Commission keeps devilish taxi cab number alive

A Good Friday fire could not destroy it and a Mission Dolores blessing could not purify it. Now, the Taxicab Commission is on the same list of entities that couldn’t lay cab license No. 666 to rest.

During the commission’s Tuesday night meeting, officials decided in a 5-1 vote not to bury the number indefinitely.

Longtime DeSoto cabdriver Michael Byrne, who received No. 666 in August 2006, requested that the taxicab commission retire the number and replace it with fleet medallion No. 1307. A medallion number serves as a taxi licensing method and is issued to taxi-driving applicants in order of availability. The number on the badge-like medallion is also routinely displayed on the cab.

In Byrne’s case, medallion No. 666 appeared on the hood, as well as other places inside and outside the vehicle, said Jordanna Thigpen, deputy director for the Taxicab Commission.

Byrne, who had the medallion blessed at Mission Dolores after receiving it, was not present during Tuesday’s meeting.

Many city cabdrivers took the possibility of retiring the No. 666 as a joke. Green Cab employee Thomas George-Williams addressed the commission with a pair of Satan horns, joking that, “you cannot take Satan’s number away.”

While many other cabdrivers publicly admitted that the agenda item was a silly one, veteran Yellow Cab driver Mike Spain said he thought the commission made the “wrong decision.”

“The commission is always talking about setting precedents,” Spain said. “This is an emotional number. Some numbers can strike a chord in people.”

Commission president Paul Gillespie, the only commissioner who voted to retire the number, is the only cabdriver on the commission. Gillespie was in favor of retiring the number because it was a chance to “make someone’s life easier.”

According to Thigpen, other city cabdrivers have had bizarre experiences using the same number. She said that about three years ago, a cab marked with No. 666 “burst into flames” on Good Friday at the intersection on California and Franklin streets. The only thing left visible in the burned rubble was medallion No. 666, she said.


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