don't know their way around town.

It was because of such conditions that the Westin Hotel last year established its own taxi-enforcement program, refusing to let cabs that didn't meet its standards serve its guests, an action other hoteliers envy, according to the report.

The report recommended a radical restructuring of the industry, away from the current approach, in which the city regulates individual drivers and vehicles, to an organized approach, in which it would deal with companies, associations or cooperatives.

In Seattle today, there are nearly 640 licensed cabs and about 1,000 drivers.

The recommended strategy also envisions setting up franchises in which individual companies or associations would bid for exclusive rights to serve parts of town, or for a limited number of citywide franchises.

The report's findings and recommendations are consistent with those of a Seattle-area advisory group whose membership includes the same stakeholders interviewed in the peer-group report, according to Mel McDonald, an advisory-group member who is also division director in the city's Finance Department, with responsibility for taxis.

The group has been meeting since late last year to solve the city's taxi problems, he said. He expects legislation to be drafted that would force all cabs to join associations, which, in turn, would be responsible for enforcing standards.

"Now," McDonald noted, "only owners and drivers have responsibilities. It's a subtle change with a dramatic effect.

Back to the Taxi-L Regulation Page

The articles are posted solely for educational purposes to raise awareness of transportation issues. I claim no authorship, nor do I profit from this website. Where known, all original authors and/or source publisher have been noted in the post. As this is a knowledge base, rather than a blog, I have reproduced the articles in full to allow for complete reader understanding and allow for comprehensive text searching...see custom google search engine at the top of the page. If you have concerns about the inclusion of a specific article, please email for a speedy resolution.