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Friday, May 21, 2010

Are you SF Taxi Smart? How to Identify Real Ones vs. Fakes

San Francisco taxicabs are very regulated by the SFMTA's Taxicab Commission. I remember riding one of the many cabs in Las Vegas and the guy said, "you think we have it tough, San Francisco is just nuts!"

But I do respect our cab drivers for their speedy service at a premium price. I've depended on them to get me home from my senior prom nearly ten years ago, and those days when I had to get to SF State in a big hurry to turn in a term paper.

On Wednesday at my job at SF State, I noticed some unfamiliar taxicabs roaming around the SF State area called "City Yellow Cab." I noticed them a few times before while driving to SF State for the past few mornings, and I knew these cabs were not authorized to pick-up passengers within city limits. I gave a call to University Police, and five minutes later, pulled one of them over.

But there's so many cabs out there. You want to make sure that you get to your destination safely and the driver/cab company is insured in case of an accident. Also, by using legitimate cab companies, it covers the costs of the drivers paying to lease the vehicles and their livelihoods.

How can you identify an authorized SF Taxicab? The SFMTA gives three basic ways to ID, but I'll show you more ways to identify:
  1. On the rear sides and on the trunk of the vehicle, it must say "San Francisco Taxicab."
  2. There is a mini metal license plate near the front windshield, and the number must match the vehicle number located on multiple areas of the car.
  3. On the rear doors, there's a circular sticker issued by the city.
  4. All cab drivers must display their ID inside the cab.
  5. Inside the cab, there's a display mentioning the cost of the rides, and information if you need to file a complaint, and the policy about disputing a charge by ordering the cab to report to the nearest SF police station.
  6. There should be a security camera installed in all the cabs. Many cab companies put a "warning" sticker on their car doors.
How to identify illegal taxis:
  1. There's one easy way to identify: It does not say "San Francisco Taxicab." Some say "Taxicab" only, while others don't have that designation on their sides and rear.
  2. There's no circular sticker near the rear doors.
But don't forget folks, limos and other livery cars are not permitted to pick-up people on-demand. They are only allowed to take passengers when there is a pre-arranged appointment. You will frequently find these types of cars at major hotels around the city when the bellman will ask if you want a cab or a limo. Always ask for a taxi to be prevented from being ripped-off. The SFO airport also reminds visitors at baggage claim to never accept a ride from anyone soliciting; only go to the taxicab line or the airport shuttle areas.

1 comment:

Jim said...

SF cab drivers are required to display ID inside the cab, but lots of them don't.

Lots of the cabs are from other cities, of course.

Sometimes, people at SFO used to go to the upper level and hop in a taxi dropping off. Seems like a win-win.

If an out of town cabbie picks up in SF, then the SFPD can throw the book at him/her - each violation you mention comes with a different penalty.

There are some genuine SF cabbies who refuse to convey (which is a misdemeanor) or charge too much (also a crime) when things are busy in town