SF Green Cab Pulls Taxis Off Street, May Go Out of Business

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(Photo from SF Green Cab)

We have been covering the woes of the San Francisco taxi industry for some time now, and here's another one for you: SF Green Cab, a small worker-owned taxi cooperative founded in 2007, has stopped operating and could be out of business for good.

Green Cab pulled its 16 cabs off the street late Thursday night just before the midnight expiration of its insurance, says Mark Gruberg, a member of the company's board and one of its founders.

Gruberg said the company's insurer, Onyx,  based in San Francisco, did not renew because of two costly Green Cab accidents in the last four years.

Louis Rovens, CEO and president of Onyx, said SF Green Cab had a "tremendous loss ratio, " meaning more money was paid out in claims than taken in via premiums.

When SF Green Cab shopped for alternatives, it found the market had narrowed considerably, Gruberg said, because the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency had disqualified a number of insurers, including Onyx, due to newly enforced ratings requirements.


"Some companies were writing taxi insurance that the city turned around and said, 'You can’t do that anymore, you don’t meet our criteria,' " Gruberg said.

Rovens said he insures three other cab companies in San Francisco: DeSoto, Metro, and National. But he says the SFMTA is now requiring any new policies or renewals to be written by insurers who are graded by A.M. Best, a ratings company. Onyx is rated by a different firm, and Rovens says it would be expensive to get the additional assessment.

We have a phone call and an email out to the SFMTA now, and we'll update the post if and when we get a response.

Green Cab has about 70 drivers on its roster, including many who work part time and occasionally.  There is an industrywide shortage of drivers due to competition from ride services like UberX and Lyft, so some Green Cab drivers have been quickly able to find work with other outfits.

Green Cab, however, is known in the industry for its progressive policies, such as a prohibition on dispatchers or other workers in the office taking tips from drivers, a practice that is illegal in San Francisco but is widely ignored by some firms. Green Cab drivers are also not charged rent on a taxi should they become sick and unable to drive during a scheduled shift, another industry practice that some drivers find onerous.

Mission Local talked to one Green Cab driver, Rico Camacho, 58, who "reluctantly moved" to another taxi company  after four years with SF Green Cab.

“All the drivers don’t want to be with anyone else,” he said. “They were a very principled company.”

Now the clock is ticking, says Gruberg, as vehicle loans, rent on the cab lot and payment to medallion holders come due and no income comes in.

"I can say that I doubt we can get past the end of this month and still exist if something doesn't happen, and that is probably stretching it a ways," he said.