Posts Tagged ‘552-1300’

How People Got Around Frisco BEFORE Lyft and UBER: The Secret Phone Numbers of Veteran’s Cab in SoMA

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Here it is: Gritty HARRISON 1500 –>, lovely COSTCO #144, and of course, the Italianate red/white/green of VETERAN’S CAB 502-1300 all down at 11th and Harrison in SoMA:

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I don’t know how things work now but back in the day if you were a regular / reliable customer, cab companies / drivers would give you secret phone numbers that would get you to Dispatch quicker than the public “sucker” lines that you’d see: in the phone book (yes, an actual book); painted on the sides of cars; or, in the case of Veteran’s, lit up in neon for tout le monde to see.

I can’t recall anything at all about 415 502-1300. I suppose it was ahead of my time. (Maybe it connects you to UCSF these days.) But I DO recall 415 552-1300 from the pre-UBER/Lyft era. At that time, if you gave that line a jingle ’cause you needed a taxi at, let’s say 7:00 PM on a Saturday night, you’d most likely get a busy signal, oh well.

Why? Well it’s ’cause there were <1000 taxi medallions in Frisco for the longest time. This shortage meant that cabbies could make bank, especially considering how cheap rents were Back Then compared with now. It was such a sweet job that former Mayor Willie Brown drove a taxi to pay his way through UC Hastings Law School back in the 1950’s. And in the 1980’s, Frisco was gaining a national reputation as a place where it was hard to find a cab. Read THE MAYOR, THE CABBIES and the 84 DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION – Historical Essay by Rua Graffis, United Taxicab Workers, 1996 for the reason why.

Anywho, just think about what phone number cabbies would use to call in for a tow truck if a taxi broke down – they sure as Heck wouldn’t use the sucker line, right? They’d call a number where somebody would actually pick up. That’s the kind of number that you’d want to use.

What’s that, you lived out at 25th and Irving way out there in the Sunset? Well in that case, you might have had to wait / give up on getting a taxi, but at least an effort would be made. Or maybe a taxi driver heading in that general direction would drop off and then swing on by in 20 minutes or so.

I’m not saying that that was great, but all this attention paid by the taxi industry to those who knew how to get through meant there was less attention paid to some tourist / newcomer who didn’t know anything.

Of course, our Chamber of Commerce and our tourist industry HATED this situation, but then, in part due to the difficulty certain ballers (like Travis K) had finding a taxi in Frisco ’round about a decade ago, ALONG CAME UBER AND LYFT.

Now, any rube can get a ride, but traffic is much worse, and getting worser, so who knows which era you’d prefer.

Ah, mem’ries…