Protest Outside of City Hall

Hundreds of San Francisco cab drivers honked their horns and circled City Hall from 12-2 pm on Tuesday to protest the Municipal Transportation Agency’s ruling to allow cab companies to charge a 5% fee on all credit card transactions.

The strike was organized by Tariq Mehmood, a cabbie whose goal was to create a taxi gridlock during the MTA’s 1 pm meeting to address taxi fares. Indeed, the streets around City Hall were jam-packed with taxis refusing to take passengers, slowing traffic to a crawl.

Mehmood claimed the average taxi driver has to make about $104 a day just to pay for the cab rental. The 5% credit card transaction fees amount to a monthly loss of $250 to $300 per driver. Some cabbies are expressing outrage that the 5% is not being passed on to customers.

Besides removing the credit card fee, the taxi drivers’ demands include getting rid of the new waybilling system – which tracks taxi routes and fares and intrudes on drivers’ privacy – and abandoning the plan to install televisions featuring advertisements in cabs’ backseats.

The strike is also fueled by drivers’ anger over the delay in fare increases. In the eight years since the MTA raised rates, gas prices, car leasing rates, and the cost of living have steadily risen. Yet, taxi fares in San Francisco are already considered some of the most expensive in the country.

All five board members of the MTA voted to increase passenger fares in May to be implemented on August 1, although these increases have been delayed by California’s environmental review process.

Despite today’s taxi strike, all of the MTA measures are expected to stand.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter and join the conversation on Facebook.