Thursday, June 23, 2011
Taxi Cab Confusions
There's been some controversy in our home town of New York lately involving the yellow cab drivers and the livery cab drivers (or as people in Brooklyn refer to them, Car Services, or if you're driving behind one of them simply "asshole"). While illegal, it's a long standing practice of car service drivers in the outer boroughs to stop and pick up customers on the street just like their more formal yellow brothers do, which of course infuriates the hacks to no end. What's really got them pissed is a proposed bill that would legalize these street pickups. They feel this eats into their business, that is the business of picking up every 5th person who hails a cab as long as they live within 2 miles of where they pick you up and aren't black or hispanic. This is what I don't understand about the Yellow Taxi driver's beef: you're more likely to see a unicorn than a yellow cab picking people up in an outer borough. What do they care what the liveries do in some foreign land that they would never pass through? If you open a pizzeria that only delivers to Flushing, why would you get mad when Papa John's opens in Harlem? The livery cabs are satisfying a need that yellow cabs have neglected since Andy Kaufman worked in the garage.
Attempting to hail a cab to Brooklyn on most evenings in Manhattan is like trying to hitchhike naked holding a shotgun. There must be hundreds of off duty taxi cabs on any given night and they all travel in the same area (usually wherever I happen to be coming from that night). Ask most drivers to take you to Brooklyn and you would think you invited them to a sleepover at the Marlboro Projects. They peel off like Indian Dukes of Hazards. And this is if you're white. As I alluded to earlier, most car service drivers are a pain in the ass to drive behind, and they definitely employ their fair share of sketchy characters, but I'm on their side all the way here. Not only are they more efficient and cheaper than the yellow cabs, but they also have a tendency of DYING ON DUTY. Livery cab driver is only slight less dangerous than Alaskan crab fisherman and New York Mets infielder. They don't have the bulletproof glass to protect them either. NYS Taxi Federation president Fernando Mateo invoked the danger aspect in his impassioned speech yesterday, and it's pretty sad that he's right when he says every year they bury a great number of drivers. This isn't police or firefighters we're talking about here, it's a car service driver. But, if they want to risk their lives by picking up any old schmo off the streets, I say more power to 'em. If the yellow cab drivers feel like they'll be left out in the cold if the bill becomes a law, maybe then they'll know how the rest of us feel.