Transportation Nation

Discrimination Complaints Trickle In About D.C. Cabs

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Since streamlining the complaint process for racial discrimination among D.C. cab drivers last month, the city is seeing an increase in allegations.
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Monday, February 03, 2014

CAB minutes January 27, 2014

6:30 pm. The Eliot Library, School for Ethical Culture

In attendance – Joyce Lannert (Chair), Judith Cholst, Sarah Lenigan, Ted Schweitzer, David Sztyk, Sue Hornik, Helen van der Voort, John Bacon, Renee Chernow-O’Leary, Anita Aboulafia, Andrew Greene, Gary Brocks, Lue Ann Eldar, Steve Rapkin, Keith Thomas (NYPR Board of Trustees), Jennifer from WNYC. Members of the public: David Sophel and John Knapp

Joyce Lannert (Chair) opened the meeting by asking if there were any comments from the Public. David Sophel said that the website needs to be clearer that the CAB meeting is open to the public

FACEBOOK/OUTREACH Sarah Lenigan went over the procedure to post on Facebook. There was some confusion and difficulty logging in as administrator. Sue Hornik suggested that we should comment under our own name. Sarah Lenigan reiterated that is is important to go back and check post, and then post in own name so it ends up on each wall where friends see it.

It was suggested that we add a CAB email address to Facebook page so the public can contact us directly. Joyce Lannert gave the assignment to figure out Facebook and Sarah Lenigan indicated she will be available to help.

WQXR INSTRUMENT DRIVE – We have not received specific dates yet, possibly the last week of February or the first week of March. John Bacon will post posters in library systems, and Joyce Lannert’s friend will post on Metro-North system. Joyce also asked for posters for CAB members to post in appropriate places. Keith Thomas asked whether we would be looking to the people receiving instruments as a source for CAB members?

RECRUITMENT – Last year we had a recruiting committee who reviewed existing board and identified needs. The committee talked to the station and received a list of partner organizations from whom to find individuals to fill needs. Some organizations responded, others did not. In the end, a total of 23 applicants were found and 12-14 were interviewed. We got good geographical coverage, but a heavy tilt to academics previously - now better. In 2014 we will be looking for more ethnic diversity. We should try to make the web mention of looking for members more targeted. Ideas to increase awareness of CAB application included a humorous spot during pledge week. Andrew Grene volunteered to ask to have the Moth make an announcement of the CAB. In the coming year we will target organizations again and add more, as well as attempt to advertise on air. Recruitment committee - Steve Rapkin, Lue Ann Eldar and John Bacon

FUTURE WORK – We need to enhance our own webpage. Recruitment committee will look at this in light of their charge.

STATION COLLABORATION – After meetings with Laura Walker, Dean Capello, and Graham Parker to find areas of collaboration, Dean Cappello, SR. VP of WNYC of has provided us an opportunity to participate in the Health Care pilot program feedback.  He provided a link to the Health Care pilot program, and Ms Lannert asked that we be prepared to comment or provide written comments at the February meeting. It would also be helpful to invite individuals to that meeting who may have an interest in Health Care. This is a very exciting opportunity for the CAB, and we should attempt to publicize it at the appropriate time.

Joyce Lannert closed the meeting by asking the public if they had any further comment.

David Sophel expressed concern about the number and content of sponsorship announcements. He also had problems finding the information on the CAB meeting and minutes. He suggested that Brian or Leonard interview us to raise awareness. He asked about budget, there is none.

John Knapp suggested that the announcement on radio for the CAB include full URL address. To expand diversity, etc. he also suggested a dial in number for people to listen in to understand what we do and suggested neighborhood break out meetings to expand diversity, etc.

Meeting adjourned 8:15.

Minutes submitted by Helen C. van der Voort




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New York Public Radio’s Community Advisory Board

Monday, November 25, 2013

Judith Cholst, Vice Chair, called the meeting to order at 6:35

Steven Rapkin, co-Vice Chair, introduced the program, turning our attention to WQXR.

Two Board members were present, welcomed by the co-chairs.  Keith Thomas and Ellen Polaner



Transportation Nation

Chaos at D.C. Taxicab Meeting as Cabbies Shout Down Regulators

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A meeting of the D.C. Taxicab Commission ended in an uproar on Wednesday, as nearly 300 cab drivers organized by the Teamsters union erupted in anger when the commission’s chairman attempted to read aloud a letter from an unhappy cab customer.

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Transportation Nation

For D.C. Cab Drivers, Rollout Of Credit Card Payments Has Been Anything But Smooth

Thursday, October 31, 2013


And then there were five: of the eight payment service providers D.C. approved to supply credit card systems to city taxis, three have faced significant problems. Now, the lawsuits are beginning.

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Transportation Nation

Cabbies of Washington Unite! Taxi Drivers Lock Arms with Teamsters

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


D.C. cabbies -- frustrated with a spate of city mandates requiring drivers to modernize their vehicles -- have voted to unionize.

Read More


Transportation Nation

Nine Hundred D.C. Cab Drivers Scramble To Find New Credit Card Payment System

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


For the second time since all District taxicabs were required to accept credit card and smartphone payments beginning this month, another company tapped by D.C. to  process those transactions is having major problems.

Read More




Thursday, September 26, 2013

CAB Minutes



CAB Members Present: Joyce Lannert (Chair), Judith Moldovar Cholst (Vice Chair), Lue Ann Eldar (Vice Chair), Sarah Lenigan (Vice Chair), Steven Rapkin (Vice Chair), Anita Aboulafia, Michael Bauman, John Bacon, Gary Brocks, Renee Cherow-O’Leary, Andrew Greene, Sue Hornik, Swati Khurana, Harriett Olsen, Ted Schweitzer, David Sztyk, Helen van der Voort


Station Representatives: Laura Walker, President of New York Public Radio, Brenda Williams-Butts, Senior Director of Community Engagement and Audience Development, Khim Davis, Manager of Community Engagement and Audience Development


1 member from the public attended


Joyce Lannert opened the meeting at 6:30 pm.


Joyce Lannert

  • Welcomed new members to the 2013-14 year.
  • Introduced Laura Walker.


Laura Walker spoke and answered questions from 6:35-7:25.

  • Station has 3 focuses: program content, digital reach, and listener services
  • Welcomes input and interaction with CAB; encourages contact through email if CAB members have concerns
  • Tries to target news to listeners’ interests (question from Joyce)
  • Commented on Pacifica Media (question from Andrew)
  • Not directly affected by NPR layoffs (question from Michael)
  • NJ staff now has 4-5 reporters; NJ Spotlight offered to Philadelphia; NJ is 1/3 of stations’ listeners (question from Steven)
  • Receives no funding from city or Bloomberg Foundation; station has expanded from 1 reporter when it went public to about 60 (question from John)
  • Tricky to accept funding from foundations;  referred to problems with Citizens United documentary and Rockefeller Foundation donation to study transportation (question from Harriet)
  • Concerned that some murder victims were referred to as prostitutes on news broadcast (LI story); said she would look into this issue further (question from Harriet)
  • Station doesn’t have a public editor, not clear that one is needed; individual shows sometimes have consultants when they’re struggling with an issue (question from Anita)
  • Wants to encourage programs on women’s issues, but should be for an audience of both men and women; audience is 51% women for WNYC; slightly more men for WQXR (question from Renee)
  • Experimental programming at off hours is a “good idea” (question from Michael)
  • Demographics of daytime and nighttime listeners aren’t that different.  AM station has more TV watchers, with a drop-off at night.  Younger listeners don’t listen to AM as much. (question from Judith)


Joyce discussed meeting with Laura Walker, Dean Cappello and Graham Parker over the summer about role of the CAB at 7:30

  • CAB will have 4 meetings with station each year.  Two will be geared to discussions between station executives and the CAB.  Two will encourage larger public participation about issues important to the public.
  • First of these meetings is on Oct. 21 with Dean Cappello about the news division.


Steven and Judith discussed their meeting in July with Graham Parker at 7:35.

  • Graham will meet with the CAB on Nov. 25
  • Graham discussed eliciting CAB suggestions for future festivals (Beethoven, Mozart, etc.).  He also mentioned possible CAB participation in a public outreach program which he asked to keep private for now until it is announced to the public.


Discussion of the CAB’s interaction with the community from 7:40-7:55.

  • Renee asked about the role of Listener Services.  Khim said she will prepare information on what this division does.
  • Harriet asked if the CAB participates in fund-raising.  The answer is no.
  • John suggested CAB members could make thank-you calls to donors as a way to reach the community.
  • Khim is the manager of community engagement.  The list of partner organizations is on-line.  Station has a presence at partner activities, e.g. a table at the Authors’ Fair in Brooklyn.  Jennifer runs the Ambassador Program.
  • Renee suggested holding some CAB meetings in other locations.
  • Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for Oct. 2 at 4 pm.  CAB is invited.


Discussion of CAB calendar.

  • November meeting set to Nov. 25.
  • Meetings will start at 6:30 instead of 7.


Joyce discussed CAB committees at 8

  • Lue Ann will head Outreach committee
  • Sarah will head Social Media committee (Facebook), asked people to be active on Facebook page.  Station can’t put CAB on main page – too many competing requests for space.
  • Recruitment committee
  • Helen volunteered to be secretary.  Harriet also volunteered to help.


Joyce adjourned meeting at 8:10 for social hour.

Social hour concluded at 8:30.


Transportation Nation

Your Five-Boro Taxi Plan Questions, Answered

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Starting this summer, there will be a new taxi in town, and apple green cabs will start plying their trade citywide. Here's what you need to know about New York City's newest class of taxi service.

Read More

Comments [34]

Transportation Nation

NYC's Five-Borough Taxi Hail Plan Can Move Forward: Court

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The green taxis in the outer boroughs finally have a green light.  New York's highest court has okayed New York City's 5-boro taxi plan, after a year and a half of litigation by New York's powerful yellow cab industry.

Read More

Comments [14]

Transportation Nation

D.C. Again Takes On Upstart Competitor To Taxicabs

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The D.C. Taxicab Commission has a message for drivers using the new ridesharing mobile app SideCar: they are breaking the law.

Read More

Comments [2]

Transportation Nation

Taking Uber for a Test Drive in San Francisco

Thursday, December 13, 2012

(Isabel Angell -- San Francisco, KALW) The e-hail concept might have just cleared legal hurdles in New York and D.C., but in San Francisco, it’s faced heated opposition from taxi drivers who say they’re being cheated out of fares to city officials worried about regulations and safety.

Meanwhile, hailing a taxi in San Francisco can be nearly impossible if you’re not downtown. Calling ahead isn’t a guarantee either – often, the cab is late and sometimes it never comes. Of course, there’s an app for that, several actually. The most prominent one, Uber uses GPS to match town cars and taxi cabs with people who need rides. The app figures out where you are, shows the cars near you, and sends the first free one over. You pay with a credit card on file, and the charge includes a tip.

Since 2010, the company has launched its service in 23 cities around the world. It contracts with car companies and individual drivers, and gives them free iPhones to run its software. Because Uber doesn’t go through traditional licensing channels, it’s running into trouble.

An Uber dilemma

I stood on the corner of 48th and Cabrillo, and with no cab in sight I opened the Uber app on my phone. It was eight minutes from the time I pulled out my phone to the time my Uber car showed up. Half an hour later, I arrived at the 16th and Mission Bart station in style – $50 worth of style, actually. I got the email with the credit card charge, a few minutes later.

Now, I did take a town car, instead of the cheaper yellow cab option. It was the closest car when I requested my ride. And we did hit some rush hour traffic. Still, that’s a pretty big chunk of change for a drive through the city, but maybe the convenience is worth it. Uber’s tens of thousands of San Francisco customers seem to think so. I decided to repeat my ride – same time, same corner – but this time, just calling a regular cab.

And instead of seeing a car rushing to pick me up, I got stuck on hold.

[Related Story: Uber Now Legal in D.C.]

Two years ago, Ilya Abyzov found himself in a very similar situation to mine. He had just moved to San Francisco from New York. It was late.

“And I found myself sort of stumbling out of a karaoke place at 2 am in Japantown and wanting to go home to the Mission, and my prospects were either to walk for half an hour or to seek alternatives, because there were no taxi cabs around,” Abyxov remembers.

Uber got him home that night.

“I thought it was amazing,” he says.

So amazing that he applied for a job with the company, and now is the general manager of Uber’s San Francisco operations. Clearly, Abyzov is a fan, but he says Uber fills a real need in the city.

“There’s a lot of excess demand for transportation that cabs can’t fulfill,” says Abyzov.

In most cities, the taxi industry is heavily regulated – it’s considered part of the transportation network. San Francisco is no exception. Part of the reason Uber is so efficient is that it sets up shop first, and asks official permission later, essentially skirting a lot of those regulations. The company has been expanding rapidly, though, and it recently hit legal walls in several cities. Here in SF, two local taxi drivers are suing Uber. Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission slapped Uber with a $20,000 fine, calling its rule-bending “a matter of public safety.”

City officials are concerned about safety as well. Christiane Hayashi is in charge of the taxi division at San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA).

“We make sure that a San Francisco taxi driver has shown us a ten-year driving history, as well as a criminal background check to make sure that there is no crime in their background that would [make] them dangerous when they are alone in a vehicle with somebody,” explains Hayashi.

Uber says it’s just a middleman: a tech company that helps people find cars, but not a car service itself. Still, Ilya Abyzov says the startup does take safety seriously – and that it verifies whether all its drivers are licensed and have insurance.

“We only work with people who satisfy those conditions, we gather and track all those documents, and we verify their compliance,” says Abyzov. “So I think the biggest misconception about Uber is that we’re going rogue, but really we’re working with entirely regulated entities.”

MTA’s Hayashi says she doesn’t buy it.

While it’s not yet clear how the legal cases will shake out, the idea of Uber – or something like it – seems to have taken hold.

San Francisco already has an app that helps people find available parking, using data provided by the city. MTA’s Christiane Hayashi says it’s a model San Francisco is embracing: “I think that’s the next step in making this technology really effective, to get all the city’s taxis in one sort of data stream that then private application developers can use to make taxi service more reliable.”

In other words, to make all the city’s cab information available to companies like Uber, but to keep control over what that information is, and how it’s used.

[Related Story: Data Art -- NY Transit System as  a Lite-Brite City Map]

Steve Webb is a taxi driver in San Francisco. He’s been driving his cab for 25 years. It’s how he put his daughter through college. He shares some of the city’s worries about Uber’s safety, but he says his biggest problem with Uber is something he thinks will bring them down: the price.

“I’ve had numerous people tell me they were standing on a corner, they were very very cold, there was four of them, and Uber charged them sixty dollars for a $12 cab ride.”

That sounded familiar. I asked Webb what he thought of my $50 ride from Ocean Beach to the Mission. He guessed that would have been a $14 meter.

I did my own calculations based on the cab fares listed on the MTA website. Taking traffic into account, it looks like that cab ride would have cost me more like $20 or $25. Unfortunately, I never got to test either calculation with a real ride, because the cab I called from Outer Richmond never showed up. Instead of forking over another $50 for an Uber car, this time, I took the bus.

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Transportation Nation

Lights Out for NYC Taxi "Off Duty" Lights

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The question of "is that taxi free or not?" could soon be easier to answer in New York. On Thursday, the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to do away with the off-duty lights. Here's a visual:

Whereas once there were two categories of lights, with four combinations:

(photo by magnus via filckr)

The city's Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to just have this -- the medallion number:

(photo "adjusted" by WNYC's Stephen Nessen)

David Yassky, the TLC commissioner, said off-duty taxi lights "are a relic of bygone days" and that the rules change will make the system easier to understand.

"The only purpose it serves today is to confuse the passenger," he said, adding that the TLC hears complaints "all time" about rooftop lights. "Taxi roof lights should be simple.  If it's on, it means you can flag the cab down. If it's off, it's unavailable."

(Only one commissioner voted against the proposal: Iris Weinshall, a former NYC transportation commissioner who was in the news last year for her dislike of the Prospect Park West bike lane.)

Yassky said people hailing cabs don't care about the particulars of the lighting system. "The passenger only cares if the cab is available or not."

He said he hopes the new system will do away with another perennial vexation -- the way some cabbies use the off-duty light to cherry-pick customers. "It's a source of frustration (for passengers)," he said. "Sometimes they see drivers with the off-duty sign on go from person to person asking 'where are you going' and we don't want that to happen."

That's currently possible because the switch controlling the lights is manual. But when the off-duty lights fade away, so will the driver's control over the roof light.

According to the minutes of the May 2012 public hearing on the rules change, the single light roof light would eliminate the manual switch that controls the off-duty light. Instead, it would be controlled automatically and synched with the meter. So when the meter is engaged, the medallion number light will automatically turn off, and when the trip is over, the light will turn back on.

The new rule technically takes effect 30 days after being posted in the city record. But there could still be off duty lights on top of cabs until April, which is the end of the first quarter inspection period.


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Comments [7]

Transportation Nation

When 233 Isn't Enough: Disabled Riders Say NYC Needs More Accessible Cabs

Monday, October 22, 2012

There are only 233 taxis with ramps in NYC. (photo by Jim O'Grady)

(Alec Hamilton -- New York, NY, WNYC) One month after the city launched a program to let disabled passengers use cellphones to hail a taxi, some riders say there aren't enough available cabs.

The Accessible Dispatch program allows riders to use phone, text or app to summon one of the city's wheelchair-accessible taxis. There are over 13,000 yellow cabs in New York City, but only 233 of them have ramps.

Anne Davis is on the board of the Center for Independence of the Disabled. She said when demand is low the service is pretty good, but as the day progresses delays tend to grow. "Sometimes you can get a taxi within minutes," she said, "(but) one of my friends waited two and a half hours in the rain. The major problem with the system is that there aren't enough taxis."

According to the program's website, "if the closest available taxi does not accept the job within 120 seconds, the job request automatically jumps to the next closest available cab — and so on, until the job is accepted by a driver."

NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission chairman David Yassky said an effort to put another 2,000 accessible cabs on the streets is currently held up in court as part of the five-borough taxi plan. But he said service has improved.

"We're getting somebody a wheelchair accessible taxi in average of about 20-25 minutes," said Yassky. "We've never done that before. That's really good."

The system is operated by Connecticut-based Metro Taxi and uses GPS to locate and dispatch the nearest accessible cab. Rides must originate in Manhattan.


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Transportation Nation

Taxi Hail App Leaves New York City Yellow Cabs in its Rear View Mirror

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

(Photo by Caitlyn Kim)

In a bitter blog post, the head of a taxi-hail smart phone app said his company was pulling the app out of New York City yellow cabs -- one month after launching.

Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, said bureaucracy had prevented his app from gaining a foothold in the city's taxi fleet.

"We did the best we could to get more yellows on the road but New York’s TLC (Taxi and Limousine Commission) put up obstacles and roadblocks in order to squash the effort around e-hail," Kalanick writes.

Uber allows ride-seeking passengers to hail available cabbies with their smartphones. But the app got a chilly reception when it entered the New York market in September. Only 160 cabbies participated in the UberTAXI pilot -- a fraction of the city's 13,000 yellow cab fleet.

The TLC said it was restricting the use of electronic hail apps due to "current contractual agreements between the TLC and payment processors." A passenger using the smartphone app pays its fare to Uber. But the TLC has existing -- and exclusive -- contracts with two companies (Verifone and CMC) for payment service. The agency says until those contracts expire next year, it can't allow any other company to process fares.

And another obstacle: the TLC also reminded cabbies last month that New York law forbids the use of electronic devices while driving.

While some cities (most notably Boston and San Francisco) are Uber-friendly, the app has met with resistance in other places. The company has been battling the Washington D.C. city council over regulations, and it's being sued in Chicago over its practice of automatically charging a 20 percent gratuity.

"We’ll bite our tongues and keep our frustration here to ourselves," Kalanick writes, not entirely succeeding. "In the meantime you can try UberTAXI in more innovation-friendly cities."

But the taxi app could one day return to New York. TLC commissioner David Yassky said the agency "is moving toward rule changes that will open the market to app developers and other innovators. Those changes cannot legally take place until our existing exclusive contracts expire in February. We are committed to making it as easy as possible to get a safe, legal ride in a New York City taxi, and are excited to see how emerging technology can improve that process."

That rule change could be introduced at a TLC meeting next month.

Uber's car service hail apps -- UberX and Uber Black -- continue to operate in New York.



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Comments [1]

Transportation Nation

12 Hours Behind the Wheel in NYC, With No Food Or Drink

Thursday, August 09, 2012

(photo by Kathleen Horan)

If you're traveling by taxi this summer, chances are your driver is hungrier than usual. Nearly half of licensed drivers in the city are Muslim—and they’re not eating because they’re observing Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting and reflection. That means thousands of cabbies are working 12-hour shifts without food, water or caffeine.

Muslims break their daily fast at sundown. One recent evening, the West 29th Street curbside in Manhattan held so many taxis that the street glowed yellow. This commercial district in Manhattan has free evening parking, a boon for drivers.

Around 8 p.m., as the day's light faded, cabbies rushed into a mosque called Masjid Ar-Rhahman. A mountain of their shoes rose in the vestibule. Soon their sung prayers emanated from a loudspeaker at the top of the mosque. Outside, vendors selling prayer books and sweet treats waited patiently for the cabbies to emerge from inside.

Driver Lansana Keita was one of the first ones out. He smiled as he ate his first food of the day, a sweet rice concoction that resembled rice pudding. "You need something soft after fasting all day, to help your metabolism to digest,” he said.

Keita said his biggest obstacle during Ramadan is keeping up his stamina during a shift that typically features mind-numbing traffic, the threat of parking tickets and the never-ending drone of the TV in his backseat. He said driving on an empty stomach while dealing with the daily guff from passengers becomes a spiritual exercise.

"When someone cusses on you, you have to let it go," he said. "When someone wants to have drama with you, you have to let it go--those are the principles of Ramadan.”

Drivers who chose not to eat in the mosque huddled on the sidewalk in small groups to consume their long-awaited meals.

"I love this: it’s called pakora, samosa and chana,” said Mohammed Tipu Sultan, a driver of 10 years, about his Bangladeshi meal. Sultan made the food disappear in a hurry, like anyone would after fasting for 16 hours.

(photo by Kathleen Horan)

Driver Yehya Abdeen was on his way to get his first caffeine fix at a local cafe before resuming his night shift. He said a purpose of Ramadan is to teach patience—a trait city cabbies aren't always known for.

"I try to be nice all the time, but we try to be more nice during Ramadan," he said, before joking, "But it’s hard when you don't take your coffee, you know?"

During Ramadan, Muslims are required to pray more than the usual five times a day. So you may see drivers stopping to kneel in the direction of Mecca on squares of cardboard or small rugs in the back of bodegas and restaurants.

(photo by Kathleen Horan)

Or at JFK airport. At the airport's taxi lot, hundreds of drivers were lined up awaiting a fare to Manhattan. About two dozen drivers made use of a makeshift prayer area, bowing and kneeling next to a pair of public restrooms.

Tely Diallo, a tall driver in a gingham shirt, was about to jump into his cab again. He paused to complain that it’s hard to make enough money when you're pulling over to pray an extra two hours a day.

"You can't really do what you've got to do," he said. "You can't pray on time. I was supposed to be praying a long time ago but I couldn’t because you're always in a rush, you want to get the lease money."

(photo by Kathleen Horan)

Cabbie Mohammed Waheed said it helps that so many other drivers are fasting with him during the holy month. "The fifteen of my friends who are cab drivers—they all fast," he said.

Muslims, including many New York taxi drivers, will be observing Ramadan this year until the weekend of August 18, when the fasting ends and the completion of a month of self-control is celebrated.

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Comments [3]

Transportation Nation

NYC Approves 17% Cab Fare Hike

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Drivers rejoice & head of TWA Bhairavi Desai is moved to tears after the Commission's vote (photo by Kathleen Horan/WNC)

Bhairavi Desai, head of the drivers group Taxi Workers Alliance, cheering the vote with drivers (photo by Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

The price of taking a cab will be going up in the fall.

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission voted Thursday to approve a fare hike that would increase the cost of a ride by 17 percent.

The TLC estimates that the average fare of $10.44 would rise to $12.21 after the increase is expected to go into effect in September. The plan increases the mileage and waiting charges, but not the base fare of $2.50.

The flat fee between Manhattan and Kennedy Airport would jump from $45 to $52 and the surcharge to/or from Newark Liberty International Airport would also rise from $15 to $17.50.

Commissioner David Yassky said even though New Yorkers will be paying more, they also realize it’s the right time. “Most passengers that I talked to understand that after six years it’s only reasonable to increase the taxi fare,” Yassky commented.

New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission head David Yassky, speaking to press (photo by Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

Six commissioners, including Yassky, voted to approve the hike, two voted no, and one abstained.

Cabbies attending the meeting cheered as they learned the measure they fought hard for was passed.

They were also were pleased by several other aspects of the proposal, including replacing the 5 percent-per-swipe credit card fees with a flat $10.00 fee per shift charge and establishing a driver heath fund.

There had been much angling behind the scenes by large taxi fleet owners who said they also deserved an increase in leasing rates because their costs were also rising. Borough Commissioners from Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn appeared to agree with them when they spoke and voted against the plan. Staten Island Commissioner Elias Arout described giving drivers a raise and not the garages “lopsided.”

Michael Woloz, a spokesman with the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, no stranger to litigating with the city, said they’re reviewing their options. “Time and time again when the TLC has passed unlawful rules we have fought them and the courts have affirmed our position,” Woloz said.

But Bhairavi Desai, head of the drivers group Taxi Workers Alliance, said not having to share the increase with rich medallion owners was a triumph. “We just defeated the 1 percent. We don’t have their money, their lobbyists, or their P.R. people,” a tearful Desai said. ”Today is evidence that working people can still win in this society.”

The commission said going forward, it would consider lease and fare increases every odd numbered year so that neither side of the industry had to wait so long to for an increase again.

Fares last went up in 2006 when waiting time charges increased. The last time overall cab fees rose was 8 years ago, when a 26 percent increase passed.

Read More


Transportation Nation

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.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Detroit's Furious Bus Riders, NYC Taxis To Remove "Off-Duty" Signs, LA To Get More Bikeways

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Top stories on TN:
Transit, Jobs, Construction Noise: Rockland Residents Air Worries About Swiftly Approaching Tappan Zee Bridge Project (Link)
Transit Museum Forum on Back of the Bus is TONIGHT (Link)
NY City Council Bill Would Up Electric Bike Fine (Link)
Study: Only 28 Percent of Neighborhoods Affordable (Link)
As GOP Struggles in Michigan, Obama Chortles — Says Fuel Efficient Cars Will Save $8000 (Link)
New Prospect Park Drive: Defined Lanes, Less Room for Cars (Link)

A Detroit bus stop. (By Flickr user JSmith Photo)

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica thinks that critics who believe Congress can pass a better transportation bill next year are “smoking the funny weed.” (Politico)

Detroit transit riders are outraged over huge bus cuts -- and the mayor's hiring of a private contractor to manage the city's troubled transportation department -- and plan to seek federal help in reversing the mayor's decisions. (Detroit Free Press)

New York Times editorial: the proposed Tappan Zee greenway "could be a splendid public attraction." (Link)

NYC cabs will have to start removing their taxi-top 'off-duty' signs to make way for the new system: available if the medallion number is lit, or unavailable if it’s dark. (New York Daily News)

Rules requiring rear-view video cameras in cars have been delayed again. (AP via Yahoo Finance)

Megabus' weighty double-decker coaches, currently being investigated by New York's Department of Transportation, have run afoul of authorities from Canada to Maryland. (DNA Info)

Worried Democrats want Obama to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gas prices. (The Hill)

The mayor of London said some lines on the Underground would have driverless trains in two years. (Telegraph)

Commercial truck traffic on the NJ Turnpike has declined by 7.5%; high fuel prices and last month's toll hike are cited as possible reasons why. (Star-Ledger)

Nearly five months after a $50 million HOT lane project opened in metro Atlanta, drivers remain dubious, the impact on traffic is unclear, and many questions remain unanswered. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

830 miles of new bikeways have been approved for Los Angeles County. (LAist)

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Ray LaHood Says GOP Wants to "Emasculate" Transit, Tappan Zee Bridge Public Hearings This Week

Monday, February 27, 2012

Top stories on TN:
New Fears Over Revamped Transportation Bill (link)
Mitt and Ann Romney Drive Four Cars (Link)
NY Ports Chief Calls Docks Bastions of Discrimination, Vows Action (Link)
Federal Government Gets Child-Sized Crash Dummies (Link)
Florida Transportation Officials Plug Safety as Train Traffic Increases (Link)
NYC Officials Arrest More for Using Fake Parking Permits (Link)

From "Paradise Parking," a series of photographs of antique cars slowly decaying in nature. (Photo by Peter Lippmann)

The next round of public hearings for the Tappan Zee Bridge rebuild will happen this week in New York's Rockland and Westchester counties. (Poughkeepsie Journal)

Egypt delayed trial proceedings against a group of nonprofit workers --including Sam LaHood, son of transportation secretary Ray LaHood -- until April. (New York Times)

More New Yorkers are charging their cab rides. (Wall Street Journal)

Will gas prices continue to rise if the Keystone XL pipeline isn't built?  (NPR)

Meanwhile: expect sales of fuel-efficient cars to increase if gas prices don't start dropping soon. (Marketplace)

Three pedestrians have been killed in three days along a dangerous stretch of road in Cobb County, Georgia. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SouthCobbPatch)

One reason New York's MTA has an 82% fine collection rate: New York State will take the money out the tax refunds of scofflaws. (New York Daily News)

Los Angeles wants to kill a bus line in favor of light rail service, but advocates say the changes will negatively affect poor and minority communities. (Los Angeles Times)

Sex crimes are underreported on most transit systems, including San Francisco's BART -- where just 95 were documented last year. (Bay Citizen)

New York Times: U.S. should get on board with Europe's cap-and-trade plan for airline's carbon emissions. (Link)

Ray LaHood continues to rail against the GOP's transportation bill, tells crowd at AASHTO event that the Republican plan would "emasculate" transit programs. (Tweet from Ashley Halsey III)

Mitt Romney: "I have some great friends that are NASCAR team owners." (The Hill)

London is putting its new Routemaster II buses into service -- to the delight of the Guardian's design columnist. (Link)

Paradise Parking: a series of photographs by Peter Lippmann of antique cars decaying in nature. Check out more gorgeous pictures at Laughing Squid.

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