|The Voice of the NYC Transportation Industry - June 2002|
Last month we addressed the "Problem with Doormen," one of two major issues discussed by the NYC Cab Driver. Now, let's briefly discuss the NYC Cab Drivers other major issue of discussion, a rate of fare increase. Drivers say they can't wait any longer for a rate of fare increase. The Taxi & Limousine Commission is collecting trip sheets from every Fleet and Licensed Leasing Agent. Inspectors are asking for one week's trip sheets for ten medallions. Does one assume that the purpose of the collection is to truly see what the NYC yellow taxi driver earns per shift? The TLC is getting first hand information as opposed to relying on information from other taxi industry sources. No matter what the figure show, every driver I speak with agrees that six years is too long for anyone to wait for an increase in earnings.
Let's imagine that the rate of fare on the meter determines when prices are raised for all related industries. Gasoline prices would have been frozen at $1.15 for the last six years instead of the present price of $1.69. The price of a new taxi would have been frozen at $18,000 instead of the present price of $24,000. Liability insurance for taxis would still be less as would fire, theft and collision coverage. Repairs on all cabs would still be at 1996 rates for brakes, tires, oil changes, and major repairs. Everything from car washes to the food cab drivers eat would be frozen at 1996 prices. How about the salaries of every employee of City agencies who work with the taxi industry, like the Dept. of Finance employees, the NYPD, the TLC & Traffic officers. The only person I know of that didn't get a raise the last six years is Mayor Bloomberg. The prior Mayor Guiliani certainly received a large increase in salary during his administration. Imagine parking tickets half of what they are now. Let's not forget the employees of the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, taxi dispatchers and doormen. Maybe the tolls at every river crossing should have been frozen also. If all the above stayed the same as it was in 1996, I would agree that the rate of fare should do the same. But for g-d's sake, I can't think of anything that is the same price now, as it was in 1996. Six years is too long without a rate increase.
Senator Schumer stated that driving a cab is a respectable way to earn a living. (The Senator's father in-law drove a cab for 40 years.) So why haven't we seen a rate of fare increase? What will it take to simply do the right thing and give hard working taxi drivers the same courtesy? I wish I had the answer. I want to hear your comments. Write to Taxi Insider, 23-10 Jackson Avenue, LIC, NY 11101.
SAVING TIME FOR DRIVERS AND OWNERS
The Taxi & Limousine Commission has held two meetings for industry representatives to discuss their plans for the future. More specifically discussed, was how to make it more efficient for drivers and owners to fulfill their recurring responsibilities at the TLC offices. One of the biggest problems regarding time restraints is the amount of time it now takes to simply put a name on a rate card. Over 24,000 drivers appeared at the Long Island City TLC offices at 32-02 Queens Boulevard in the year 2001 for the purpose of adding or changing a name on the rate card. How many times has a driver tried to have his name added to a rate card late on a Friday afternoon, only to lose the entire weekend of work? Plenty! How many hours were wasted doing paperwork when the taxi could be servicing the public? All that is going to change. The TLC has a solution. In the future, licensed leasing agents and fleets (like members of the Committee for Taxi Safety) will be able to file a lease electronically. Not only will the lease card be completed through the Internet, no more names will appear on the backs of rate cards at all! That is correct, the driver name will be filed electronically too. Regulatory agencies will have remote computer access when needed. The new driver's information will be added to the TLC computer immediately saving 24,000 visits multiplied by hours and hours!
Drivers who did not renew their hack licenses by mail but renewed their hack licenses by physically going to the Taxi & Limousine Commission, numbered over 8,000 in 2001. In the future, you will be able to renew your hack license application over the Internet in an attempt to reduce that number. Of course there are things you can't do over the Internet like the required drug test and updated safety and defensive driving courses.
Additional changes will occur in the adjudications process at the Taxi & Limousine Commission offices in Long Island City. Did you ever have to go before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the Taxi Commission in Long Island City? The biggest waste of time was waiting for a disposition in order to pay a fine and get a clearance or receipt. Instead of hours being wasted, in the future you will get a disposition from the ALJ before you leave the hearing room, allowing you to pay a fine immediately. This should save drivers and owners thousands of hours every week.
If you have ever received a summons for Failure To Appear (FA) you must pay $200 or you will stay on the driver/medallion suspension list until a hearing is scheduled. This will change too. In the future, when you pay the $200 you will be taken off the suspension list immediately pending a hearing with a good chance of getting your money back!
Positive changes are taking place and will continue to take place under
the leadership of NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission Chairman Matthew
W. Daus. Thank you for listening to taxi industry problems and working
with the taxi industry to make positive changes that benefit the City
of New York. Keep up the good work!
Director of the Committee for Taxi Safety, David Pollack speaking about
the Taxi Job Expo with Senator Charles Schumer (R) and NYC TLC
Chairman Matthew Daus (L).