Analysis of 1 year of taxi complaints in San Francisco (all 1700 of them)

January 12, 2013

The Bay Citizen did an analysis of all 1700 of the recorded complaints about taxis in San Francisco.  Complaints were sent to the city’s 311 compliant line.  The 1700 complaints span from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 and represent a 13% increase over the previous time period.


The complaint list is an interesting read.

  • 361 complaints about drivers not picking them up because of their appearance
  • 206 complaints about being overcharged
  • 200 complaints about drivers not taking credit cards
  • 130 complaints about drivers not picking them up because of their destination (usually the Sunset or Richmond)
  • 40 complaints about drivers charging illegal fees
  • 35 complaints about drivers using cell phones
  • 25 complaints about drivers smoking
  • 15 complaints about drivers not picking them up because they were African American.

SFMTA has one person in charge of investigating complaints.

Poor quality taxi service is one of the reasons why users seem to be so enthusiastic about new ride-sharing services Sidecar and Lyft as well as taxi-replacement service Uber.  Payment and overcharging are not a problem as all of these services handle it directly via a smartphone app. Users can complain directly to the company if they have any issues.  Lyft, Sidecar and Uber have a lot of incentive to take complaints seriously as users won’t continue to patronize them if drivers are rude, refuse to take them places or drive in an unsafe way.  Because trips on these services are booked via smartphone, every trip is tracked so a user has a record of who the driver was, whereas with a taxi and a cash payment unless you remember the can drivers ID you may not know who to complain about.

  • Acommonman

    Hello: below is the text of a complaint I sent over to a SF cab company following a recent experience

    I took one of your cabs from the Galleria Park Hotel on Saturday the 18th around 6:45 p.m. and was heading to SF airport.

    I had a TERRIFYING experience. For the next 25 minutes of the ride, I feared for my life. I got into the cab and soon the cab driver started muttering quite loudly but under his breath. Everything he said though was extremely audible.

    He was extremely agitated and nervous and was randomly changing radio stations every 3 seconds while driving extremely fast.

    He then started with racial slurs and epithets against people from China and then extended it to other ethnic groups including people from Saudi Arabia and then people from Iran and Iraq. He started getting louder as we entered the freeway. I am of South Asian descent and he soon started hurling abuses against Indians and Pakistanis and how they killed each other and how he wished the British had finished “them” and then started saying other fearful and strange things.

    Every time he said something more extreme, he would shout it aloud BUT
    role his window down so that I would hear less of it. It was a very very
    threatening experience – the scariest 30 minutes of my life. I started formulating a text ready to send to friends in the area as I felt I was in danger and even at some points considered an exit strategy from the cab though I was on the freeway. I also readied my Google maps on the phone to make sure he was heading in the right direction. A beta version of Google maps on my phone had a voice over which started speaking and providing directions. The cab driver turned to look at me and
    shouted at me and how he HATES technology and how the damn Indians were all
    working with computers and how he hated computers. I was completely quiet during the whole ride and did not say a word for fear of setting him off. The only conversations I had with him had been to inform him in the beginning as to where I wanted to go. I had requested him to take me to the airport to the car rental area.

    He finally did take me to my destination; I tried to scan my credit card on the machine facing the passenger seat behind but he shouted at me saying he doesn’t use that machine and asked me for my card and ran it though a machine in the front. I gave him the card and included a tip due to fear of retribution (total including tip was $52 – I think the charge was ~ $43.75)

    As I scampered in fear out of the cab, he snickered and said “aren’t you glad you are out of this cab” and then he said “I am IRISH – IRA – Irish Republican Army”

    I was too scared to ask for a receipt and tried to take the cab license number down after he left and informed 2 police officers at the car rental center at the Airport about this incidence. In my panic, I may not have remembered the correct License number of the cab.

    Needless to say, I believe that this particular cab driver is a deeply disturbed individual and his mental state should be evaluated and assessed and he should not be in a position to ferry passengers. He likely is a threat to passengers in his
    cab. I suggest you take some necessary and remedial action against this individual.