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Officials: Taxi Strike's Impact Will Be Minimal

Majority of city's 1,500 cabs are expected to remain in service Tuesday

A planned taxi strike Tuesday afternoon will not have a significant impact on transportation in San Francisco, taxi officials said Monday.

Several hundred San Francisco taxi drivers are expected to go out of service from noon to 2 p.m., circling City Hall and honking their horns to protest a host of issues, according to Tariq Mehmood, a cabbie who is leading the demonstration.

The majority of the city’s 1,500 taxis are expected to remain on the streets.

“We want to make sure we’re at that number or very close,” said Paul Rose, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates the taxi industry. “We’re trying to work with the taxicab companies to make sure that is the case.”

Rose declined to provide specifics about what companies are doing in that regard.

Hansu Kim, president of DeSoto Cab Co., one of the city’s three largest taxi companies, said he thought Tuesday would be “like any other day.”

But fears that the strike will leave taxi riders stranded prompted the San Francisco-based startup Uber to announce Monday that it would offer a 50 percent discount on car service — matching the price of standard taxi service — from 4 a.m. until midnight Tuesday, 10 times longer than the expected duration of the strike.

“Tomorrow is going to be a tough day for getting around in San Francisco,” the company’s vice president of operations, Brian Graves, wrote in a blog post. “Uber is making sure to do our part to keep San Francisco moving.”

Several readers left comments on Graves’ blog post calling the company scabs and strikebreakers.

Tuesday’s action will be the third time in recent months that cabbies have circled City Hall, honking their horns in protest.

Among the issues angering drivers is a 5 percent fee they must pay on all credit card transactions, which goes in part to pay for backseat "passenger information monitors." The Bay Citizen reported that the fees have prompted some drivers to illegally go cash-only, even though they are required to accept credit cards.

After holding a series of town hall meetings to hear drivers’ concerns, the SFMTA last month agreed to raise fares for the first time in eight years. The agency’s Board of Directors approved one component of the fare hike as a good-faith gesture May 17, but deferred implementation until it could hear the full proposal, which was pushed back to the June 21 meeting for procedural reasons.

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