Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Marcelo Fonseca's letter regarding California Public Utilities Commission's proposed decision on TNCs

From: Marcelo Fonseca
To: Medallion Holders Network New Infotaxi
Sent: Tuesday, September 03, 2013 11:44 AM
Subject: [infotaxi] CPUC - Proposed Decision on TNCs

Governor Jerry Brown
Senator Leland Yee
Senator Mark Leno
Senator Jerry Hill
Senator Mark DeSaulnier
Assembly Member Paul Fong
Assembly Member Philip Ting
Assembly Member Kevin Mullin
Speaker Pro Tempore Nora Campos
Assembly Member Richard Gordon

CPUC Public Advisor
President Michael Peevey
ALJ Robert Mason III

The CPUC will vote on a proposed decision from President-Commissioner
Michael Peevey and ALJ Robert Mason this coming Sep 5th. This proposed
decision is regarding the rule-making process on the
New-Online-Enabled-Transportation-Services like Uber, Lyft and SideCar, now
referred to as TNCs, Transportation-Network-Companies.

As a full-time San Francisco taxi driver for almost 25 years, I would like
to say that this rule-making process, from the very beginning, was
structured to provide cover for the approval of these services. The Safety &
Enforcement Division (SED) prematurely approved TNC's misleading operations,
unfairly competing with an already established taxi industry. An open entry
for TCP licenses allowed everybody and their brother to start driving for a
living, turning San Francisco into a small town where TNC drivers and taxi
drivers fight over dwindling fares, posing great danger to the public.

A new category of public transportation, with light regulatory treatment has
been given to Uber, Lyft and SideCar without any justification. The use of
smartphone applications, which cab companies already have, seems to be the
reason for the CPUC to propose regulations in a significantly and
fundamentally different manner from taxis.

The CPUC has failed to recognize the true nature of the TNC's operations and
the true nature of their business models as TNCs use contract language that
essentially requires all passengers and drivers to "waive all claims".

This proposed decision to use drivers without commercial licenses in private
cars, less regulated than carriers using professional drivers and commercial
vehicles should not be accepted. It contradicts the Commission's mandate to
protect the public. This segment on KTVU - Channel 2 News has been aired
over and over again, showing how the public is at danger when unmarked
vehicles roam the streets soliciting rides with impunity.

For the CPUC to exercise jurisdiction over Uber, Lyft and SideCar, operating
in San Francisco as taxis, the Commission should not grant these tech-cab
companies any special privileges nor any special treatments. To protect the
public's welfare, jointly with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation
Agency (SFMTA), the CPUC should require all TNCs to comply with the same
rules and regulations taxis must follow.

If you read this commentary by Attorney Veena Dubal, a doctoral candidate in
the jurisprudence and social policy program at UC Berkeley, you will agree
that this particular proposed decision by the CPUC has to be rejected.

When we taxi drivers, residents of California, feel pushed out of work
unfairly and illegally by a silly pink moustache and a simple phone app, it
is natural to commiserate with the frustration of our fellow driver Trevor
Johnson from the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association (SFCDA) shown in this
NBC report. (

When we taxi drivers read articles about legislators moving to rein in the
CPUC, where lawmakers refer to the Commission as a "FIEFDOM", ...
...and even more so, when taxi drivers become aware of President Peevey's
travels, being wined and dined on lobbyists dimes,
we become pessimistic about a fair ruling on the TNCs and we see our trust
in our elected/appointed officials totally undermined.

In the middle of this crisis, as we still wait for answers about the San
Mateo Bridge limousine fire that killed five young women, we just hope the
CPUC will not rush to vote in this proposed decision that will leave Uber,
Lyft and SideCar to govern themselves.

Questionable enough, our very own San Francisco Mayor, Mr. Ed Lee has
endorsed the bandit tech-cab companies, facilitating unfair competition and
driving the San Francisco taxi industry into to dire straits. Sadly enough,
our City Attorney's Office and our Board of Supervisors have been silent on
the issue.

In the taxi industry we have always feared the City of San Francisco and the
State of California becoming too vulnerable and too susceptible to Silicon
Valley's money. As law and order collapse on the streets of San Francisco
with the influx of bandit-tech-cabs, one can easily presume that cab
drivers' fears are becoming cab drivers' worse nightmares.

I urge you to look into this proposed decision with all of your resources.
Public safety and the livelihoods of thousands of taxi drivers should not be
jeopardized by the CPUC's favoritism in this ruling on Uber, Lyft and

Thank you very much for your consideration of this matter.

Marcelo Fonseca
24-year career cab driver