San Francisco taxi dispatch services targeted for improvements

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Cabs that fail to meet customer expectations are nothing new in San Francisco. Today, however, minimum requirements could be adopted to steer dispatch services toward higher standards.

There are two causes for The City's taxi supply shortage, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's best-practices consultant, Hara Associates: the chronic undersupply of cabs and existing dispatch systems failing to respond to service requests outside the downtown area.

The former was addressed in April when the transit agency's board of directors authorized introducing 750 new taxis between 2012 and 2015. The solution on the table for the latter is establishing minimum criteria for the size of a dispatch service and the number of calls successfully served per day, to be increased so that by the end of 2015, dispatch service permit holders would have to be affiliated with at least 100 medallions and complete at least 500 dispatch orders per day.

Existing regulations, originally adopted as part of the police code in 1988 and by the Taxi Commission in 2007, do not contain enforceable dispatch performance standards, according to a staff report.

“These would be the first amendments to dispatch standards and is part of our overall efforts to improve taxi service in San Francisco,” said transit agency spokesman Paul Rose.

The proposed regulations, brought up at town hall meetings about taxis for months, add to other recent requirements targeting the cab industry.

Last month, the board passed an annual training course requirement for drivers. And many taxi drivers have been advocating for mobile-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft to receive similarly stringent requirements from the California Public Utilities Commission, which is expected to take up the issue Thursday.

The transit agency board is considering the dispatch service proposal at a meeting today.

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