Yellow Cab Conducts Regular Background Checks? That's Not What It Said Under Oath.

Categories: City Hall

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C. Troy Mathis
Just how strict is Yellow Cab about putting safe, responsible cab drivers on the road? That answer depends on which day you're talking to Yellow Cab.

On Tuesday, for instance, Yellow Cab's owner Jack Bewley gave a long speech at City Hall's special transportation meeting touting how safe and responsible Yellow Cab is. People might prefer connecting with limos through Uber, but it's not fair.

"By allowing limousines to compete directly with taxicab companies, the city places in jeopardy safe, quality service to the entire community," Bewley said. He promised that Yellow Cab drivers now have proper accident insurance (unlike before), visit poor areas as required by city law and, of course, that Yellow Cab's cars and drivers are both safe as can be.

"We also conduct regular inspections and driver background checks," he said.

Yellow Cab conducts driver background checks? That's encouraging. But wait. Here's Yellow Cab claims manager Max Romero, speaking under oath 10 months ago after a woman sued Yellow Cab: "They do periodic checks on drivers but I don't know how often or -- I just know they do some, you know, periodically they'll run checks on them."

In January 2011, Debra Epps had already been in three car crashes when, driving for Yellow Cab, she lost control of her of her car and caused a fourth one.

The vehicle flipped, injuring a customer inside named Diana Lambert. This was before Yellow Cab fixed its insurance policy. Lambert had hefty medical bills and Yellow Cab didn't want to pay, so she sued.

When Yellow Cab, also known by its sad corporate name, Irving Holdings, was put on the witness stand, suddenly the driver-background-check program didn't sound so impressive anymore. It was Lambert's attorney who discovered the cab driver's three prior car crashes from 2007 until 2010, among numerous other traffic violations.

It turned out, Epps was not one of the cab drivers who had been "periodically" subject to Yellow Cab's spontaneous background check program.

"It doesn't look like it," Romero testified. No, it sure doesn't.

In fact, because all of the Irving Holdings drivers are independent contractors, it's not clear how much Yellow Cab is able to monitor them.

"Does Irving Holdings drug test after car wrecks?" Mark Frenkel, Lambert's attorney, asked Romero, court records from the deposition show.

"No, sir."

"Does Yellow Cab pull her certified driving history or any driving history?"

"No."

Later, it became increasingly clear that driving skills are kind of a side issue to being a cabbie in Dallas.

"Is there anyone at Irving Holdings that evaluates the skill of a driver?" Frenkel grilled the claims manager.

"No."

"And in what situation would somebody be terminated for a history of at-fault accidents?"

"Two in one year. If they get two in one year, the third one, I guess, would be."

"How about speeding tickets?"

"No."

Romero explained that cab drivers can get as many speeding tickets as they want without losing their privileges.

Lambert's case is still in court, with another hearing scheduled for February. Yellow Cab officials and Yellow Cab attorney Jon Barr haven't returned messages.

Meanwhile, Debra Epps continued to pick up passengers for Yellow Cab after the crash. She lasted just over a year before getting in a new car crash while on the job, on March 6, 2012. "I hit a pedestrian," Epps explained in her testimony. She finally quit the business after that.

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26 comments
odiepage
odiepage

Jack Bewley has ALWAYS been a crook, and cretin.  I got to know him through his ripoff efforts with DART many years ago.


He should be in jail... not ripping off the drivers, and the taxi riders.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

I don't buy the "independent" contractor line.  One of the tests of "independent contractor" is that does the independent contractor provide the tools and equipment necessary for the job.  If Yellow Cab is providing the vehicles, then the drivers cannot be independent contractors.  If the drivers are providing the vehicles, then Yellow Cab is really no different than Uber, it is then just a dispatch service.


I do not see how a recently arrived immigrant, who does not speak English, doesn't know the City streets can be an effective cab driver.


Perhaps we should take a tip from the London (England) model and require the cab drivers to be licensed and part of that test is proficiency in English and a complete knowledge of how to get from Point A to Point B in the shortest distance or shortest time.


That and we allow cabs to be hailed from curbside.

markzero
markzero

Let's make a new rule: ALL speeches at City Hall must be given under oath.


...hey, at least it will prompt city officials to get out more.

ocean_breeze
ocean_breeze

Uber must stop violating laws and follow same rules as all other transportation companies. Being a peer-to-peer taxi company - it has to be regulated exactly

as the rest of them are. Most of Uber-cult followers would not want the same pirate

operation competitor to come after their livelihood yet animosity against yellow

is quite telling, paid for or not. Yes, Uber PR managers - that one is for you.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Or google glass em. JHC with all the tech avail, someone should be able to burn Yellow. Of course he insulates himself rather smartly thru sub companies and independent contractors... so let's push for an ordinance to outlaw that kind of thing.

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

for my ride from stemmons to farmers branch Uber is 6 dollars cheaper plus no tip.  Plus the car is clean and driver is friendly and doesnt drive on the curb.  This is consistent over several trips.

jmckee3
jmckee3

It was amazing to see Yellow Cab arguing that they don't skim the biggest fares. Just try and get a short fare in Uptown, especially with a credit card, they absolutely will refuse service. If the credit card doesn't come up until after you have taken your ride some with threaten to call the cops if you don't pay for a ride to an ATM to get cash and then taken back to your destination. I've called their bluff and pointed out city code requires them to take credit cards, then they just get angry and will kick you out and eat the overpriced fare.


Oh and make sure you are paying attention, hitting the extra button a few extra times is extremely common but question it and you might be thrown out of the cab like me.


Of course Dallas has a taxi commission that is supposed to regulate this behavior, it doesn't happen, I used to call and report this kind of behavior, they don't do anything about it.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

oh so some competition comes in and now you have the correct insurance, go to blighted underserved areas, and have safe cabs? sheeeeeit. pretty sure if Uber is legislated out of business in Dallas, you'll go right back to your old ways, which Im pretty sure is exactly how you are still running now with exception of a few polished turds you turned into city council to show them you are trying

James080
James080

Now that Jack Bewley's sock puppet is the new Dallas City Manager, I don't expect much to change. Yellow will do what ever they please, and the city will cooperate by regulation his competition out of business.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

One might think the DPD vice squad could mystery shop Yellow and shut em down.

mcdallas
mcdallas

Wanna see how bad the situation is?  Walk onto a cab yard.  There are many and they are very scary.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Yellow Cab licenses operators of multiple cabs.  The operator hires the driver and pays most of the income to Yellow Cab as a fee for the car and the brand.  The operator leases the cab marked as a Yellow Cab at a fee sufficient to recover the fat charge Yellow Cab charges, as well as the profit the intermediary charges.  The driver has to be on the street long hours seven days a week for about six months before he can build up repeat customers who ask for him.  Only then can he make any money at it.  Many sleep in their cabs.  They stay out.  This is where the rub comes in.  There is so little money in it for the driver the only people who will stick with it are African and South Asian immigrants. Americans will not work like this.   But of that population from which to draw drivers, most do not speak English and when they improve their language skills - they leave for something that doesn't demand the 24/7 street time.  This came from one of these intermediaries who ran six Yellow Cabs.  But the guy had a conscience.  He started up on the side several used luxury cars for hire and hooked into the Uber conduit.  This guy is Lebanese. Yellow caught him and pulled his cabs.  He pleaded with Yellow Cab that to keep so much of the fare that he could only prey on non-English speakers who could not banter with the fares in order to build up a clientele and have a future.  Right now he's gone totally Uber because it leaves far more for him and his drivers and, as a consequence, the public gets far better service.  He told me - not a chance can Yellow Cab offer as good or safer service.  Their driver turnover is too high.

It's anecdotal but there it is.  He also said he must watch out for the City because Yellow Cab is trying to put him out of business.  He said Uber is like night and day when compared to Yellow Cab.  But Yellow Cab has control of the local government.  He said it's a lot worse in other metros. "It is very sad."

djmilus
djmilus

@jmckee3 Literally exact same thing happens to me every time I take a Yellow Cab.  They will refuse to take card then say they'll drive you to ATM to get cash...you refuse, they get very angry...typically they'll eventually pull out their mobile card machine.  Another trick is certain nights (Texas/OU weekend, St Pats day, NYE, July 4th, etc) when they wont turn their meter on, they just tell you when you arrive its a flat 50$ a person no matter where you go or how far.  Which is funny because one of the arguments against Uber is its surge pricing.  Yellow Cab literally does the exact same thing. A final trick they will use is the driving in the opposite direction of your destination and circling around.  Ive caught them countless times doing it. Whats nice for me is that when they pull these tricks I refuse to pay...tell em to go ahead and call the cops.  They never do.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@jmckee3 yup, I dare all of the council members to go out and try to hale a cab on any night in Dallas.  If they feel they would be recognized, send out a family member. They would then see how true everything you typed is.  

pak152
pak152

@ozonelarrybnope they're too busy trying to shut down a car wash in South Dallas

WylieH
WylieH

@holmantx  [The driver has to be on the street long hours seven days a week for about six months before he can build up repeat customers who ask for him.  Only then can he make any money at it. ]


Very true.  Another way they used to be able to build repeat customers was by picking up out-of-towners at the airports and chatting them up on the way into town, doing their best to impress the visitor enough that the visitor would then call the same guy for rides for the duration of his or her stay (and future visits).  Yellow Cab recognized this as a weakness in their ability to serve as the sole employer for desperate cabbies, that's why they hired lobbyists to get the CNG taxi preference passed without any phase-in period.  Overnight, the only way to get these choice airport runs was to have enough cash to purchase a CNG cab.  Dozens, if not hundreds, of minority taxi cab owners immediately lost their livelihoods-- that's why they marched on City Hall (to no avail).  To the extent they wanted to continue to driving, their only choice was to pay huge fees to Irving Holdings to connect to its dispatch system.

fredgarvinmp713
fredgarvinmp713

Good to know. I don't use Yellow Cab anymore. You're right about the turnover. For awhile I would ask a good driver for the card, and figure I could then just call them directly, ie, a little quality control.

But when I called they were off that day, too busy with their radio'ed in passengers, or they has quit. I tried using Yellow Cab's totally worthless app as well.

Über is many times better, and worth the extra cost.

ocean_breeze
ocean_breeze

@seat21d@ocean_breezeTrolling are those naive Uber-"panacea" worshipers that see corruption everywhere. Too bad their Uber-iPhone-meter didn't charge them $700.00+ for a ride yet. But no worries, in unregulated under-insured Uber cabs you surely will get that bill, and who knows - perhaps even something more.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@WylieH @holmantx    So this is bullshit:

"Yellow Cab drivers now visit poor areas as required by city law and, of course, that Yellow Cab's cars and drivers are both safe as can be. "We also conduct regular inspections and driver background checks."

or, Trust Me.  I paid good money to a lawyer to phony this compliance crap up and I promise to regularly check myself for strict adherence to said ordinance(s).

Doews the city have a robust inspection regimen like they do on restaurants?  Or are they just too understaffed?

Yellow Cab will take anybody with a pulse because the only drivers they get are desperate, and they don't even hire them.

Nor can they "check" with a lot of these drivers because they are new to the country and don't speak English.

When you are the only game in town and you have the local politicians in your hip pocket, it is useless to pass ordinances, or expect them to comply with them.  

Only one way to improve service and the drivers' lot in Dallas life and that is competition.

seat21d
seat21d

@ocean_breeze @seat21d I'll take a minuscule chance at an overcharge requiring a simple dispute with AMEX over hostile and abuse Yellow Cab drivers when a passenger attempts to use a credit card as required by law.   

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