Adrienne Kristine has nothing but praise for San Francisco cab drivers.
“Maybe it's because I'm disabled and have a rather large walker to carry that the dispatchers treat me with kindness,” Kristine wrote in a comment on The Bay Citizen’s website. “When I was traveling back and forth to South SF for radiation treatments Monday through Friday for seven weeks, the drivers I had were spectacular and made the experience much easier to handle.”
Not every local resident, however, would describe cab service in San Francisco as spectacular. As The Bay Citizen recently reported, a total of 1,733 complaints against taxi drivers were registered with San Francisco's 311 complaint line last fiscal year. That represents a 13 percent increase in gripes over the previous year, nearly double the 900-complaint goal of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates taxis.
Taxis infested with bed bugs, drivers falling asleep at the wheel, rude behavior and difficulty getting a cab also were among the complaints....(T)wo friends were upset when a driver offered them a 10 percent discount if they made out in front of him....
Fifteen people complained that cabs wouldn’t pick them up because they were African American. On Halloween evening in 2011, a black woman called to complain that a Yellow Cab driver pointed to a white woman standing nearby and said, “I want her and not you.” After she complained, the driver used a racial slur, she said.
Coverage of the increase in complaints led to impassioned discussion between cab drivers, passengers and others in the comment forums of websites like KQED News and The Bay Citizen. Some riders said their treatment by drivers has led them to switch to ride-sharing services. Those in the taxi industry responded that some of the criticisms were unfair or represented a miniscule percentage of the total rides they serviced.
"Most cab rids are a nonevent," DeSoto Cab General Manager Athan Rebelos said in an interview. "It's one step up from riding a bus."