Cab rant

I just remembered, I wanted to rant about the cab ride to Midtown last night. Three of us pre-gamed at the Silly Goose for a drink, then walked down to Beale where cabs were lined up. We got in a Yellow Cab, one of the ones with the 577-7777 number.

Yellow Cab has a new dispatch system that uses Samsung tablets with GPS on them. The cabbies brag about how it’s the most sophisticated system in America. Unfortunately, all the technology in the world does not make up for a lack of training.

The driver asked where we were going, and we said, “Young Avenue Deli.” He looked like he didn’t know where that was, so we added, “Corner of Cooper and Young.”

He still had no idea where we were going. “Can you give me an address?” he asked. I knew that Cooper intersects Young in the 2100 block, so I said “2159 Young.” That was off by a little but not much, and he was able to punch it into his GPS and get a route out there.

Seriously, do they not give cab drivers even the most basic training, beyond how to use the GPS device? If I owned a cab company, I would expect my drivers to know how to get to at least the following at a minimum:

  • Areas with popular nightspots: Beale Street, South Main, Cooper-Young, Overton Square, Broad Avenue Arts District, Highland Strip
  • Major sports venues: FedExForum, AutoZone Park, Liberty Bowl
  • Major theaters: Orpheum, Playhouse on the Square, Theatre Memphis
  • Malls: Oak Court, Wolfchase
  • Popular tourist spots: Rendezvous, Graceland, Civil Rights Museum, Peabody Hotel
  • Transportation: The airport, the train station, the bus station
  • Hospitals: Baptist, Methodist, The MED, St. Jude, LeBonheur

I would also expect them to be able to recite the major streets from memory. Heck, I’ll do it. From north to south: Frayser Boulevard, James, 240, Chelsea, Jackson, North Parkway/Summer, Poplar, Madison, Union/Walnut Grove, Peabody, Central, Southern, South Parkway, Person, Mallory/Norris/Ball/Ketchum, 240, Brooks, Mitchell/Winchester, Raines, Shelby Drive, Holmes. From west to east: Riverside, Front, Main, Second, Third, Danny Thomas, Manassas, Pauline, 240, Bellevue, Cleveland, Belvedere, McLean, Cooper, East Parkway, Hollywood, Highland, Perkins, Mendenhall/Mt. Moriah, White Station, 240, Ridgeway, Kirby Parkway, Germantown Parkway.

And yeah, it’s easy for me because I’ve been a Memphian for many years. But tell me a person of average intelligence could not spend one day studying a map and be able to pass a test on this stuff.

Furthermore, after a year on the job I’d require my drivers to pass another test, with questions like the following, no help from a GPS allowed.

  • Take me to Alchemy.
  • Take me to the Downtown Gus’s.
  • Take me to the nearest Huey’s.
  • If Music Fest were happening right now, take me there.
  • Take me to the city motor vehicle impound lot.
  • Take me to Overton Park.
  • … and probably 15 similar questions.

A driver with a year’s experience ought to know most questions of this type, without consulting a GPS, if they’ve been paying attention.

Oh, I have another question. Our driver last night had that fancy-schmancy Samsung tablet. Why, then, should we have to tell him the address to Young Avenue Deli? Why couldn’t he start a Yellow Pages app and LOOK UP THE ADDRESS?????

Okay, rant over. Until Yellow Cab gets its act together better with these tablets, I’m going to be calling Arrow (323-3333) when I need a cab. Alternately, I’ll use the Taxi Magic app on my iPhone (and guess which is the one cab company whose dispatch system doesn’t work with Taxi Magic? Here’s a hint: They use fancy Samsung tablets.)