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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 25, 2008 1:03 AM. The previous post in this blog was Lifelong viewer, first-time visitor. The next post in this blog is Try to remember, and if you remember. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

You got a fast car

I see the City of Portland is wondering whether it needs more taxis -- and our friend and sometimes commenter Frank Dufay is at the helm of the latest examination of that subject.

I'll tell you what the Rose City needs: more taxi drivers who speak English. Late Saturday night at the airport, we got a middle-aged, Russian-looking cabbie in a green van. When he got out from behind the wheel, I asked him, "Can you fit four passengers, plus our luggage, in there?" He looked at me as if I were speaking Klingon. Actually, I might have done a little better with Klingon. Hard-working guy, and we gave him a large tip, but hey, you talk about a stranger in a strange land. (He also has not yet learned the art of wearing a seat belt.)

The other party to this comedy was the airport employee in the bright vest who was apparently supposed to be fulfilling some role relating to taxi dispatch. This young man was leaning up against a post, staring blankly at the terminal, in the opposite direction from the long line of idle cabs. (You would think they'd have better places to be on a Saturday night.) And not only did he not do a thing to solve the communication barrier between us and the driver, which occurred within clear earshot of him -- he refused to so much as look at us. What the Port is getting in exchange for that kid's paycheck is way beyond me.

So there's a little input for ya, Frank. Good luck with the rest of it.

Comments (12)

Try this service to and from PDX, better, faster and a lot cheaper. The drivers all speak and understand English. All one needs to do when arriving at PDX is ask the person at the booth for a blue star shuttle and presto one is called from the waiting area to load you and all your baggage. I've been using them for years.

http://bluestarbus.com/airporters.html

I think Airport Light Rail may be the answer to your problem, there.

+1 on the light rail. After being in a Portland cab, I usually feel as if I probably need a series of shots. In addition to being filthy inside, many cabs are worn out and obviously unsafe. Few have working seat belts. Other cities (e.g., New York) have been successful in solving similar problems, but of course that would require some actual public oversight.

I frequently take a cab downtown if I'm going to functions where I will be drinking. I'm amazed how often the driver asks me what the best route is.

Jack wrote:
"...we got a middle-aged, Russian-looking cabbie..."

Not to be challenging or contrary, but what makes someone "Russian-looking?"

Could the cabbie have been thinking, "I've got a middle-aged New Jersey-looking traveler?"

__ob__

I frequently take a cab downtown if I'm going to functions where I will be drinking. I'm amazed how often the driver asks me what the best route is.

It's probably because they have customers like me who (nicely) tell them the route they should take. I actually like it when they ask me.

Also, I've seen those airport people at the taxi queue being quite helpful. If they weren't there, you'd either:
a) have no taxis waiting
b) have so many taxis waiting that they back up into the other lanes of traffic.

One is hard pressed to find an English speaking cabbie in Portland. Getting closer to Vera’s New Yorkization of Portland.

The last time I took a cab to the airport it cost me almost as much as parking my car at the Park & Fly lot for the weekend. Not to mention, the dummy driver took a less than direct route to the airport to boost his fare and was late for my pickup as well. NO TIP FOR HIM - and yes he was a Russian.

Maybe Fireman Randy can inspect the cabs for set belt violations when he takes over the police dept. That is if he can find the time, since he is currently SO busy in finding fire code violations, harrassing business owners, shutting down businesses, and taking over real estate for urban renewal.

Hey, I have an idea... If the city wants more shuttle services, why don't they audit the shuttle companies. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to run a "whois" domain lookup to see that raja tours owns beaverton airporter. The driver told me they keep one van with the logo to maintain the city license. Why does the city tolerate this?

http://whois.domaintools.com/beavertonairporter.com

what makes someone "Russian-looking?"

Many Russian people have features that are easy to pick out.

I've seen those airport people at the taxi queue being quite helpful.

Me, too -- which is why I was so surprised at the guy we had the other night. Absolutely sullen and noncommunicative.

Cityhall needs to take a look at the regulations that these guys operate under and repeal most of them. Portland should make neighborhood taxis, ride sharing, jitneys all legal and a person should be able to enter the business if they own just one vehicle. What with GPS equipments, cell phones and laptop computers a person doesn't need a central office and dispatcher. Someone in Cityhall might wish to take a look at what has been done elsewhere. There is a world of ideas out there. Try some!

TLG


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