San Francisco’s Yellow Cab files for bankruptcy

SAN FRANCSICO (CNNMoney) —The largest taxi company in San Francisco has filed for bankruptcy. Yellow Cab Cooperative, which is made up of 300 owners and operators with more than 500 cabs, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday.

It’s been a rough few years for traditional taxi companies, as they’ve struggled to keep with ride-hailing startups Uber and Lyft. Yellow Cab appears to be dealing with even more pressing financial issues. In the court filings, Yellow Cab said it is handling around 150 ongoing liability claims stemming from taxi accidents.

The company was found liable for $8 million last June after a Yellow Cab crashed and left a passenger partially paralyzed.

Yellow Cab argued that the driver was entirely responsible for the crash because he was an independent contractor. The argument echoed Uber and Lyft’s own approaches to drivers, though it’s unclear if similar lawsuits would have the same impact on the ride-hailing companies.

A year ago, Yellow Cab of Chicago also filed for bankruptcy because of a crash-related lawsuit. The company was found liable for $26 million after a passenger suffered brain damage in a crash.

San Francisco’s Yellow Cab collective is not stopping service. You’ll still be able to spot, and maybe hail, a Yellow Cab in San Francisco. It says business is still strong and that it averages 15,000 fares a day in the city. The chapter 11 filing will allow it to restructure its debts, it said in a statement.

As ride-hailing startups have gained traction, traditional cabs have tried to imitate their technology. They’ve turned to companies like Flywheel, a ride-hailing app just for taxis that came out three years ago. One of the San Francisco’s oldest cab companies, DeSoto Cabs, rebranded its entire fleet of cars as Flywheel Taxis last year.

Yellow Cab recently released its own ride-hailing app called Yo Taxi.

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Yellow Cab San Francisco The largest taxi company in Uber and Lyft’s hometown prepares to file bankruptcy?

The largest taxi company in Uber and Lyft’s hometown prepares to file bankruptcy

Yanan WangThe Washington Post

“Hailing a cab” once meant stretching an arm out toward a city’s open streets and attracting the attention of a ubiquitous yellow car. But the phrase and accompanying gesture have since been retired in favor of its digital substitute: fumbling for a phone in a pocket to “get an Uber.”

The clearest sign of the ride-hailing app’s growing dominance came this week, as the San Francisco Examiner reported that the largest taxi company in the city where Uber is headquartered is on the verge of filing for bankruptcy.

Yellow Cab Co-Op, which serves San Francisco, is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to a letter to shareholders obtained by the Examiner.

“We are in a midst of serious financial setbacks,” wrote Yellow Cab President Pamela Martinez. “Some are due to business challenges beyond our control and others are of our own making. Today we are faced with fiscal obligations that far exceed expected income.”

The letter is dated Dec. 10, 2015, just two days after Martinez replaced former Yellow Cab president James Gillespie, who remains the company’s general manager. It stated that documents were being prepared for the bankruptcy filing to move forward “within a month” – in other words, any time now.

Yellow Cab is a cooperative co-owned by 300 shareholders who haven’t received dividends since October, Gillespie told the Examiner. It transports over 5 million passengers every year.

While Martinez iterated in the letter that “Yellow is still the best taxi brand in San Francisco,” she conceded, “We used to have more [passengers] and our goal is to get them and even more back. . . . We must get the public to smile when they think of Yellow Cab and the way to that goal is to be more welcoming and responsive by making an extra effort, no matter the obstacles, to ensure that this happens.”

Neither Uber nor Lyft is mentioned by name in the statement, but the two ride-hailing services loom large over Yellow Cab’s troubles.

For instance, Martinez noted the “need to have not just more drivers but drivers who are happy to be behind the wheel” – possibly a subtle nod to the high pay, frequent bonuses and flexibility that Uber drivers are supposed to enjoy, all while offering riders more affordable prices. A year ago, Uber released internal data showing that its drivers in San Francisco make an average of $23 an hour, compared to slightly less than $14 for traditional taxi drivers and chauffeurs.

This report has been criticized for neglecting to factor in the costs of gas, car insurance and vehicle maintenance associated with driving one’s own car. That hasn’t stopped its driver base from growing exponentially, though most of its workforce (two-thirds, as of last year) have at least one other part-time job in addition to driving an Uber car.

Is Yellow Cab Uber’s “first casualty,” as Forbes has proposed? While other taxi businesses, such as the original Yellow Cab Company in Chicago and 22 companies in New York, have also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, none carry as much symbolic weight as the biggest company in Uber and Lyft’s hometown.

Competition aside, the Yellow Cab has also been stymied by a June 2015 court ruling that found the company liable for injuries incurred by a passenger who was riding one of its vehicles.

In a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle, Gillepsie attributed Yellow Cab’s current financial situation to the “unusual number of accident claims” that the company has recently had to confront.

Speaking with the Examiner, Gillespie pointed to the case of Ida Fua, a 28-year-old attorney who was riding a Yellow Cab home from the airport when her driver failed to notice traffic in front of them and struck a stopped vehicle at 60 to 65 mph. The crash left Fua paralyzed on one side of her body, suffering from brain trauma and unable to work, and her lawyer argued that Yellow Cab was responsible for the driver’s actions.

While the taxi company countered that it merely provides vehicles and a dispatch service and does not directly employ drivers, a California Superior Court judge ruled that because the driver was an “ostensible employee,” Yellow Cab should pay $8 million in damages.

“If the filing is necessary, we expect to be in a stronger position than before the filing,” Gillespie told the Chronicle.

Cameras in Taxi Cabs: A Must

By: Sparky

camera in taxi

As I scan across America and other lands what I see from the camera’s eye in almost every case of death or injury, the same thing happens to the driver, they sit there and say nothing or don’t hit back, thing have changed in the taxi world. Untrained cab drivers, owners don’t give a shit and send drivers out with little or no training. They ( ride along ) for a few hours learn not how a meter works, ask any driver you see today, or yourself and once they can turn the radio on you guessed it they are taxi drivers. All the hell they know what to do is stay out there for 12 hours fill up the car and drive back to the shop and hand over $135.00 or whatever that pie in the sky greedy dollar amount is. Oh yes and what is left for you the driver, after taxes are kept in the bank for that happy 15 of April every year. What you don’t do that, I know but what bothers me more than that is that everyone we see, on the street in the mall, at a cafe or bar, church I heard a speaker say that 68% of the American people have less than $500.00 dollars in there bank account. I don’t know about you but there are going to be some scary crap going down very soon looks out for it.

Today, yes it is me in real life, not like a real estate salesman and when they come there in a walker and look 90.

I was watching a clip how a suspect was hitting a driver over and over and I thought to myself what would I have done. How would I have dealt with this differently? I am thinking knowing that it was coming perhaps, not a hands in front of me injection put perhaps a fast hit in the throat. I mean there you go it is over and while they are gasping for air a good kick in the face as you call 911 and report a suspected robbery suspect in custody, but you feel that they try and run on you. Look as bad as we make other drivers feel we are real bad , as in I mean real street wise bad, most 80% of us are not, we just don’t know what to do when we are presented with anger and fear, and life threatening thoughts, so we need to deal with them before they get out of control. I am the one of 20% that you can drop me off at midnight anywhere in the world, and I will be a survivable cab driver, and most likely like it I am not afraid of the dark and seemly calm streets, they are not they can be become ex-stream loud and scarier in a heartbeat, if this ever happens to you do this, stop, very calm just say this, hey look guys, there are times in our lives that sometimes we just don’t want to be her, no disrespect but I want to just walk away . If you are lucky they will just mess with you lightly.

I have made a choice for you, the 80% that don’t think they would know what to do if someone threatens them: tried to harm them with: words: a knife: and or a gun: and or hit them.

This is what you need to do today, this weekend, go by any place that teaches karate or kick boxing, or just boxing and just walk up to them and tell them the truth. You do not have to become a four year black belt, tell them you want to just learn how to hit them, hard they will show you, and fast. They will teach you how to and what to tell people that want to harm you: they will teach your hands on how to hit a person: they will teach you how to defend your self’s and how to give them some money so that they will leave your cab: all you haft to do is to tell them your job. I am a taxi cab driver and that I am scared of what may happen and I do not know what to do if that happens, and puff: your dreams are answer and you will feel a lot more safe trust me and you will hit a person that tries to harm you, you will feel like you are more in charge and better than the people that you pick up as far as defending yourself. Look there are some very bad people out there and you need this edge and if you meet the wrong person that hits harder and faster and just don’t care if they hurt you or not, that no matter what you say or do, here they come at you. You will know what to do at that point, also relax, it is all good don’t you enjoy the rush, yet? Well, hang on you are in for a ride.

  • Do not say anything.
  • Do not yell at them.
  • Give them what they want.

If they want money, I told you what to do, have a fake wallet, have $20.00 in it showing, give them that, tell them you just came on duty, they just want out of there.

Cameras in the cabs are cheap protection for any one that has a problem, and talk about it or not if I get killed out there at 3:30 am there will be pictures of the killer for their arrest, thank god. If there is a robbery in the cab the pictures may give that person 6 years in prison to think about it. My reason for all cab drivers to get the training they need to protect themselves is to help stop this insanity of cab heist all for what $20.00 / $50.00 or 6 years in prison and to tell the bad guys, hey we fight back, don’t try and rob us you will get caught.

Here is what not to do:

  • Who not to stop for
  • what to look out for
  • how do exit the cab
  • How to stay calm
  • Defense driving