The Voice of the NYC Transportation Industry Current Issue
Cabbies Help Prevent
should be proud of the thousands
The streetlights flickered and then went out for good. People in offices, at home or shopping in stores stopped in their tracks and held their breathe for a few seconds waiting for the lights or their computers to go back on immediately. They did not.
At 4:10 PM the entire region stood still. Every person was facing the same disaster, no electricity. The lights in Times Square were extinguished as though one big switch was accidentally pushed eliminating the lights on the great white way. Most people were initially in shock
Tens of thousands of New Yorkers and others flowed out of buildings filling the sidewalks and part of every street as they tried to get back to where their conscious told them to go. Most wanted to get home, some needed assurances that their parents or children were okay. Hundreds of thousands of cell phones were pressed to desperate ears hoping to reach loved ones just for assurances that all was well.
Were we spoiled? Have we taken for granted the electric subway system that gets us to work, or the water from our faucets that is electronically pumped from the water towers on top of every building in New York City?
As the initial shock ended along with whispers of terrorism, tough New Yorkers started to do what we do best, help each other survive.
Seven million people a day ride the NYC subway system and after 4:00PM about 3 million still must get either get home, to work or just around town. Hundreds of thousands headed for the bridges connecting Manhattan with Queens, Brooklyn and The Bronx. Tunnels were closed to vehicles and pedestrians, as bridges ultimately were closed to traffic heading into Manhattan.
Later that day stores set up tables outside their domain and were giving away everything from ice cream to sushi! Good Samaritans helped direct slow moving traffic at almost every intersection.
Here are two taxi stories that occurred during the blackout.
1. Sylvia was shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue. Driving in from Long Island earlier that day, she parked her car in Queens and took the subway into Manhattan. Taxi drivers know why, no traffic and you don't have to sell your stock top park your car. The lights went out and Sylvia found that another shopper needed to get to Queens too. Getting to the bridges was almost impossible by cab. Cabbies were shuttling as many people as they could through the streets of Manhattan, just as we had done in September of 2001.
Sylvia and her new companion started to walk east towards the 59th street bridge when a yellow taxi with his off duty light on rolled up next to them. They announced their destination to Queens and the driver told them to get in because he was going home. Maneuvering through the crowds of uncountable people and what seemed like hours, they were finally on the Queensboro bridge headed to Queens driving at the same pace as the walkers surrounding each vehicle.
But then a police siren is heard and the police cruiser catches up this yellow cab on the bridge. A police officer announces that they will need to place their passenger in the cab, a woman ready to give birth.
How often does a yellow cab get a police escort through a sea of human obstacles? The yellow cab and escort made it to the hospital in minutes, in time to help the new soon to be mom. The police escort drove off to attend to other emergencies. A man asked if he could catch a lift with the ladies for he too lived in Queens. All three passengers were trading their unique stories about the day when they arrived at the first woman's destination. The cabbie refused to take any money. Sylvia and the final passenger reached their destinations and once again the driver refused to take any money.
"I was going home anyway and glad I could help you" is what the cabbie said. Many people now think differently about New York City cabbies. Sylvia told me that she forgot to get the driver's name and that he had only been driving for three months! America should be proud of cabbies like this new shining example of our NYC yellow cabbies.