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.
The drivers group Taxi Workers Alliance is petitioning the city for a 15 percent fare increase seven years after the last across-the-board fare hike.
Taxi Worker's Alliance head Bhairavi Desai said drivers take home just under $100 after a typical 12 hour shift. Cab drivers are making about 33 percent less today than 6 months ago due to the rising price of fuel, she said.
"Prices have skyrocketed, but our meters have stayed fixed and so we need a raise because without it drivers fall even deeper into poverty," Desai said.
The increase drivers are seeking would increase the mileage rate from $2 to $2.50 and the waiting time by 10 cents. Advocate are also lobbying for added surcharges during the morning and evening commutes.
"At least it would cover the gas," said Beresford Simmons, a driver of 38 years, "where you know you could put in an extra hour to make a profit for yourself but the gas is basically taking that away."
Passenger Leslie Enston of Brooklyn said taxi drivers here work harder but are paid less: "These cabs in New York are actually really cheap so I'd be willing to pay a little extra if they get a better standard of living."
But other cab customers are less enthusiastic.
Dan Gross of Manhattan thinks any fare hike should wait until more cabbies stop refusing to take passengers where they request: "It happened to me the other day. I get into a cab, tell him where I'm going and he said he couldn't take me there. ... I want to help them but they have to help me. I think it starts there."
The Taxi and Limousine Commission said they’ll review the driver’s petition carefully and thoroughly. The agency did not give a time frame for how long that might take.