SF cab drivers protest credit card fees

May 3, 2011 7:59:21 PM PDT
If you found it harder than usual to find a cab in San Francisco Tuesday, it was probably because scores of taxi drivers were at City Hall staging a horn-honking demonstration to protest two changes the Municipal Transportation Agency is implementing.

The MTA, which oversees the city's taxicabs, is now requiring that all cab companies give customers the option of paying their fare with cash or a credit card. The 5 percent credit card processing fee is the responsibility of the driver, who is not allowed to pass that expense on to customers. Drivers say this leaves little room for them to make a living, especially with the price of gas skyrocketing.

The owner of Luxor Cabs says his guys are struggling

"I've seen BART go up, I've seen Muni go up, shuttles go up, airport fees, what about taxis?" John Lazar said.

To add insult to injury, fares, which start at $3.10, have not gone up in seven years. Muni is now considering allowing drivers to tack on and additional fare of 10 cents per every one-fifth of a mile and another 10 cents each one-fifth of a mile for gas.

Cabbies are also complaining about what is called an "electronic way bill" that Muni now wants implemented. It is a new tracking system the cab companies must install to record every transaction the drivers make. The technology stores personal information about the cabbies and they worry that data could be compromised.

"You want us to be independent contractors so you don't have to pay us the benefits, but on the other hand you want to make us employees by tracking every move we make," cab driver Mychael Monroe said.

Muni has decided to hold a series of town hall meetings on the issue as well as a public hearing May 17.

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