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May 29, 2013: PFHT Board Meeting Minutes

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PRIVATE FOR-HIRE TRANSPORTATION BOARD OF REVIEW

Minutes for May 29th, 2013

Call to Order: 1:30 pm

Roll Call

Board members Present: Chair Kathleen Butler, Gail Bauhs, John Case, Ramon Corona, Steve Entler, Kirk Foster, Ryan Hashagan, Brenda Hiatt, Michael Huggins, Al Ochosa, Jon Putman, and Toni Tabrizi. Absent: Veronica Rinard

Staff present: Patrick Kramer.

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

1.   Agenda

Item 4 - Proposed Administrative Rule change: CityFleet vehicle inspections should be postponed because a little more information needs to be obtained before discussing this.

Item number 8 - LPT Company and Vehicle Fees should be postponed because they did not get to this at the company standing committee meeting.

Motion to accept agenda as amended by Bauhs

Seconded by Corona

Passed Unanimously

2.   Public Comment

No members of the public came forward requesting to speak.

3.   Company Standing Committee Report- John Case

Case: Noted who was present at the May 21st meeting. Discussed the new ID sticker and the unanimous vote at the Standing Committee in favor of the sticker. Stated that police officers he’s talked to have preference for the rear vehicle sticker placement so it can be seen from a distance, just like the taxi plates.

Kramer showed the board a prototype of the sticker being proposed.

Case also discussed the proposed 12 hour limit for taxi drivers. A vote was also taken at the Standing Committee meeting in support of this change.  All six taxi companies were represented and all agreed to support this change in a unanimous vote.

 

Case spoke about background checks for company permit holders that are not already approved as drivers stating this could potentially allow a person not able to become permitted as a driver to become a company permit holder. The Standing Committee voted, and all but one person voted to approve the proposal that anyone holding a company permit meet the same standards as the drivers.

The vehicle safety inspection administrative rule change proposal was also discussed at the Standing Committee. Committee members were concerned about the cost and the ability of the CityFleet to accomplish the inspections.  No vote was taken at the standing committee.

Case stated that he was asked to clarify the status of the Fleet inspection project in terms of City support, Revenue Bureau support, and support at higher levels of City government.

Butler responded that the project is supported by the staff and management at the Revenue Bureau, as well as being an Office of Management and Finance cross functional team project.  She clarified that the goal for Regulatory staff is to arrive at the best possible consensus with industry members for for the scope of the project. Butler reiterated that original trigger for the project was the request several years ago by Kirk Foster and other company representatives to create the convenience of “one stop shopping” for inspections.

Kramer stated that in addition he has had interactions with drivers and company owners who report there have been forgeries during inspections and mechanics requiring work so that they would make additional money for completing said work. Kramer reports the City looked into the claims and felt that an unbiased inspection would eliminate these problems.

4.   Proposed Administrative Rules: CityFleet Vehicle Inspections

Entler thinks the proposed policy is not necessary to change the system and feel it isn’t “that broken”. He suggests affidavits and penalties for mechanics to ensure compliance. After taking a tour of the City shops, he had concerns about the City’s ability to perform all the inspections. He also mentioned his concerns for the new taxi cab permit fees that were raised $420 per vehicle.

Huggins states the airport has not made any decisions yet as to what they support with regards to the proposed inspection policy.

Foster would like the City to accept Tri-Met’s visual inspection form instead of trying to duplicate it. He is concerned about the cost of the inspections if the City performs them and is under the impression that at least five City mechanics should be hired to complete the work based on the funds generated by the rate increase. Foster had additional concerns about the City’s inability to handle all of the inspections and offer the drivers a waiting area. Foster would like the visual inspections and the equipment inspections consolidated, leaving only the mechanical and ADA inspection to be done with a private company. He feels most of the SAT owners would be in support of that.

 

Kramer spoke to where the money would go and how the mechanics would function.  Kramer described how normal yearly maintenance of the vehicle can be coordinated to the same time frame as the City’s inspection to ensure all is up to date and save time. Kramer states has heard reports of ASE certified mechanics only taking 10 minutes to complete their inspections.

Raye Miles is concerned about the fees going up and the logistics. She wonders if a new car that is ready to go out could get held back 4 or 6 weeks due to lengthy inspection appointments.

Steve Killough would like to have condensed inspections close to the City or the Port.

Butler mentioned that the City’s plan is to have a couple of slots open each day for vehicle replacements. Butler also mentioned that it would be preferable to also include the ODOT standards, so that limousine operators could meet that requirement with the one inspection. Butler confirmed that Revenue will continue to refine the proposal.

5.   Discussion of Proposed Code/Administrative Rule Changes

Kramer handed out the language for the proposed code changes. Butler explained the Board has 100% authority to approve the administrative rules as long as the Bureau Director also approves and signs. She informed the Board that there is a prescribed process for changing an administrative rule, and it has to be announced when a change is proposed. Today serves as that announcement.

a. Rear Vehicle decals required for LPT vehicles

Butler discussed the City’s proposal that a decal be clearly visible from the rear AND the front of the vehicle. This new decal will not replace the current decal on the front of the vehicle A discussion took place about why the decal should be placed on one side versus the other, the size of the decal and also the style/look of the decal. Butler said the decal needs to be large enough to be easily identifiable by police from a distance.

Huggins suggested that the front decal be moved to the passenger side of the vehicle.

Kramer proposed a change to the wording in the administrative rule suggesting it should state “displaying a sticker when it has been revoked or expired will create a penalty.” This would force drivers to remove the sticker when revoked or expired. The expiration date will be on a separate small decal next to the larger decal.

Wed June 19th a public testimony meeting has been scheduled to discuss this proposed change.

There was a motion by Putman to amend the agenda to insert an item for immediate discussion as item 5 a, and asked for an update about the Port of Portland lifting of the moratorium on new taxi permits to operate at the airport .

Seconded by Case

Passed Unanimously

Discussion item, a verbal report, was added as item 5 a.  The original item 5 was amended to be item 5 b.

a. Report on taxi permits at the airport

Huggins updated the permit process for taxi companies to operate from the airport. In late 90’s the airport put a temporary moratorium for all PFHT vehicles. As of late, only the taxis were still under this moratorium. Just over a week ago they lifted the moratorium for all PFHT vehicles.

b. 12 hour maximum for taxi, executive sedan, shuttle and SAT drivers

Butler outlined the proposal to bring the maximum driving hours down from 14 hours to 12 hours for drivers. The City council will have to make the Code change decision. Butler discussed the current Code for LPT and taxi drivers. The Code change being proposed would change the language from 14 hours to 12 hours in a 24 hour period regardless of whether they take a break or not. This 24 hour period starts when the driver signs in to start his/her shift. Taxi, executive sedan and shuttle companies will provide monthly reports to the City. For the SATs and limos, the language requires reports to be provided upon request. Also discussed was the ability for a company to grant each driver with a 1 hour grace period to complete a trip that starts prior to the end of their 12 hour shift. Alternatively, limousine drivers are regulated by the FMSCA and ODOT with a weekly hourly restriction, they could follow those restrictions instead.

Hiatt is concerned about cutting two more hours from the driver’s ability to earn a living. Brenda wants to know how this will affect a split shift and how does this apply to SAT vehicles? It is her understanding that SAT drivers are working as taxi drivers outside of the City of Portland, picking up fares between

calls. Hiatt is also concerned about companies being forced to monitor the hours of the drivers, even though the drivers are considered independent contractors. Butler noted that companies are currently required to keep track of their driver’s hours.

Entler discussed the issues that came up in the past when his company was required to report their driver’s time. He was concerned about drivers or companies being penalized when a driver forgets to log out of their terminal for the night. Entler suggested there should be some language in the rules that require a driver to report when they are working. Entler questioned the notion of a grace period, noting that the regulations should be clear.

Bauhs is concerned that limiting drivers to 12 hour shifts could make it difficult to fulfill certain calls for service, but did state that only a very few number of trips occur whereby a driver or vehicle stays with one passenger for longer than a 12 hour shift.

 

Ochosa asked if there have been any issues with taxi drivers working longer than 12 hours? Several members of the Board and audience mentioned that accidents have indeed been associated with drivers working longer than 12 hours, and, in Portland, at least one passenger fatality has been associated with the long driver hours.

Butler reiterated that, in addition to safety, there is also the goal of trying to maximize utilization of taxis and to allow small companies to use the taxis for more than one shift in a 24-hour period.

Foster was also concerned about how this change would affect SAT drivers on long, out-of-town trips. It would require the driver to spend the night in a hotel because there are not enough hours to return to Portland and it would keep an SAT vehicles out of service.

Hiatt was concerned about the number of drivers that will begin going outside of the City of Portland to work after their 12 hour shift is complete in Portland.

Kadir Wako brought up concerns about the 12 hour rule and how this affects the many drivers that now work split shifts. Shuttle drivers have long gaps between trips and the split shifts might be important to them. Wako made the point that safety regarding shift length should be the same for the shuttle and taxi drivers.

Tesfaye Aleme agrees with the proposed 12 hour limit but also wants it to be the same for everyone. Entler stated that for his company, getting drivers to work more than 8 or 9 hours is difficult and the 12

hour rule should not be a problem for him.

Hiatt would like the City to look at ODOT’s language with regards to split shifts and 24 hour periods. Brenda brought up the possibility of requiring taxis to use a DOT log book.

Tesfaye Aleme thinks spot checks would be a good enforcement tool. He brings up that a typical shift for a shuttle varies from that of taxis, SATs and limousines.

c. Proposed Code Change: Background checks for company owners and managers

This proposal would required that company owners and managers be held to the same standards with regard to related disqualifying factors as are the drivers.

Hiatt stated that the owners/managers should be required to report any possible disqualifying factor within

24 hours. It was noted that requirements for reporting criminal issues are currently in Code.

Hashagan agrees that the company should be accountable for ensuring that they have provided contact

 

information for business hours and are available by phone.

There was discussion of the process for approval when disqualifying factors exist.

6. Staff Update: Rose Shuttle Application

Butler noted that staff is not prepared to make a final recommendation on this application. Information has been requested from Island Coach, as part of the investigation, but the information has not been forthcoming. The staff recommendation is to postpone action. Tabrizi asked whether the penalties for illegally selling or leasing a permit would apply to both parties, the company and the driver involved, and Butler responded that is generally the correct approach, as both driver and company are required to abide by all City (and State and federal) regulations.

7. Enforcement Report

Kramer reports he and Dufay conducted on-street inspections during prom season and did find a number of unpermitted limousine operators on two evenings. A more thorough report will follow when Dufay returns from his leave.

Slavic Karkhu brought up the problem with Vancouver cabs working in the area in the evenings and asked for more enforcement.

Butler reiterated that plate numbers, and details of time and pickup are always appreciated, and mentioned that this is particularly important because taxis that merely drive through the City or drop off are not necessarily in violation of City Code. Proof of performing Portland pick-up is generally required for a penalty. Butler also mentioned that with new enforcement resources on board, training for more street enforcement will begin soon.

8. LPT Company and Vehicle Fees

Discussion of this item was postponed.

9. Flat Rates from the Airport, Shuttle Rates

Butler: The City is looking for input from taxi drivers/companies on what the new flat rate from the airport to downtown should be. Kramer described report showing calculations from various locations to the airport.

Butler mentioned that fare complaints are more common from the airport than other locations, and mentioned that the Travel Portland is in favor of a flat rate from the airport. The Board discussed the

 

calculations and some details of the flat rate calculations, but the general consensus that no particular flat rate should be proposed prior to hearing from the drivers. It was suggested that a public hearing be convened specifically to hear the suggestions of drivers related to a flat rate to the airport.

10.      Board Member Comments/Announcements

Entler asked if the City has a position on requiring all companies to have credit card machines in all cars. Butler responded that the City recommends that all taxis have this right now because it’s great customer service, but it is not a requirement yet. Companies should, however, understand that this is likely to be required in the near future as part of the company performance standards.

Hiatt mentioned that once Broadway put in backseat credit card machines, the drivers noticed a 95% reduction in calls about lost credit cards in cars, and drivers reported that their tips increased. She supports all cars having these machines.

Tesfaye Aleme said the chargeback rate is very low with backseat machines and they are very efficient. Entler would like a standard credit card and/or debit card convenience fee and recommends a fee of no more than .50 cents per transaction.

Case would like to have a discussion of tour buses and the fact that they are not ADA accessible. Butler stated that this item would be added for discussion to the next Board agenda. 

11.     Adjourn

Meeting was adjourned at approximately 4:45pm. The next meeting will be Wednesday July 24th, 2013

Minutes submitted by:

Christy Keller, Regulatory Program Specialist

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