Below is an outstanding letter which MHA Board member Marcelo Fonseca sent last night to various recipients including CBS News' "60 Minutes." It’s preceded by links to some relevant documents.
Application of TPAC for ReHearing of D.13-09-045.pdf
R.12-12-011 - Uber Application for Rehearing of Decision 13-09-045.pdf
Uber article by Molly Cohen.pdf
From: Marcelo Fonseca, Monday, March 17, 2014
Subject: The Fight For Fares In San Francisco!!
Executive Director Kevin Tedesco
CBS News - 60 Minutes
New York - NY
Board of Supervisors
City Attorney's Office
Mayor Edwin Lee
Governor Jerry Brown
Senator Jerry Hill
Senator Leland Yee
Senator Mark Leno
Senator Mark DeSaulnier
Assembly Member Philip Ting
Assembly Member Paul Fong
Assembly Member Kevin Mullin
Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal
Speaker Pro Tempore Nora Campos
CPUC Public Advisor
President Michael Peevey
ALJ Robert Mason III
It has been more than three months since I wrote you the letter below
urging you to look into how our municipal and state governments have handled the
influx of Uber, Lyft, SideCar and the impact they have had on the taxi
industry. Since a lot has happened involving these services, here and
acrossthe country, I am writing to you again, not only as a career taxi driver
as a concerned citizen.
On New Year's Eve, UberX driver Syed Muzzaffar struck and killed
six-year-old Sofia Liu, also injuring her mother and five-year-old brother
in a crosswalk in San Francisco.
Maybe such a tragedy could have been avoided. Even though it was ten years
ago, Mr. Muzzaffar had a previous conviction for reckless driving in
Florida. It is hard to say if Mr. Muzzaffar would pass the screening to
get a license to drive a taxi in San Francisco but it is reasonable to wonder
if Uber ever bothered to check his DMV records.
Playing judge, jury and executioner of the taxi industry throughout a
rule-making process on Uber, Lyft and SideCar now referred to as
Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), the California Public Utilities
Commission (CPUC), once referred to by a legislator as a "FIEFDOM",
contradicting its mandate to protect the public, ignored warnings about
faulty insurance and blessed TNCs to continue operations with minimal
oversight, unfairly competing with legitimate taxis.
Labor on wheels was made available to anyone with a car to operate as an
on-demand taxi. Thousands and thousands of private, unmarked,
personally-insured vehicles were dumped on our already-congested streets
to ferry people around for profit. None of these vehicles performing taxi
services in the City and County of San Francisco are under the
of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).
An open entry to an unlimited number of TNCs turned the streets of San
Francisco into a very dangerous, free-for-all environment. A frenzied race
for fares intensified to a ridiculous level. No speed limit, no insurance,
no rules, no regulations, no SFPD, no problem. Come on down!!!
A lot of our hotels, on a daily basis, turn down taxis to push their
guests into town cars just sitting in the taxi zones, clearly not operating on a
prearranged basis. It is safe to say that rides are being negotiated
between corrupt doormen and limo drivers and the CPUC's Safety and Enforcement
Division (SED) is nowhere to be found.
Some TNCs will claim to be peers of the community. In fact, some of their
easy-to-spot vehicles, sometimes with as many as three smart phones on
their dashboards, come from as far away as New Jersey. I and many of my fellow
cab drivers have lived in San Francisco from 30-40 years and have been driving
taxis for a lot longer than many TNCs' drivers have been living. What are
we in this community???
With insurance gaps yet to be solved here and elsewhere,
the City of Chicago, after being sued by taxi organizations for aiding
TNCs, has issued subpoenas to UberX, Lyft and SideCar demanding proof of
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray stated that Uber has to start accepting a certain
level of regulation and have to be insured at a level commensurate with
A City Panel was expected to endorse a cap on the number of TNCs on the
road, the number of hours they can drive and demand proper insurance.
As expected, Uber launched an aggressive and sleazy campaign to sway
In San Francisco, quite to the contrary of Seattle's position on TNCs,
Mayor Ed Lee has embraced Uber, Lyft and SideCar since the very beginning of
their encroachment on the San Francisco taxi industry, praising them as
"innovative-ride-share-services" and proclaiming July 13 "Lyft Day".
Through Mayoral Spokeswoman Christine Falvey, after a Board of
Supervisors' Services and Safety Committee hearing on TNCs on March 6,
Mayor Ed Lee once again ignoring 7,000+ cab drivers potentially going
unemployed and several cab companies potentially going broke, praised TNCs
for the opportunities of employment they provide to San Franciscans.
I do have a constitutional right to criticize the government and I am. If
it is OK for our mayor to ignore the San Francisco taxi industry as a "City
Asset" and facilitate unfair competition, if it is OK for the president of
the most powerful state regulatory agency to be flown, wined and dined on
and if it is OK for our legislators and law enforcement agencies to just
stand idly by and watch public transportation cannibalize itself as public
safety is being jeopardized...
.I have to question if the core values of our democracy and the
credibility of our government have been undermined by the venture capital
and the lobbying going around ???!!!
I feel disappointed and disillusioned with how our municipal and state
governments have handled this matter, letting down a one-hundred-year-old
"regulated" taxi industry to support a business model that thrives on
deceiving the public and keeping their commercial activities secret from
their insurance carriers.
In the name of innovation, under the lies of ride-sharing, under the
mantle of a sharing economy and in some kind of mockery of the taxi industry,
TNCs have ruthlessly trespassed on public transportation all across the
country, sharing its riches but not sharing its responsibilities.
If this corporate greed is not addressed and if the irresponsibility and
recklessness of cities and regulatory agencies continue to allow the
uncontrolled proliferation of these regulatory-free-environments, the
public at large will continue to get hurt and bear the costs of their injuries
Attorney Chris Dolan from The Dolan Law Firm, firstname.lastname@example.org
415-421-2800, who represents the Liu family as it relates to the death of
Sofia Liu, provided extensive comments to the CPUC regarding potential
legal issues before its ruling on TNCs in September 2013. I believe he can
further assist you regarding this issue.
I urge you again to look into this matter which should be of great
interest nation-wide. The chain of events that led to the death of young Sofia Liu
should not be ignored by anyone.
Thank you very much for your time.
Subject: Uber, Lyft & SideCar vs Taxis - An Epic Turf War?
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 2013 20:44:03 -0800
CBS News - 60 Minutes
524 West 57th Street
New York - NY
In recent years we've had an influx of app developers selling rides to
anybody with a car, providing on-demand taxi services to anybody in need
of transportation. Start-ups like Uber, Lyft and SideCar, in a
regulatory-free environment, have multiplied at an unbelievable rate, unfairly competing
with legitimate, regulated taxis. XXXXXXXX (REDACTED)
As San Francisco CBS' Mark Kelly reported on Sept, 19th, 2013, the
California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), based on a recommendation
from President Michael Peevey and Administrative Law Judge Robert Mason,
voted in a proposed decision allowing these services, referred to as
Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), to continue their operations.
Get into your private car, download an app and go into business, has
become the public transportation model adopted by the CPUC. In San Francisco,
there are more TNCs under the wings of the CPUC than there are legitimate
taxicabs under the SFMTA's jurisdiction.
Seemingly, billionaire venture capitalists and their lobbyists from
Silicon Valley's influential tech community cleverly used social media advocacy to
influence government decisions. Apparently Facebook and Twitter
firestorms, in a change.org petition, persuaded our elected and appointed officials to
succumb to public pressure. Rather than making an objective legal
decision, the CPUC bowed to Uber, Lyft, and SideCar, lifting a cease-and-desist
order long before the ruling on Sept, 19th, 2013.
In the Uber article attached, Ms. Molly Cohen, a Juris Doctor candidate at
Harvard Law School, clearly expresses what Uber fans, citizens of the
start-up nation, accomplished in Boston through social media advocacy,
forcing Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to reverse a decision from
the Division of Standards. The original decision had blocked Uber's use of
unapproved devices. Unfortunately, a similar situation has unfolded here
The taxi industry, led by the Taxicab Paratransit Association of
California (TPAC), is challenging the CPUC decision (see attachment). Also, attorneys
from different law firms are suing Uber on the basis of unfair business
practices. In other states, the taxi industry is litigating against Uber,
Lyft and SideCar on a variety of legal issues.
TNCs still ferry people around for profit in their personally insured
vehicles, keeping their commercial business operations secret from their
insurance companies, knowingly deceiving the public. San Francisco cab
drivers report their license plates to the San Francisco Cab Drivers
Association (SFCDA) who then report them to the Personal Insurance
Federation of California (PIFC) which has shown concerns over the CPUC
regulations. Please, check the following links on the confusion and
secrecy over insurance:
In the following article, legislators referred to the CPUC as a "FIEFDOM"
they moved to rein in the Commission, taking steps to force the regulatory
agency to justify how it spends its money. It is alarming to read about
lax attitude toward safety.
This television segment shows CPUC President Michael Peevey's integrity
being questioned as he is reported to have been flown, wined and dined on
As a career cab driver, 30-year San Francisco resident and citizen
registered to vote, this matter deeply concerns me. The thought of having
our appointed/elected officials owned by lobbyists or the thought of them
being in office just to fool us into believing we have freedom of choice
When cab drivers see their incomes drop 50% after the CPUC's unfair
facilitating unfair competition, it's very easy to assume that big,
businesses own and control everything. A
"money-to-money-and-shit-to-the-dummy" attitude seems to be the policy
adopted these days.
In his State of the City Address in 2013, Mayor Ed Lee embraced SideCar
Lyft as "ride-share services". A lot has been written and a lot has been
said about this "sharing economy" and these rogue "ride-sharing" car
services. Nobody is sharing anything with anybody; everybody is just
to make a buck. The questions are: 1) Is San Francisco big enough for all
these services?? 2) Can our local government make it safe for the public??
3) Can our local government level the playing field of competition?? We
drivers sure hope so!!
As I urge you to investigate these changes in public transportation in San
Francisco and how our government handles it, I share with you the letters
below which I wrote to Governor Jerry Brown, several Senators and Assembly
Members in Sacramento. I trust your powerful investigative reporting
journalism can shed light on this matter, bringing awareness to people in
need of public transportation in San Francisco and across the country.
Following are names of individuals and parties who can assist you further
Taxicab Paratransit Association Of California (TPAC)
TPAC Attorneys - Marron Law Firm
Paul Marron, Steve Rice, Jamie Laurent
President of Yellow Cab Coop - San Francisco
President of Desoto Cab Company - San Francisco
General Manager of Luxor Cab Company - San Francisco
Deputy Director of Taxis and Accessible Services
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)
President of Medallion Holders Association (MHA)
President of San Francisco Cab Drivers Association (SFCDA)
President of Green Cab Company - San Francisco
Thank you in advance for looking into this.
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Subject: CPUC - Proposed Decision on TNCs
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2013 20:09:47 -0800
Governor Jerry Brown
Senator Leland YeeSenator Mark LenoSenator Jerry HillSenator Mark
DeSaulnierAssembly Member Bonnie LowenthalAssembly Member Paul
Member Philip TingAssembly Member Kevin MullinSpeaker Pro Tempore Nora
CamposCC/CPUC Public AdvisorPresident Michael PeeveyALJ Robert Mason III
It's been more than two months since I wrote you the letter below, urging
you to look into a proposed decision from CPUC President Michael Peevey
ALJ Robert Mason regarding the rule-making process on Uber, Lyft and
SideCar, now referred to as TNCs - Transportation Network Companies.
As you know, on Sept 19th, President Peevey's recommendations were voted
unanimously, allowing TNCs to continue their operations.
Shrouded in controversy and secrecy, this proposed decision changes the
definition of on-demand into pre-arranged, creating a new and
lightly-regulated taxi service in San Francisco. Seemingly secret
have been signed with Uber, Lyft and SideCar, exempting these services
following the same rules and regulations legitimate San Francisco taxis
Regarding proof of commercial insurance, driver background checks and
vehicle inspections, no one knows how these polices will be implemented
since the CPUC's Safety and Enforcement Division does not have enough
manpower to enforce them, leaving these companies to govern themselves.
TNC's venture capitalists and their lobbyists from Silicon Valley's
influential tech community spent thousands, if not millions, on their
PR campaigns to portray these tech-cab companies as the very best solution
for Californians in need of transportation. A change.org petition filled
CPUC Public Advisor's Inbox to persuade the Commission to legitimize their
operations and, sure enough, the cease-and-desist orders on those services
were inexplicably lifted.
Under the lie of ride-sharing and under the mantle of a sharing-economy,
Uber, Lyft and SideCar have used every legal contortion and every
sleight-of-hand not to be defined as taxicabs.
One of the attachments annexed shows that Uber recently appealed the
decision, seeking for rehearing, still trying not to be under the
Commission's jurisdiction as a transportation company.
Without any regard to necessary regulatory oversight nor in any accordance
with safety principles, these TNCs make innovation synonymous to deceit
theft as they jeopardize public safety, robbing cab drivers blind and
driving the San Francisco taxi industry into a dead end.
This current situation in San Francisco demands urgent action from
legislators and law enforcement. The passing of this proposed decision has
opened the flood gates to abuse, exploitation of the public, anarchy and
lawlessness as taxi drivers and TNC drivers cut each other off, fighting
over fares, turning the streets of San Francisco into a NASCAR race track.
Not long ago I drove two ladies from Castro and Market Streets back to the
Hilton Hotel - Union Square. Upon arrival they were very surprised that on
my meter, it was less than 15 dollars. I was not surprised as they went on
to tell me that they were walked into a Town Car by the doorman and paid
dollars cash for the same trip.
Almost every hotel in San Francisco has turned their taxi zones into
permanent limo parking lots; every doorman seems to be negotiating rides
with Town Car drivers and the Safety and Enforcement Division is nowhere
Another instance of how rules and regulations are necessary is this case
a Lyft driver stalking his female passenger, reported by the Valleywag:
I am aware of Senate Bill #SB338 that requires modified limousines to have
two readily accessible and fully charged fire extinguishers,
introduced/co-authored by Senators Hill, DeSaulnier, Yee and Assembly
Members Campos, Fong, Mullin and Ting.
Unfortunately this bill will not bring back the five young women killed in
the San Mateo Bridge limo fire; nevertheless it serves as an example of
urgent it is to have TNCs heavily regulated before another tragedy occurs.
The potential inability of cities to effectively supply and regulate taxis
in the face of unlimited and unfair competition is an issue of great
concern. The TPAC - Taxicab Paratransit Association of California has also
appealed this CPUC decision, clearly challenging it due to concerns about
the Environmental Quality Act, TNCs engaging in taxicab transportation
services and the CPUC's jurisdiction over TNCs. (See attachment annexed).
I have argued throughout this whole process that TNCs providing fee-based
transportation services within the City and County of San Francisco should
be under the SFMTA's jurisdiction. I have also argued that TNCs are not
ride-sharing companies and therefore should be regulated as taxis. You can
see/hear my argument in this news segment on CBS in a square-off against
"ride-selling" companies at a CPUC meeting on Sept 5th:
Every year prior to elections, we get our mail boxes filled with brochures
from politicians praising themselves as they ask for our votes. Yesterday,
at a municipal level, I chose not to support any of the propositions Mayor
Ed Lee and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsome support. After the passing of
this proposed decision by the CPUC that unleashes an all-out assault on
San Francisco taxi industry, facilitating unfair competition, I wonder who
cab drivers will choose to vote for in the next state level election.
I sure hope you will look into this proposed decision from the CPUC with
of your resources and keep the playing field of competition leveled.
Jerry BrownSenator Leland YeeSenator Mark LenoSenator Jerry HillSenator
Mark DeSaulnierAssembly Member Paul FongAssembly Member Philip
TingAssembly Member Kevin MullinSpeaker Pro Tempore Nora CamposAssembly
Member Richard GordonCC/CPUC Public AdvisorPresident Michael PeeveyALJ
Robert Mason IIIThe CPUC will vote on a proposed decision from
President-CommissionerMichael Peevey and ALJ Robert Mason this coming Sep
5th. This proposeddecision is regarding the rule-making process on
theNew-Online-Enabled-Transportation-Services like Uber, Lyft and SideCar,
nowreferred to as TNCs, Transportation-Network-Companies.As a full-time
San Francisco taxi driver for almost 25 years, I would liketo say that
this rule-making process, from the very beginning, wasstructured 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 entryfor TCP
licenses allowed everybody and their brother to start driving for aliving,
turning San Francisco into a small town where TNC drivers and taxidrivers
fight over dwindling fares, posing great danger to the public.A new
category of public transportation, with light regulatory treatment hasbeen
given to Uber, Lyft and SideCar without any justification. The use
ofsmartphone applications, which cab companies already have, seems to be
thereason for the CPUC to propose regulations in a significantly
andfundamentally different manner from taxis.The CPUC has failed to
recognize the true nature of the TNC's operations andthe true nature of
their business models as TNCs use contract language thatessentially
requires all passengers and drivers to "waive all claims".This proposed
decision to use drivers without commercial licenses in privatecars, less
regulated than carriers using professional drivers and commercialvehicles
should not be accepted. It contradicts the Commission's mandate toprotect
the public. This segment on KTVU - Channel 2 News has been airedover and
over again, showing how the public is at danger when unmarkedvehicles roam
the streets soliciting rides with
the CPUC to exercise jurisdiction over Uber, Lyft and SideCar, operatingin
San Francisco as taxis, the Commission should not grant these
tech-cabcompanies any special privileges nor any special treatments. To
protect thepublic's welfare, jointly with the San Francisco Municipal
TransportationAgency (SFMTA), the CPUC should require all TNCs to comply
with the samerules and regulations taxis must follow.If you read this
commentary by Attorney Veena Dubal, a doctoral candidate inthe
jurisprudence and social policy program at UC Berkeley, you will agreethat
this particular proposed decision by the CPUC has to be
we taxi drivers, residents of California, feel pushed out of workunfairly
and illegally by a silly pink moustache and a simple phone app, itis
natural to commiserate with the frustration of our fellow driver
TrevorJohnson from the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association (SFCDA) shown
in thisNBC report.
(http://www.nbcbayarea.com/on-air/as-seen-on/219882211.html)When we taxi
drivers read articles about legislators moving to rein in theCPUC, where
lawmakers refer to the Commission as a "FIEFDOM",
...and even more so, whentaxi drivers become aware of President Peevey's
travels, being wined anddined on lobbyists
we become pessimistic about a fair ruling on the TNCs andwe see our trust
in our elected/appointed officials totally undermined.In the middle of
this crisis, as we still wait for answers about the SanMateo Bridge
limousine fire that killed five young women, we just hope theCPUC 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 hasendorsed the bandit tech-cab companies,
facilitating unfair competition anddriving the San Francisco taxi industry
into to dire straits. Sadly enough,our City Attorney's Office and our
Board of Supervisors have been silent onthe issue.In the taxi industry we
have always feared the City of San Francisco and theState of California
becoming too vulnerable and too susceptible to SiliconValley's money. As
law and order collapse on the streets of San Franciscowith the influx of
bandit-tech-cabs, one can easily presume that cabdrivers' 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 bejeopardized by the
CPUC's favoritism in this ruling on Uber, Lyft andSideCar.Thank you very
much for your consideration of this matter.Marcelo Fonseca25-year career