24 August 2007

NYCabbies are threatening to go on strike

"The union representing Yellow Cab drivers said yesterday cabbies should strike for 48 hours to protest Taxi and Limousine Commission orders that they put Global Positioning System devices in their cars.

Cabbies claim the devices rob them of privacy by letting the city track their movements, and cost them money."

"The city's Taxi & Limousine Commission has ordered all medallion owners to install GPS devices in their vehicles as part of a large package of technology upgrades, including credit and debit card payment devices, passenger television screens, and a text-messaging box that would alert drivers where and when in the city they were needed. All 13,000 yellow cabs are required to install the technology package by January.

Drivers are protesting the new technology, which could cost up to $7,000 to install, on the grounds that the GPS devices that would track their meters constitute a violation of their privacy.

About 1,200 drivers have already installed the devices, and many are reporting that it causes their meters to break down more often and costs them time on the job.

The GPS "is simply being used for tracking," the executive director of the Taxi Workers Alliance,
Bhairavi Desai, said yesterday at a press conference in front of Pennsylvania Station. "They're not navigational, cannot be used for dispatching, and serve no purpose to the driver or the public."

OK, lets be honest here, Bhairavi...

There are about 44,000 taxi drivers in total, driving 13,000 cabs in NYC everyday. No one is going to be monitoring or "tracking" their movements. It's a bullshit argument. GPS is no different than EZPass in that way and since when do cabbies care so much about their privacy?! You want privacy?, then do something else.

I'm sure some cabbies don't want the GPS because then the customer may complain if they take an, um, alternative, route. However, despite what you may believe and despite what most assume their issues are with the GPS, cabbies want QUANTITY of calls; they want VOLUME. They'd rather have 10 calls than have you in the cab for an hour taking you from Union Square back to Kew Gardens no matter how much the fare will be because now they've gotta drive back to the city to get back in the game and they eat shit on the return trip. Cabbies wanna keep moving; keep passing the human baton their whole shift; thats how they make money. So a device that gives them the best or most direct route isn't their enemy but its also sort of unnecessary. I really don't see the point of cabs having a GPS, not for Manhattan at least.

"This is an issue that is affecting every single taxi driver on the street," said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of strike organizers the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. "I have never seen drivers this angry before."

Never? Isn't being angry a prerequisite of being a cabbie?

"The city's Office of Emergency Management yesterday confirmed it was drawing up a contingency plan to ease chaos the strike could cause.

A different taxi union yesterday opposed the strike.

"Read my lips, there will be no strike," said Fernando Mateo, of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers.

"It's not called for. It's unfounded and it's unfair. It's not fair to the drivers and it's not fair to the people of New York."

A TLC insider said he doubted any action would even be noticeable.

"Owner drivers are doing very nicely, and lease drivers are paying every day, whether they work or not, and they don't want to be losing money," he said.

"Maybe a handful of fleet drivers would be sympathetic and strike, but you won't notice a difference."

TLC chairman Matthew Daus said yesterday, "Riders have paid an additional $1 billion directly to drivers' pockets, and were promised technology advancements in return. They deserve to have that promise kept."

From The Times: Rival Drivers’ Groups Disagree on Likelihood of Taxi Strike

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