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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Caught & Confronted Foul Mouthed Town Car Driver Stealing Taxicab Fares (VIDEO)

Earlier today, I confronted a towncar driver who was trying to sell to tourists a $3 ride to downtown.  If you watched the video above, the confrontation went ugly and I hoped he realized that he's going to be out of a job very soon and face a $5,000 fine.  I intend to report this to the California Public Utilities Commission and SFMTA enforcement.


But before I get to the laws about this, I also found out this mean asshole's vehicle isn't even legal!  Here, take a look:

The TCP number listed as per the PUC means it's not legal, so we have a dirty vehicle with a driver who steals fares.

The Laws:
The law about towncars and limos is they cannot do on-demand or solicit for rides.  Only licensed taxicabs are allowed to do this.  Towncars and limos are limited to prearranged rides (e.g. appointments).  In San Francisco, this means only licensed San Francisco taxicabs can pick-up passengers without reservation and on-demand.

Limo and towncar drivers who solicits for rides are doing a lot of things wrong:
(1) They steal work from legitimate taxicab drivers.
(2) As it's not a taxi, the drivers may not be subject to the scrutiny the City and County of San Francisco enforces on cabs and their drivers, such as background checks, testing them on the city map, frequent vehicle inspections, inspecting taxi meters, and liability insurance.  A few years back, I had a towncar pull over and passengers yell at me: "do you know where Nob Hill is?"  I responded: "You should fire that driver."
(3) Limo and towncar drivers have been known to rip-off passengers by advertising a cheap ride, then jacking the fare or dropping passengers off in some not so nice areas.  I've never heard of a $3 and even a $5 fare from Fisherman's Wharf to downtown before.
(4) They take advantage of tourists who doesn't know the laws, BUT I DO.

Why did I record and confront that driver?  Here's why:
A week ago, I was waiting at that exact location for a F-Market trolley, but they were taking forever to show-up.  During that time, two limos pulled over in front of the stop, opened their door and solicited a "$5" fare to downtown.

The first vehicle driver, I asked him: "Are you aware of the MTA laws about soliciting?"  He knew he just got caught by a local resident who knows the laws.  He apologized, got back in his car, and apologized again at me.  Since he was playing nice, I told him I wouldn't report him.

The second vehicle driver, I said nothing.  Instead, I decided to take a photo of his vehicle and record about 15 seconds of material while he took about five passengers.  At that point, I decided to take a few minutes at home to report it to the SFMTA, and an inspector contacted me a day later for a copy of the photo and video.  I'm expecting the inspector's case to be a slam dunk and a fat $5,000 fine.  See video and photo:

Today's lesson!
Today's lesson, don't get cheated by illegal operators.  I have a new found respect for cab drivers who do follow the laws and have the right to take on-demand rides.   The cab drivers have to make a living, and I hope the PUC and the cops find that illegally operating towncar and that foul mouthed driver, and tow it away.

I KNOW MY RIGHTS.  FEAR ME you illegally operating towncars and limos.


Eric Kauschen said...

I just noticed that Uber's Black Car service is phasing out Town Car's that are older than 3 years so a lot of these guys who were making lots of money with Uber prior to UberX have not been downgraded to the point where they can barely cover the cost of gas for the vehicle.

$3 to go from the Wharf to FiDi is actually pretty cheap compared to a taxi or even companies like Uber, Lyft & Sidecar. At least they're regulated by the CPUC. These town car drivers though are either upping the fare and ripping off the riders or they're going to go out of business shortly.

Akit said...

@Eric: But it's a little scary to have a guy generally say "downtown" for $3 a head when there's a lot of territory to cover. For all we know, he could drop you off in the Tenderloin and demand higher fare to drop off somewhere nicer.

I'm also not sure what the CPUC will do to a vehicle that's running dirty, but hopefully SFMTA enforcement will.

brynn said...

I had a horrible run in with the driver in the first video back in January. My friend and I were waiting for the 47 on Hyde and North Point when he approached offering a ride we kindly said no and he then proceeded to harass us for a ride for the next 5 mins he finally started to drive away but called us "bitched" so I called him an "asshole". He stopped his car in the middle of the street got out and attempted to take a swing at me (with his keys in his hand), repeatedly called me bitch, whore and any other word he could think of. This went on for about 15 mins until someone on the other side of the street said he was calling the cops. The guy got back in his car FINALLY drove away. Everyone AVOID this jerk at all cost!

Mark Taylor said...

I seem to recall Stanley Roberts (People Behaving Badly)did a segment on limo drivers soliciting work at the airport. He uncovered it was going on that they used tweets or instant messaging to warn when cops came around.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate what you do but you were WAY to polite in dealing with the asshole.

Legal Limousine said...

WARNING! This driver is DANGEROUS, do not confront him as you will get physically assaulted. Contact SFPD and let them confront him, do not confront him. I was assaulted by him after attempting to stop him from abusing senior citizens at the F line Bus stop at the Muni yard near Pier 39, his favorite hang out. I called SFPD and they were there in 10 minutes, and a couple from Texas stayed to give statements to SFPD, and I was later called in for a photo lineup. The DA's office refused to file charges as the witnesses were from Texas, and everyone has the right to confront their accusers in court. The PUC does nothing as they have an enforcement staff of 15 and mainly do airport stings. Please save yourself time and effort, call SFPD you will avoid the physical assult and the doctor/hospital bills.