Taxi Strike ’07: Share Your Stories

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With an unknown number of cab drivers on strike as of 5 a.m. today, a sense of mild annoyance has gripped the city.

City Room reports:

At Kennedy International Airport, dispatchers said there were fewer yellow cabs than normal in the morning. Around 7 a.m., about 50 airline passengers waited outside Terminal 9 for a cab and were told that the wait could be as long as half an hour. Joshua Olken, 29, a consultant from Boston who had an 8 a.m. meeting in Midtown, was on the line around 7:30 a.m. “It’s not usually this long,” he said of the line. “Usually there are a lot more cabs than this. I should have taken the train.”

At Pennsylvania Station, the strike appeared to be having an effect. Lines for cabs gathered sporadically around Seventh Avenue. The lines were gradually dispersed when a few yellow cabs came to pick up passengers, but several regular commuters said the wait was twice as long as usual.

How has the Taxi Strike of ’07 affected you?

Photo: LarimdaME/Flickr

  • Didn’t notice a difference on my commute really, but I bike from Brooklyn to Brooklyn.

    I kinda hope they stay on strike, the less cabs in general the better.

  • It hasn’t affected me one bit, but I suspect a few of my colleagues will be taking the Lexington Ave Line later this afternoon for a meeting uptown rather than the usual hailing a taxi. It’s pretty much the same in time, they just like being able to make cell calls and blackberry emails in the taxi.

    The streets were definitely calmer uptown. Not seeing all the taxis cruising for a fare makes a great case for taxi stands in the future, especially with all the hybrids coming…

  • Jason A

    Ugh. Had a not terribly pleasant bike ride into work this morning with all the livery guys inching along and clogging the streets looking for fares. It was a noticeable nuisance.

  • mork

    Took the subway, walked 3 blocks to my office. Didn’t notice much of anything. Maybe traffic seemed a bit lighter — I forgot to notice.

    If anything, I encourage those cabbies who don’t want GPS to stay on strike indefinitely.

  • Spud Spudly

    I still remember the last taxi strike fondly. That one was better because virtually all taxis went out. This morning I still saw a few trolling around.

  • steve

    Had to take train to Delaware this morning, forgot about strike, not enough time for subway. Significant numbers of cabs out but availability tight, couldn’t get one. Liveries were profiteering, one wouldn’t carry me from UES to Penn Sta. for less than $40 unless other passengers for pool were assembled. Went back, got bike, made it to Penn in time for my train, faster than any rush hour cab trip there. Chained my bike to “taxi stand” sign at Penn and reminded (again) that Penn has no bike parking.

  • a planner

    Oh, there was a taxi strike today?

    I took the train to work as usual and haven’t noticed a thing.

    I did take a cab home last night because I had to lug a newly purchased desktop computer. The driver said he was going to strike. At the end of the ride, he mocked me for tipping too low. (The ride way uptown from J&R cost $28 and change, and I handed him an even $30 and was lacking in small denominations.) I should have told him, “Hey, if you accepted credit cards, I would have been able to tip more.”

    The real reason that the cab drivers are striking is that in a cash economy, year-end reporting of tips for tax purposes is done on the honor system.

    Another reason to get rid of the income tax and tax carbon instead.

  • Another Planner

    That was a pretty chintzy tip you must admit.. And did you have him open the trunk for the computer?

  • mork

    Re: Bike Parking at Penn Station

    Is this not available any longer?

    http://www.transalt.org/press/magazine/024Fall/06pennstation.html

  • a planner

    Okay, Okay, the driver did open the trunk for the computer, but this involved nothing more than flipping a switch. But yeah, I admit it: It was a chintzy tip.

    I raise the issue not to draw attention to my own cheapness, but to point out that using credit or debit cards allows one to calculate a tip without worrying about what kinds of bills he or she has on hand. Hence, situations like the above won’t happen as frequently. So the cabbies are striking against their own self interest.

  • v

    how about “another reason to bring the box on the subway.” i might have mentioned the cheap tip, too. though maybe there was nothing left after buying the new computer?

    waitstaff at restaurants always prefer cash tips for the same reason (so did i when that was me). of course, because i was earning tips (reported or not), the restaurant could legally pay $2.13 an hour. it makes a bad tip even more disheartening.

  • Frank

    Then again, when is New York City not gripped by a sense of mild annoyance? Actually… mild annoyance would be a good day. Most times I’d say the city is gripped by an overwhelming feeling outright aggravation.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Planner, you do know they make change, right? I would have just given him two twenties and said “Give me $7 back, please.”

  • a planner

    Fine, I admit it: I haven’t taken a cab in like two years. I forgot about good tipping etiquette.

  • Gilberto

    Is there secure bike parking at Penn Station? Mork’s link is from a year ago. Did the parking ever open?

  • steve

    Mork, thanks for the link. I have never noticed that facility although I have used the entrance near where it is located before. I note that the T.A. announcement speaks in the future tense (facility “will open”) and the picture is an artists’ rendering. Has anyone used this facility lately?

  • I don’t think that Penn Station bike parking facility was ever built.

  • Ian D

    All the interviews on NY1 this morning were along the lines of, “least-stressful commute in years,” “no wonder there’s no honking in my neighborhood today,” and “I didn’t get cut off once (while driving)”.

    And I can say, my ‘hood is really quiet! Where are all the car horns? Maybe it’s no peace on Earth, but there is peace on Sullivan St.!

  • v

    credit cards add a bit to your (past destination) length of stay in the cab, so there’s a time issue. there’s also the cost (% of transaction) to the proprietor. but i imagine that the gains a planner mentions are easily measurable.

    maybe cabbies would be more amenable if using a credit card involved a $1 fee? it kind of drives me nuts that ny is the only city in the country where it is hard to use a debit/credit card. europeans might not spend on credit, but they sure do use debit (or pin) cards for everything.

  • momos

    C’mon guys, where’s the love? Cabbies are not the problem. They’re immigrants sitting behind the wheel in NYC traffic for 10 hrs a day, getting screamed at by everybody, and barely making $25-30 grand a year while trying to support many needy and expectant family members back in India, Haiti, Bangladesh or Pakistan. They drive Upper West Siders toting brand new computeres from J&R Music World all the way up town and get a $2 tip, a drop in the bucket towards the $50 gas bill they face at the end of their shift.

    And as a regular bike commuter, I can attest that cabbies are far easier to deal with on the road than black cabs, SUVs, and Acura TL drivers. (Luxury sedans with Jersey plates are the worst.)

    Taxis obviously aren’t the most ideal piece of the transportation system, but they are a form of car sharing even more efficient than ZipCar.

  • momos

    If it wasn’t clear who’s side I’m on, I totally support the striking cab drivers. Their working conditions are abysmal. The strike is fundamentally about economics, not GPS technology. The new gadgets will swallow nearly 10% of a cabbie’s already paltry annual income. Is that a fair trade off so that fashion models & newspaper editors can gaze at multimedia advertisements in the backseat (revenue which inevitably will go to Clear Channel and the like)?

  • Alex

    On Second Avenue today yellow cabs were driving off-meter and picking up passengers for $10 flat fares, like gypsy drivers. Outrageous.

  • drosejr

    Uh, Alex, that $10 flat fare is part of the contingency plan that the City announced as a way to deal with the cabbie strike. Those who are driving get $10/person to take multiple passengers within specified zones in the city, and $5 per extra zone. Pretty good deal for those cabbies who chose not to walk out.

  • jmc

    Momos- The fare increase of 2006 was granted with the agreement that the cab drivers would install the GPS systems… so they’re really breaking their agreement rather than being “forced” to do something.

  • gecko

    Probably have taken one taxi in the last 7 years; because it was real late, had to drop someone off, and go to work the early next morning. Would much rather walk a mile than take a cab.

    Drivers are the working poor and should be much better compensated by at least a factor of two with benefits. The vehicles are dinosaurs and should be hybrid human-electric.

  • v

    right on, momos.

  • mork

    Re: Penn Station Bike Parking

    I just checked out the area where I thought the parking was supposed to be — it’s an underpass between 31st and 3rd street, closer to 6th Ave.

    Absolutely no bike parking there.

    They probably decided that bike riders are terrorists. I would have to hear the real story though. T.A.?

  • steve

    Thanks for the f/u, Mork. Maybe T.A. can shed some light.

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