Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Livery car and yellow cab drivers said the steadily rising cost of gas is threatening their livelihoods. And with the average price for a gallon of gas at $3.82 in New York City, some drivers say they're paying an extra hundred dollars a week at the pump.
"[The] garage doesn't have to pay anything. [The] medallion owner doesn't have to pay anything. We the taxi driver has to pay from his own pocket and nobody damn cares," fumed three-year veteran Zee Saleem. "The fare of the customer is the same — we are losing.”
Brooklyn livery car driver Lenny Diaz said several weeks of rising prices — which is the highest it's been in two years — is causing him stress and he is bringing home about half of what he used to.
"I was able to clear like $200 or $300 a week after paying expenses," he said, "but now sometimes its very hard for me to make 150 bucks."
Not everyone in the industry is feeling the same burn in their wallet at the pump. Cabbies who lease or rent hybrids said they're saving about a 1/3 of what they'd pay if they drove traditional all gas vehicles.
Driver Ali Mohammed said he purchased his green cab three months ago, and it's already paying off: "It's worth it to have a hybrid. I knew it (the price of gas) was going to go up ... so I got it. It's nice."
Many non-hybrid drivers are calling on the Taxi and Limousine Commission to help them offset gas prices by approving a fare increase.
The last time the city raised overall fares for passengers was in 2004. Two years later they also increased the amount drivers make when stuck in traffic.