Streams

Kathleen Horan

Reporter, WNYC News

Kathleen Horan appears in the following:

Taxi Commission Approves Fare Hike

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The price of taking a cab will be going up in the fall. The Taxi and Limousine Commission voted on Thursday to approve a fare hike that would increase the cost of a ride by 17 percent.

Comments [1]

NYC Cab Drivers Push for Fare Hike Ahead of TLC Vote

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Taxi drivers made their feelings known through testimony and signs (photo by Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

(New York, NY - WNYC) Cab drivers from throughout the city came out in force on Monday to push the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission to approve the proposed 17 percent fare hike.

The increase, if approved later this week, would increase charge per mile but the $2.50 base rate would stay the same. The flat fare to and from JFK Airport would also jump from $45 to $52.

Speaking to a room mostly of fare-hike backers during a hearing Monday, TLC Commissioner David Yassky said he supports the measure, which would be the first time in six years that fares have increased.

"The price of a loaf of bread has gone up. A gallon of milk has gone up. Certainly, the price of a gallon of gasoline has gone way up, and I think that taxi passengers understand they have to pay for some of that,” Yassky said.

But approval of the plan isn’t a done deal. Just two of the commission’s nine TLC commissioners appeared at the hearing, and medallion owners have been angling behind the scenes.

At least one borough Commissioner, Frank Carone of Brooklyn, has said he’d vote against the proposal as it stands now because the increase doesn't meet the guidelines for rules that govern fare increases.

But the head of the Taxi Worker Alliance, Bhairavi Desai, said the wait has been too long.

“The idea that hard-working people are earning 25 percent less today than what they earned in 2006 is absolutely unacceptable,” Desai said. “After 12 long hours behind a wheel, collectively serving over a half a million people, there’s no question taxi drivers deserve to make a livable income.”

Fleet owners complained the fare proposal leaves them out. The TLC isn't considering increasing the amount garages can charge drivers for renting the taxi and medallion—otherwise known as lease caps.

Michael Woloz, spokesman for the fleet group the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, urged the commission to consider their rising costs too. He said the price of maintaining a garage is expensive.

“(To) have tow truck operators, gas stations  and mechanics that work 24 hours a day to make sure New Yorkers’ taxi service is that best in the world—that costs money” Woloz said.

He said a 19 percent increase to both fares and lease caps would be more equitable.

But, according to TLC figures, fleets can make about $48,650 per medallion, meaning a 200-cab fleet could make more than $9 million a year, which the TLC doesn’t consider a hardship.

The TLC is scheduled to vote on the plan this Thursday.

Read More

Comment

Drivers Push for Fare Hike Ahead of TLC Vote

Monday, July 09, 2012

Cab drivers from throughout the city came out in force on Monday to push the Taxi and Limousine Commission to approve the proposed 17 percent fare hike.

Comment

NYC Taxi Commission To Vote on Fare Increase This Week

Monday, July 09, 2012

(photo by Kate Hinds)

(New York, NY -- WNYC) By the end of the summer, the cost of a taxi trip may be more expensive.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is poised to vote this week on the first taxi fare hike in six years. The proposed increase would boost fares by 17 percent.

Cab driver Badr Battaoui, 29, said the daily cost of leasing the taxi and medallion, rising gas prices and 5 percent drivers are charged per credit card transaction add up.

“The bills are expensive,” he said during a short break from his 10-hour shift at the corner of Second Avenue and 1st Street. “I'm not going to tell you that I'm poor, but I don't save up that much, you know? I have student loans. My wife has student loans. We have kids."

Cab drivers are also hoping that the TLC will end high credit card fees and institute a driver health fund, which the city is considering for the first time.

Veteran cabbie Brij Jihingen, who has chronic illnesses such as diabetes, said he has been waiting 25 years for a health fund that would set aside 6 cents per ride.

"I have sugar, blood cholesterol and blood pressure-- you name it I have it,” said Jihingen, who, like many of his fellow drivers, does not have health insurance.

A health fund, he said, would show the city values its taxi drivers.

"Because we are working for the city as well… you can see a normal person's health and a taxi driver’s health -- you can recognize a taxi driver from a distance...here's a cab driver coming.”

Taxi passengers have mixed feelings about the proposed increase.

John Salvo, who runs a Soho art gallery and lives in New Jersey, said comparatively taxis are cheaper in New York City than many other cities like San Francisco and Las Vegas.

"They actually do a pretty good job and it’s a pretty fair bargain so perhaps rates should go up a bit,” he said.

Gayle Brown, who lives in Manhattan, said she rides her bike most places and takes cabs only when she’s wearing heels or heading to or from the airport. But she feels for the drivers.

“Well, everybody is pinching and food is going up, everything is going up”, she said.  “I don't blame people for trying. Cab drivers aren't rich. You can see that.”

Of course, not all customers are on board.

Sherri Lynn Graham from the Bronx doesn’t think drivers don't deserve it.

“I think it’s crazy because they're not polite people sometimes, and they don't stop for black people sometimes,” she said. “You know, you want an increase then you should give us the service that we need.”

Also being considered is the elimination of the per-swipe fee of 5 percent cabbies must pay on credit cards, and instituting a flat $9-per-shift charge instead. Fleet owners vehemently oppose the proposal.

Michael Woloz, spokesman for the fleet organization the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade said “the $9-a-shift increase is not an increase at all—also, it’s far less than the 5 percent.”

Woloz said he thought the proposal was a punishment to medallion owners who are currently pursuing a lawsuit against the city to block a plan that would allow livery cars to accept street hails.

While drivers are hoping for a fare hike with no increase in the lease rates, many longtime passengers, like Gina Cecala, 80, of Manhattan are ambivalent about paying more for a ride.

"Dollar more, dollar less — don't bother me, beats walking,” said Cecala, who takes cabs several times a week. “They want it, they get it. That's it.”

The TLC is holding a public hearing on the fare proposal Monday and is expected to vote on the measure this Thursday.

Read More

Comments [1]

TLC to Vote on Fare Increase, Other Driver-Backed Changes

Monday, July 09, 2012

WNYC

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is poised to vote this week on the first taxi fare hike in six years. The proposed increase would boost fares by 17 percent.

Comment

Swimmers Suggest Ways to Restore Order at McCarren Pool

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

It's been less than a week since McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn reopened after being closed for nearly 30 years. Already, a lifeguard has been attacked and three men have been arrested  and charged with second-degree assault for allegedly assaulting a police officer, as well as reports of thefts. Those incidents haven't stopped many from coming out for a swim at the at the Greenpoint-Williamsburg landmark.

Comments [10]

Composting In City Schools Catches On

Monday, July 02, 2012

WNYC

A handful of public schools have been so successful in slashing the amount of cafeteria garbage they created through composting that the program is being expanded by the Bloomberg administration.

Comments [1]

Appeals Court Overturns Accessible Taxi Ruling

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A federal appeals court ruled the city does not have to ensure that all licensed taxies are wheelchair-accessible – meaning the city does not have to overhaul its taxi fleet.

Comment

Look | McCarren, a Pool With a Past

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Among the many city pools opening on Thursday is McCarren Park pool in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The pool, which had been closed for nearly 30 years, has a long, colorful history in the neighborhood. View a slideshow of the McCarren pool through the years.

Comments [11]

NJ Lawmakers Reach Deal on Teacher Tenure

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The New Jersey State Senate voted unanimously Thursday to approve a bill that would make it harder for teachers to obtain and keep tenure.

Comment

Suicide Attempts by Hispanic Girls Decrease in the City

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WNYC

The number of suicide attempts by Latina teenage girls has dropped slightly in New York City, according to recently released data by the Centers for Disease Control.

Comment

Medallion Sale Revenue in Upcoming Budget May Turn into Fiscal Unicorn

Monday, June 18, 2012

WNYC

As the city’s budget deadline looms, questions remain about whether a billion dollars in revenue from the auction of 2,000 yellow medallions — now held up in court — was a wise projection by the Bloomberg administration.

Comment

Low Conviction Rates in Criminal Cases against NYPD

Monday, June 18, 2012

WNYC

Officer Richard Haste faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of first degree manslaughter in the Bronx shooting of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham. But law enforcement experts say officers are rarely convicted in criminal misconduct cases.

Comment

Remembering Sendak at the Met

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

WNYC

The life of artist and children's book author Maurice Sendak was celebrated at a memorial service at the Metropolitan Museum on Tuesday. The creator of more than 100 books, including the classic Where the Wild Things Are, was remembered as a man driven by his need to create.

Comments [2]

DA Urges Alleged Horace Mann Sex Abuse Victims to Come Forward

Monday, June 11, 2012

WNYC

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said on Monday that his office will encourage alleged victims of sexual assaults from a prestigious private school to come forward — even if the incidents happened beyond the statue of limitations.

Comments [1]

NYPD Officer Indicted in Shooting Death of Unarmed Man Ramarley Graham

Monday, June 11, 2012

An NYPD officer has been indicted in the shooting death of an unarmed man inside his Bronx home earlier this year, sources told WNYC.

Comments [6]

Companies Get in the Race for NYC Taxi App

Monday, June 11, 2012

NYC Taxi (photo: Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

(New York, NY -- WNYC) A taxi app competition sponsored by New York City is heating up. The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is accepting proposals for an app that will help passengers pay for their taxi trips with their smartphones.

"You could pre-load your credit card and pre-set the tip amount that you use and that way when you get in a taxi you click that app and you don't have to worry about swiping that credit card at the end," said TLC Commissioner David Yassky.

In addition to the convenience of not having to dig for a credit card before getting out of a cab and having a record of the receipt, at least two of the companies in the running also promise their technology will assist customers in locating a taxi.

One of the competitors, Jay Bregman, who is CEO of the company Hailo, said, “We want to help solve the inefficiencies in the taxi market.” The company already offers a popular taxi app in London. “Why go into the street when you can hail the cab from inside the house or the bar?” he added.

Radios and dispatchers are barred from use in yellow cabs but companies like Hailo said that there isn’t any need for a dispatcher with their app — it’s more like putting your technology in the air, instead of waving your arm in the air to hail a cab.

But some in the industry are against using gadgets to find cabs.

The Livery Roundtable, a group that represents over 300 livery bases in the city, said in a statement: “Digital hailing is just another sleight of hand by the TLC to masquerade its desire to de-reregulate ground transportation … Besides forcing the driver to text and drive — prearranged service is legally the exclusive right of the for-hire service sector.”

But TLC Commissioner Yassky said digital hailing isn’t necessarily their goal — it’s only a function they’re considering.

"App developers are welcome to give us other functions on top of payment … we'll see what comes in," said Yassky.

Another company keen on getting into the city’s taxi market is GetTaxi.

The company’s CEO, Jing Wang Herman, said they’d like to provide drivers with a dashboard-mounted box that will help them connect with customers. In addition to other functions, their app will help disabled customers find a wheelchair-accessible taxi.

Yassky said the number of winners in the app contest depends on the quality of the submissions.

The last day to submit entries is Thursday. Winners are expected to be announced this fall.

Read More

Comment

Companies Get in the Race for the Taxi App

Sunday, June 10, 2012

WNYC

A taxi app competition sponsored by the city is heating up. The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is accepting proposals for an app that will help passengers pay for their taxi trips with their smartphones.

Comments [2]

NYC Parks Seek Corporate Sponsors

Friday, June 08, 2012

WNYC

Move over Citi Field, here comes Acme Courts and Widget Dog Run. For the first time, New York City is selling naming rights to sponsor locations in its parks. The cash-strapped city is hoping to raise $5 million dollars a year by recruiting sponsors for its basketball courts and dog runs

Comments [2]

Widow Elated With Gay Marriage Court Ruling

Thursday, June 07, 2012

WNYC

The 82-year-old New Yorker who challenged the federal Defense of Marriage Act said she was thrilled by the judge's ruling in her favor — even though the decision only affects her case and not other same sex-couples in the state for now.

Comment