Taxi drivers from across the city got an ear with the new Taxi and Limousine Commissioner, David Yassky, at an event hosted by WNYC this afternoon. The drivers took the opportunity to share their concerns about the TLC and their jobs. Many drivers shared driver John McDonagh's concern about the 50 cent surcharge that went into effect six months ago, to help subsidized the financially strapped MTA.
"People think it's a tip," McDonagh said. "If you can just make the initial drop $3.00, this way when people are tipping you they won't see the 50 cents -- it will be all incorporated into the initial drop. Because I can just tell you now people get in, tourists particularly -- what's that extra 50 cents? You're constantly explaining."
Drivers also spoke up about the five percent they pay for every credit card charge, competition from non-licensed drivers, and racism from passengers. TLC Commissioner Yassky, who has been in the job for two weeks, told the drivers he looks forward to working with them on these and other issues.
"I regard the drivers as among our main customers," he said. "Will we always serve you at 100%? I would like to think that we have a shot at that, but even if we don't, we're going to work as hard as we can to get there."
Photos by Stephen Nessen