Taxi Commission + MTA = Hot Bureaucracy on Bureaucracy Action

By Benjamin Wachs

Announcing that it’s never too late to jump on a trend after it’s already popular, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced last week that’s he’s proposing legislation that would merge the San Francisco Taxi Commission with the MTA (which runs MUNI).

“The passage of Prop A earlier this month showed that the public continues to want their transportation all under one department and not under a fractured system,” the press release said.

Yeah … Prop A … isn’t that the one which the Mayor technically endorsed but then never campaigned for? I’m pretty sure it is. But hey, jumping on the bandwagon is what Newsom’s good at – so by all means, play to your strengths.

What this means in concrete terms is the formation of a “Mayor’s Taxi Working Group” to “work with industry representatives, city departments, hospitality representatives, and constituents of the taxi services” for 120 days to hammer all the details out.

What the press release doesn’t say is why they’re doing this in the first place. Prop A had very specific goals it wanted to accomplish by making MUNI an independent system: greater funding, more stable operations, and increased flexibility to do its job without political interference.

When it comes to the taxi commission – what problems are we trying to solve? What services are we trying to improve? Is there any reason we’re doing this except for the sake of doing it?

The Mayor’s Press Office said they’d have to get back to me on this. Sigh.

Mind you, they could be right: this could be the greatest idea for city streets since the invention of broken white lines. But, you’d think that when they make a major policy proposal, they’d have a reason for doing it other than “voters like this stuff.”

The Mayor’s spokespeople said they’d get back to me on that today. I’ll let you know as soon as they holler.

Readers, what are the problems with Taxis in this town, aside from the standard bitching about never finding one when you need one (i .e. 2 a.m. Thursday morning, in front of some depressing strip club; but that's just sad, lonely us).

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