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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pertinent PSA for Stranger Readers (and staffers)

posted by on November 22 at 12:25 PM

In an effort to curb drunk driving, Harborview is starting a taxi stand program in concert with Seattle bars and restaurants. The first taxi stand will open on November 30 in Fremont—which Harborview’s survey identified as the “second-most popular drinking destination in Seattle.”

The stand will be located in front of PCC Natural Markets on Evanston, just north of 34th street. The taxi stand will operate Thursdays-Saturdays from 11:30 pm-2:30 am. In the coming months, according to Harborview, taxi stands will open in other neighborhoods: Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, Belltown, and Ballard.

Important Context: It’s illegal for cabbies to pick up people hailing cabs in Seattle … which is why it’s a bitch to try and get a cab on a Saturday night. A taxi stand, where cabs dock and wait for customers, will make it much easier to get your drunk ass into a cab after leaving the bar. Bartenders have too much going on to order every last customer a taxi while they’re also trying to wrap up.

Meanwhile: Here are some of the findings from Harborview’s drinking survey, based on answers from 300 21-34 year-olds living in Seattle who say they go out to drink:

Nearly 20% said they’d driven within the past month, even though they knew they’d had too much to drink.

There were 8,210 DUI arrests in King County last year, with an average blood alcohol level of 0.14 (legal limit is 0.08).

43% of 21-34 year olds in Seattle drink 2-4 times per week; 10% (17% of males) drink 5 or more days per week.

44% in Seattle typically have more than 2 drinks when they drink alcohol; 34% of men usually have more than 4 drinks.

40% of men and 24% of women binge drink at least once a month.

54% of people this age in Seattle drank at a bar, restaurant or club the last time they were drinking with others. Only 24% were in their own home.

Alcohol-related crashes kill more people ages 21 — 34 than people of other ages.

The most popular neighborhoods to go drinking, in order:
1) Capitol Hill (20%)
2) Fremont (18%)
3) Belltown (16%)
4) Downtown (13%)
5) Pioneer Square (12%)
6) U-District (8%)
7) Queen Anne (2%)

RSS icon Comments


whats a Taxi Stand?

Posted by eugene | November 22, 2006 12:35 PM

Any links to the study or project?

Posted by Phenics | November 22, 2006 12:36 PM

Now would be as good a time as any for someone to explain to me why we have a public transportation system that shuts down one hour before the bars close.

Posted by robotslave | November 22, 2006 12:38 PM


A taxi stand is a designated spot on the block you can go where there will be cabs waiting to give rides. You don't have to call in advance etc...

It's illegal to hail a taxi in Seattle, so this will help alleviate the effects of that moronic rule.

No digital links. I've reprinted most of the interesting stuff, I think.

Posted by Josh Feit | November 22, 2006 12:41 PM

I hope that an effort is made to formally make patrons aware of the rule. If not, they will likely ignore the parked taxis and just drive off drunk as usual.

I find hilarious the no-hail rule. It fits in perfectly with Seattle's passive-aggressive approach to everything. 'Don't wave down a cab directly. Call a dispatcher and make him tell the cab to drive to you.' Fucking WEAK. This city's lawmakers need to be bitchslapped.

Posted by Gomez | November 22, 2006 12:45 PM

Don't people like to drink in Ballard?

Posted by Ballard Oldtimer | November 22, 2006 12:47 PM
"It's illegal to hail a taxi in Seattle"
Josh, do you think you could have one of your lackeys call the SPD and ask them when that law last showed up on the blotter? I've never heard of anyone getting arrested for flagging down a cab.
Posted by robotslave | November 22, 2006 12:47 PM

You guys have Taxi Stands? In Fremont, we may be #2, but we don't do taxi stands.

Take the bus.

Or walk.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 22, 2006 12:49 PM

I think this is great! I do hope the bars will help make people aware of the stands, though.

Is there really a law against hailing a cab? I always just thought we didn't have enough cab business in Seattle to warrant cabbies just driving around looking for fares. As it is, I rarely take a cab because it often takes less time to bus it wherever I'm going than to call a cab and wait for them to mosey on over.

I hope there's a HUGE marketing push for this for new Year's Eve.

Posted by genevieve | November 22, 2006 12:52 PM

i DO know taxi drivers who have been harassed and given tickets by cops for picking up passengers outside of designated stands. perhaps the law exists to fuck with taxi drivers in the same way the liquor board has lighting requirements so they can fuck with clubowners

Posted by r | November 22, 2006 12:53 PM

Call Crown Cab 206-72-CROWN.. it's a local indy company 3 drivers great service and better rates then the usual asses at Yellow Top

Posted by bobcat | November 22, 2006 12:54 PM

Ah, OK. So it's not illegal to hail a cab, it's illegal for cab to pick you up when you hail it?

Will & genevieve: yes, the bus, she is great. But when the bars close, the bus, she is no longer running.

Posted by robotslave | November 22, 2006 12:58 PM

this sounds like a step in the right direction, thanks Josh. as a bartender, trying to call somone a cab at 1:30-2am on a weekend is nearly impossible, especially since most of the cab companies (red, yellow, grey top) have gone to one dispatch for all of Seattle (red top used to have their own dispatch which was nice for my region). try asking a busy bartender who is trying to close up to be on hold with a cab dispatch for 15 minutes in a loud bar, not terribly effective... i didnt know about the "no hail" rule, that is completely insane.

i hope the city govt adopts more common-sense/ public-safety-centered measures like this to address problems with nightlife.

Posted by kwab | November 22, 2006 1:00 PM

I thought the law against hailing a cab was repealed about a decade ago.

Not that it matters, because as long as most people believe it's still true, there will be no people trying to hail cabs, and no cabs cruising for a ride. Which there aren't going to be in places like Fremont, anyways. I've hailed cabs downtown before, but it's ridiculously difficult.

As laws go, it's about as stupid as it gets.

Posted by Fnarf | November 22, 2006 1:12 PM

Most cities have laws against hailing cabs, or more to the point, allowing cabs to pick up random fares. It's considered a public saftey/regulatory issue...which is fair, I suppose. I mean, wouldn't it be the perfect job for a serial killer/rapist? Of course, I used to live in NYC and suffered every weekend from the stupid rules here in CA ('til I became known by my favorite cab company).

Most of the time public transportation stops running before bars close because intoxicated people are not allowed on buses.

It's a classic catch-22. How to get from the bar or club to your house? .08 is one (or, if your a man, two) drinks per hour. Drunk people are literally not legally allowed to be in public - no public transportation, no walking, no standing, no driving...yet, no cabs.

Posted by dewsterling | November 22, 2006 1:17 PM

Um, EVERY fare a cab picks up is a random fare. And serial killers are not interested in killing cab drivers. Some other kinds of bad guys are, but they have other ways of getting a cab if that's their ticket. Walk over to a fucking hotel. The rest of us are left standing there in the street with our arms out like morons. The law makes no sense.

Posted by Fnarf | November 22, 2006 1:37 PM

It hasn't been repealed.
Here's the code. The regulation falls on the driver not the customer, but the effect is: No hailing.

Posted by Josh Feit | November 22, 2006 1:39 PM

hmmm... it's not like the City of Seatte has gone out of it's way to make sure people know that law exists - you know, like telling anybody or anything.

I've been hailing cabs quite successfully for seven years. The corner of John and Broadway is particularly easy. Never more than 5 minutes.

Posted by erostratus | November 22, 2006 1:44 PM

Drunks aren't allowed on the bus?

Try telling that to anyone who's ever put up with the smell of route 7.

I've seen the no-drinking-on-the-bus rule enforced before, but never the no-drunks-on-the-bus (if that's actually a rule).

Posted by robotslave | November 22, 2006 1:47 PM

Hi all,
I'm the coordinator for this project at Harborview. There is more info at Bars will be letting people know about the taxi stand. And many are offering freebies for designated drivers - check the last call website.

Posted by Suzette | November 22, 2006 1:48 PM


When you call for a cab, it's not considered a random fare - dispatch asks for your name, the destination, and a phone number. Cabbies are sent to pick up specific people. Though I do appreciate the joke about criminals targeting cabbies, the laws usually exist to protect both the driver and the rider.

I'm sorry you can't hail a cab, it's illegal here, too. And there aren't any conveniently located hotels, either.

Posted by DEWsterling | November 22, 2006 1:56 PM

Two things:

1) The catch-22 that Dewsterling refers to has bothered me for some time, though what really bothers me about it is the underlying assumption: that going out and drinking at a bar is inherently wrong, and won't be supported. Classic head-in-the-sand stuff. People WILL go to bars and many of them WILL drink beyond the legal limit. We should be focused on getting them home safely and efficiently. Which leads me to:

2) Better taxi service is great and all, but it's not all that efficient. Sure, it whisks a drunk home, but if that same drunk drove downtown originally, they'll need to get back down there early early in the morning somehow to get their vehicle, lest they get a fat parking ticket (assuming they parked in a pay or metered space, which is usually the case). This creates an incentive to drive the car home.

Why not a service that drives you AND your car home? A taxi pulls up with two people in it: one to drive you home in the cab, the other to drive your car home at the same time.

I'd happily pay extra for that. Way too many people I've known (including myself) have driven when they shouldn't have, simply because they didn't want to face getting back downtown (or wherever) to get their car the next morning.

Posted by Matthew | November 22, 2006 2:04 PM

Robotslave, the reason the bus stops one hour before the bars is simple.

If you're still in the bar when it closes, you're way to drunk to take the bus and you need a taxi or a friend who hasn't been drinking by that point.

Even in Vancouver BC, a far more drink-friendly transit-friendly town, the SkyTrain purposefully shuts down 15 minutes BEFORE closing time.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 22, 2006 2:06 PM


I know why public transportation shuts down, nonetheless, the decision makes it harder for people to get home without driving. Plus, as an occasional restaurant employee, our last reservations are at 9pm, which means that we don't get out of service until after midnight. By 2, I am nowhere near drunk and nowhere near sober enough to drive. A last ride 15 minutes before closing is one thing, an hour before closing is a whole different issue.

Posted by dewsterling | November 22, 2006 2:14 PM

erostratus - as Josh said, it's on the driver...not you. drivers know they aren't supposed to as part of THEIR TAXI CAB licencing regs...

Posted by LH | November 22, 2006 2:18 PM

Too drunk to take the bus? I think you'd have to be actually unconscious for that.

Come on, tell me how a person who's too drunk to drive but not too drunk to take a cab can be too drunk to take the bus?

At any rate, as I said earlier, being blind stinking drunk doesn't seem to stop people from taking the bus in broad daylight, so I really can't see the sense in shutting down the safe, affordable route home before closing time.

Posted by robotslave | November 22, 2006 2:23 PM

Robotslave @ 12 - you are right about late night bus service. I was talking about bus v. cab in general, not specifically at closing time.

I would hope that, if this program is successful, more people will think ahead and either cab, walk, or bus their way to the bar in the first place, so they won't have to worry about getting their cars back in the am. I worked the NYE event at ConWorks last year, and I was heartened by how many people took cabs to the event, because they knew they didn't want to drive later.

Do we know where the taxi stands will be located?

Posted by genevieve | November 22, 2006 2:25 PM

As I noted in my post, the one in Fremont will be located in front of PCC Natural Markets on Evanston, just north of 34th street. Starting Thurs. Nov. 30, the taxi stand will operate Thursdays-Saturdays from 11:30 pm-2:30 am.

As for the others, no word yet, but I'll let Suzette @ #20, field that.

Posted by Josh Feit | November 22, 2006 2:37 PM

I'm shocked that law is still on the books. This city is an ass.

Fnarf story time: a friend of mine went out boozing in Chicago, where he was living at the time. On the way out of the bar, completely blotto, he was unable to find his car. So he decided to hail a cab and have it drive around the nearby blocks until he found it. Seeing a car with lights on the roof, he hailed it, got in the back, and told the driver what his plan was. As soon as he got in he realized he was in a cop car, not a taxi. The very jovial policemen then drove him around until he found his car, and let him get in it and drive off.

Posted by Fnarf | November 22, 2006 2:56 PM

I'm shocked that law is still on the books. This city is an ass.

Fnarf story time: a friend of mine went out boozing in Chicago, where he was living at the time. On the way out of the bar, completely blotto, he was unable to find his car. So he decided to hail a cab and have it drive around the nearby blocks until he found it. Seeing a car with lights on the roof, he hailed it, got in the back, and told the driver what his plan was. As soon as he got in he realized he was in a cop car, not a taxi. The very jovial policemen then drove him around until he found his car, and let him get in it and drive off.

Posted by Fnarf | November 22, 2006 2:57 PM

We native Seattleites, who delight in our passive-aggressiveness, put that law into place just to frustrate people from normal cities, so we can enjoy the sight of them standing in the street, red-faced, shrieking curses at passing cabs.

No, seriously, I AM a native Seattleite, but I had no idea about the no-hailing law. That's bizarre. I grew up with several cab drivers in the family, too! Maybe they just all ignored it. But now I know why the cab drivers just give me the fish eye and drive on past when I try to hail them.

Damn, 47 years in this city, and you'd think I'd have learned that.

I do think it's a dumb damn law. Every cab driver in my family has been robbed at weapon-point, and had their lives threatened by legitimate fares that they picked up from dispatch or at taxi stands, so I don't see that not permitting hailing makes the drivers any safer.

But back to the original topic - for some years, I've been taking cabs on New Years' from various downtown hotels to whatever party site I was headed to. Usually on New Years', the drivers are perfectly amenable to multiple groups sharing a cab and splitting the fare. The smart cab companies start sending the drivers back to the party sites after midnight to pick up people returning to the hotels. The idea of a similar program year-round to and from popular drinking sites is a good one, and will hopefully prevent many accidents.

Posted by Geni | November 22, 2006 3:06 PM

I live in Fremont and am thrilled we'll have a taxi stand here. It's about time! (I'm afraid I disagree with my Fremont neighbor.) I just moved here in April and cannot believe how many drunk drivers there are on Friday and Saturday nights. These people need a safe ride home so they don't hurt or kill themselves or others. A taxi stand (or two) is sorely needed. (Or a subway that runs at night like the Paris Metro, but I digress...)

By the way, what buses run at night and to where? What bus? Are there transfers involved? How many? So if you live in Renton and your one friend lives in the U-District and your other friend lives in Bellevue, no one is taking any bus. Please. At 2AM, you just want to go home fast. No one is going to wait for no stinking bus, a cab, or walk anywhere. Especially if it's cold and raining. Their going to drive if they even have to wait a short while. That's why a taxi stand is a good idea.

Posted by Stephanie | November 22, 2006 4:02 PM

Taxi stands = cool, but I had no idea it was illegal to hail a cab. Being native, I didn't know people actually hailed cabs anywhere outside of movies, because I'd neer seen anybody do it, until I'd removed my ass from our charming little village a few times. Having discovered the joy of not having to talk to asshole dispatchers (the last time I called Yellow Cab, they told me they couldn't dispatch to an intersection; they needed an address. What? Isn't it easier to find an intersection than a street address? if I couldn't look around and figure out the address while actually BEING there, was the driver going to have a much easeier time with it? fuckers), I now hail cabs regularly (downtown, mostly) and haven't found it to be that difficult.


Posted by Violet_DaGrinder | November 22, 2006 4:33 PM

I've hailed cabs for years. I had no idea it was illegal. I knew it was against the rules to hail a cab at a bus stop, but not anywhere else. That needs to be changed.

Posted by Stephanie | November 22, 2006 4:36 PM

Well Stephanie...if you're the Stephanie I think you seems to me, you're in a better position than most to get the ball rolling on changing the law. I posted the regs up above. Get on it.

Posted by Josh Feit | November 22, 2006 4:43 PM

I thank you for bringing it to my attention!

Posted by Stephanie | November 22, 2006 6:30 PM

Did anyone read the regulation to which Josh linked? It doesn't say anything about hailing cabs. It restricts the manner in which a driver may solicit passengers (i.e., ask people to become customers), says that they can't reserve their cars for certain destinations, and says that they can't wait around in loading zones.

Josh, can you explain how this affects the hailing of cabs? Maybe I read it wrong.

Posted by Phil | November 22, 2006 7:05 PM

Phil, it looks to me as if the ban is a consequence of A.1.:

"A for-hire driver may solicit passengers only from the driver's seat or standing immediately adjacent to the taxicab (within twelve (12) feet), and only when the vehicle is safely and legally parked (Class A).

The assumption being that stopping in the middle of the street, or rolling down the window and calling "where to?", or what have you, would constitute soliciting a fare.

I am not a lawyer, etc etc.

Stephanie (Pure, we're all assuming): Do you think you could look into the costs of keeping the metro running (perhaps at a reduced schedule) until 3am (thus giving drunks the time they'll need to take the two buses typically required in the current hub-and-spoke system)?

If the price isn't completely prohibitive, I think it would be worthwhile to do, say, a 2-year pilot program to see if extending bus service hours to accommodate bar closing time would pay for itself in reduced death, injury, and damage due to drunk driving in that time slot.

Posted by robotslave | November 22, 2006 7:35 PM
The assumption being that stopping in the middle of the street, or rolling down the window and calling "where to?", or what have you, would constitute soliciting a fare.

That would constitute soliciting customers. But hailing a cab is an action on the part of the potential customer, not the driver.

I still don't think this ordinance has anything to do with people hailing cabs (cabbies hailing customers, maybe).

Posted by Phil | November 22, 2006 7:51 PM

Phil, the fact that the ordinance targets drivers rather than passengers was established earlier in this conversation.

It's not illegal for a citizen to wave or whistle at a cab; it's illegal for that cab to stop or otherwise try to pick up that citizen.

Which, as Josh pointed out, is a de facto if not a de jure ban on hailing cabs.

Posted by robotslave | November 22, 2006 8:24 PM

That isn't a "no-hail" rule. It's a "pick-up in a safe place" rule. You can hail them. And they can pick you up. But they have to pick you up in a passenger load zone (unless it's close to a taxi stand, to prevent the drivers who are waiting in the stand from killing the queue jumper).

Posted by Philip Weiss | November 23, 2006 6:37 AM

Weird. I hailed caba all my adult life in Seattle without knowing it was an issue. I had heard this was an issue in Portland, and people I'd go drinking with there seemed to think trying to hail a cab was indeed futile, but the one cab driver I asked about this just shrugged and said "whatever".

I think someone implied this was also a rule in CA? Never had an issue in SF, or met anyone that knew of such a rule.

Anyhow, Taxi stands seem like a good idea to me.

Posted by Dougsf | November 26, 2006 7:05 PM

Stop spreading misinformation! The only thing that is illegal is stopping in an unsafe place (like the middle of the street) to pick up someone hailing a cab. That, and the driver can't get out of his car and solicit business on the sidewalk.

It does NOT say the driver cannot pick up someone who hails their cab. And the city clerk confirms it; read the post at Seattlest ( Here's the relevant quote:

We checked with the city clerk: "The text makes a reference to 'hailed trips' and does not prohibit them. Taxi drivers may pick up a hailing customer in a passenger load zone."

Posted by BobH | November 29, 2006 11:56 AM

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