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October 10, 2012: PFHT Board Meeting Minutes

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PRIVATE FOR-HIRE TRANSPORTATION

BOARD OF REVIEW

Minutes for October 10, 2012 Board Meeting

 

1.  Call to Order

Time: 1:30pm

 

Roll Call

Present: Ryan Hashagen, John Case, Kirk Foster, Steve Entler, Michael Huggins, Red Diamond, Muzafar Rasheed, Ramon Corona, Gail Bauhs, Tony Tabrizi, Veronica Rinard, Jon Putman, Al Ochosa, Kathleen Butler, Frank Dufay, Lauren Wolfe and Patrick Kramer

Others/Audience: The list of other attendees is available from the Revenue Bureau.

2.     Agenda

 

Motion to Accept the Agenda: Putman

Seconded: Entler

No Discussion

Passed Unanimously

  

3.      Approval of Minutes from September 26, 2012 Board Meeting

 

Motion to Postpone Discussion of September 26, 2012 Minutes until next Board Meeting: Putman

Seconded:  Entler

No Discussion

Passed Unanimously

 

4.     Discussion of Staff Recommendations Regarding Taxi Permit Applications

 

Board Comment

Diamond: Asked if there is any data since the Taxi Driver Labor Report that would indicate an improvement in conditions since that report.  New ordinance that criminalizes non permitted companies and asked if there any vehicle impounded yet. 

Entler: Feels that it is necessary to look at decisions from the driver perspective.  Drivers face competition from competing cab companies as well as drivers from their own company including in some cases SAT and Shuttle trips.  They also compete with unpermitted drivers and companies, as well as mass transit, car to go, light rail, hotel courtesy shuttles and the like.  Taxi companies are just tools of the drivers to derive income.  For the most part he agrees with the Staff Recommendations.  However, he disagrees with recommendation for 32 permits for Green Cab.  He could not find the justification within Green’s documentation that was supplied by the Revenue Bureau.  Average calls per cab per day compared between Green Cab and Radio Cab.  Why take on a large contract such as with Tri Met if you couldn’t handle the calls you already had?  Green was reportedly first with backseat credit card machines but they had to do something quick anyway because they were processing credit cards illegally.  The taxi magic was originally brought to the Portland market by Broadway.  Recommendation to increase Portland Taxi permits by 46%, Green by 67%, and Radio by 28%.  Entler recommends same percentage increase, 46% to Portland Taxi and Green.  Alternately, he suggested, the recommendations could stand but only if SAT division vehicles eliminated.

 

Tabrizi: Green was granted shuttle permits which no other cab company has and contributes to the overall growth of the company.

Rinard: Discussed with Travel Portland Action Committee.  They were concerned with the vagueness of reforms and issuance of permits before reforms.  However, they see the value of getting more permits out there.  Recently a visitor tweeted that they waited 90 minutes for a cab.  Travel Portland would support issuing the permits incrementally.  Issue a proportionate amount the first year then review impacts on customer service, progress of reforms and back seat credit card machines or at least all compliant with latest credit card standards.  This review would be made 1 year after issuance with real progress being shown on reforms prior to any additional permits being issued.  They believe that customer service reforms should be given a high priority.

Murchinson: The addition of additional taxi permits would not contribute to better conditions for drivers, instead it will increase competition.  The Board has not been given enough time to evaluate the recommendation nor have all the documentation for the recommendations been provided.  In addition, there are discrepancies in the data used.  Where would the taxis stage?  Companies allowed to amend their application after the fact when city documents stated that would not be allowed.  Always Cab denied because of operating in violation of City Code.  However, Portland Taxi, in their documentation, stated that they provided rides to Americab which is not a permitted company.  In addition, there were a disproportionate amount of trips should at the airport as opposed to the rest of the city, indicating that they were not providing citywide service as code requires.  According to Feb 2010 airport report stated common for taxi drivers to wait 4-6 hours.  As a result no additional taxi permits issued by the Port.  Now they have an alternating day system. Portland is unique in its transportation needs from the other cities in the report.  The Port will not be voting for the recommendation at this time.

Putman: The financial documents for Union Cab it does not appear they have sufficient capitalization.  He likes the idea of getting a decision on new taxi companies prior to Council prior to the Board voting on the applications from existing taxi companies.  Also no exit strategy if the business fails.  All those drivers would be out of a job.

Corona: Concerned regarding the disconnect between taxi coverage in outlying areas compared to the downtown core. 

Foster: It seems Radio Cab from the documentation shows they have more work than they can handle.  The other companies do not seem to have documentation to support more permits.  Union Cab is a separate issue.  Portland needs another company with a driver focused business model.

Diamond: Referred to letter from Commissioner Saltzman’s Office stating that implementing taxi reforms should be considered prior to issuing new taxi permits.  Result of approving recommendation would be 35% less market share for drivers.  No consideration of market need in neighborhood.  Questioned the benefit to the drivers.

Butler: Premise of recommendation is taxi drivers need more choices for what company to work for.  The recommendation cannot succeed without much stronger performance standards for the companies.  Standards include evidence of advertising, marketing, and technology investments as well as good number of dispatched fares.

Entler: Disturbed by Commissioner Saltzman’s letter which stated that at a minimum the new company needs time in market before permits are issued to existing companies.  To Entler this seemed unfair advantage to new company.

Rinard: Portland does have differences with other cities but many people don’t own cars in Portland which can increase demand.  Curious whatSan Francisco’s taxi per capita numbers.  Although a larger city,San Franciscois  similar in transportation systems. 

Butler: Single and no car households do correlate with higher taxi service demand.  According to data from Metro, Portland has about 40% of single or no car households.

Public Comment

Bob Pung: Only 15% of the fleet are wheelchair accessible.  Response should be within 1hr with 2 accessible cabs available 24/7.  He suggested reciprocity between metro cities and Portland.  The Tri County area is growing immensely. 

Butch Miller: Demand Study stated market was oversaturated.  Not enough growth to support 132 additional taxis.  Seattle has NFL, MLB and more Fortune 500 companies and more international flights.  Our demographics do not show need for more taxis.  Economists are predicting a double dip recession. 

Madeline Elder: The reason for low wages is not too many cabs, it’s how long they have to work for paying for the kitty.  All cabs drivers need better conditions.  Part of process that enable cab drivers to make a decent living.  It’s about how we treat people who do their job when the city issues permits.

Kevin Hewitt: Disagreed with statistics in the recommendation.  Not rooted in science.

Kedir Wako: This is about benefits to all cab drivers not just Union Cab drivers.  More time for family, better life.  Drivers pay $135 day to hold their spot while they go on vacation.

Audience1: We don’t want to take over someone else’s business.  What we want is to be a new breed of service providers and make changes to all drivers to improve working conditions for them and their family.  When considering service, think beyond downtown and the Airport.  Think about the low income senior needing a trip to the grocery store.

David: Reasons for increase in permits are insufficient.  Independent analysis needed.  Demand comes in spurts, not continuous.

Abdella: Taxi drivers need more time for family

Tuffa: Broadway SATs compete with taxis.  Hopes Board votes for recommendations to give drivers a chance to earn more money.

Tiva Nicholas and Owen Blank: New Rose City should get permits.  Main reason cited for denial of permits is failure to show demand.  New Rose City refers 55-70 calls/weeks because they can’t meet demand with current number of permits.  Request clear notification of decision in order to appeal if necessary.

Oke Mohammed: Drivers organized for betterment of drivers several years ago.  Many were afraid of company retaliation.  Union cab drivers will consist of existing permitted drivers.

Brenda Hiatt: Drivers need protection from companies which do not have the best interests of the drivers in mind.  Issues: Kitty fees, administrative fees, no personal injury protection.  Would like to see non adversarial climate. 

Aaron Carlson: More taxis will result in drivers driving more hours and more money being paid to doorman.

Scott Augustine: We want sustainability.  Financial data regarding taxi company owner income should be transparent.

Sean Strauss: Relationship between drivers and dispatch key.  Believes cab drivers provide excellent service under a lot of pressure.  The numbers in the report don’t make sense.

Steve Hext: Submitted information to Board.  Drove for Broadway when it was a coop.  Not enough time has been given.  Two greatest expenses for drivers, kitty, for company it’s insurance.  Did not find any accurate kitty numbers in any documents provided.  Inaccurate assessment lead to inaccurate proposal.  Proposal should not be brought forward until accurate kitty information is obtained.

Raye Miles: Submitted information to Board.  Hard time following logic, data and process.  Statistics conflicting within the recommendation.  Should follow procurement process in City for recommendations.  Proceed with reforms prior to permit issuance.

Tesfaye Aleme:  Submitted document to Board. Green Cab does deserve the permits.  Company must be allowed to grow.  More permits should lead to lower kitty.

Wayne Klepper: Green Cab is working hard to increase customer service.  We don’t have the permits to handle calls. 

Osman Mohamed: Thank you for recommending permits to Union Cab

BREAK

 

John Hopkins: Demand does not exist for new cab permits.  Disagree that one company deserves permits over another.  Too many drivers concerned over airport fares more than customer service.

Arnold Arutyunov: Not question of lack of cabs, it’s a question on how drivers do their jobs.  Need to draw on experience of cab drivers with years of experience.

Hussen Abdulgadir:  Please support Union Cab application.

Hassen Ahmed: Not our plan to take away business from anyone.  This is to improve conditions for drivers.

Robel Berhan: Why are cab companies asking for more permits?  They want more permits to get more money for themselves. 

Bedada Malka: We need your help.

Ahmed Abdi: Drivers need to be issued their own plate or medallion.

Alex Grishkevich: Feels that this recommendation is a mistake

Nik Batranchuk: New company would not increase competition between companies.  Need to assign permits to drivers.  Insufficient documentation to issue more permits.

Jaldo Abino: Always Cab applicant. Disappointed. 

Nequssie Sado: Thank staff who made recommendations.  Feels that Mr. Diamond does not qualify to be on the Board.

Frank Choto: Feels new company is warranted.  Requests Revenue Bureau to proceed with driver training.

Aschalew: Please support Union Cab

Tesfaye Aleme:  Green does have demand to support more permits.  They have grown even more since the 2010 data that was provided.

Butler stated that she has heard from Board members that this shouldn’t be rushed and we need more time.  She understands but cautioned the Board about delaying a public process that began in January 2011 and not to obstruct this from going to Council who has a strong interest in this.  Butler went on to explain that she spoke to Commissioner Saltzman’s and they said the intent of the letter was to caution the Board against issuing existing permit applicants requests prior to City Council consideration to all the permit applications as a whole.  It was very clear that there was no intention to prevent the Board from making a recommendation on all the recommendations made by the Revenue Bureau.  We can start now and move forward on recommendations then schedule another meeting if needed but am open to any motions by the Board.

Dufay spoke of the data in the recommendations.  He stated that data was vetted through our Auditor’s Office.  Except for convention activity everything is up since 2004.  We haven’t issued new permits since 1998 which highlights even more how far behind we are.

Butler stated that we do want the Board to at least vote all the new company applications today.

Motion to Deny all permits to Union Cab:  Diamond

Seconded: Putman (to open discussion)

Diamond says giving permits to a select group of drivers will not benefit everyone else.  Of those 50 permits, they are to be allocated to drivers associated to other cities.  Would like information on who are owners of Union Cab.

Rinard: Conventions are not merely visitors who come to town.  Latest hotel numbers show best ever numbers in many categories including demand.  Convention numbers are a reflection of the City’s ability to host more than taxi demand.

Entler: Business plan predicated on $300 kitty, insurance costs estimates are way low, and major omissions in financial report for Union Cab.  Drivers making decision to go to Union Cab based on $300 kitty.  However, this is not a realistic amount and drivers will face higher than anticipated kitty, probably twice the amount. 

Bauhs: Concern it appears that Portland has a closed system.  City and region has grown, no company added puts us in a unfavorable situation.  In that sense she is pleased that the City is opening the door for another taxi company enter the market.

Putman: Permit fee increased not considered in business plan.  Not financially sound plan.

Foster: There is a demand for drivers for another source for the drivers to work in.  Either ignore the drivers need for another option or approve Union Cab and give them a chance.

In response to a question from Ochosa regarding the Boards authority on the applications, Butler stated that Council ultimately has the final say for the new company applications.  However, City Code gives the Board the authority to approve applications of existing companies.

Ochosa: Riding public needs change in the taxi industry in this City.  He prefers a cautious approach so as to not make driver income worse.  He doesn’t want to delay the process but would like to see more financial details prior to vote.  Needs to be a win for public and drivers.

Case:  Addressed Commissioner Saltzman’s letter: At a minimum the new taxi company needs time before additional permits are distributed to existing companies.  It appears all he is asking is to wait on recommendations prior to council.

Butler: Concern was to issue permits.  Board can make recommendations on all applications today.

Rinard: Will there be an opportunity for companies to provide updated information within this three year period of the recommendation.

Butler stated Code allows applications every six months.

Diamond: Union Cab or nothing not a good enough reason to vote for Union Cab.  Concurs with other statements regarding financial statement concerns.  Unemployment still very high, 8.9%.  Drivers will suffer economic loss if more permits are issued. CityAirportpassenger data as well.  How could there be such demand when drivers are making so little money.

Bauhs:  Board not required to adopt all recommendations on the table.

Motion Does not Carry

Motion to concur with staff for all recommendations for new companies: Corona

Seconded by: Bauhs

This motion does not include applications from existing permitted companies.

Rinard: Where does 50 permits come from?

Butler: Staff recommendation of 50 based on our understanding of minimum permits needed to satisfy code requirements and new company needs to be issued full permits up front.  City Council can decide on a different number.

Entler recused himself from this vote and comments due to potential conflict of interest.

Motion carries

 

Motion to move as all recommendations Council for first year of recommendations subject to review after first year to assess progress on reforms and changes in market and customer service: Rinard

 

Seconded by: Putman

This motion also includes resolution to taxi company operating SATs.  Either SAT operated separately or SAT permits transferred as taxi permits.

Ochosa: Has issue denying New Rose City Cab Co application.  They have been doing business for a long time.  No increases in almost 40 years.

Diamond stated he started petition for no new taxi permits.  He said he already has about 120 driver signatures and will bring it to City Council.

Motion Carries

 

Motion to issue 1-5 permits New Rose City Cab: Ochosa

Seconded by: Corona

 

Reason for denial in Revenue Bureau recommendation was due to inadequate documentation of demand.

Motion does not carry

 

5.     Adjourn

 

Motion to Adjourn:Bauhs

Seconded by: Foster

Passed Unanimously 

Meeting was adjourned at approximately 4:05pm.  The next meeting will be on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 1:30pm.

 

Minutes submitted by: 

Patrick Kramer, Regulatory Program Specialist

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