Janet Lee

Janet Lee
Photo:Janet Lee, injured by a taxi partition.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

"I pick up everybody,that’s my job." Forced labor?

Editorial Column from the New York Times

Celeb Messages Make Cabs Safer?

"I Don’t Think So"

Many of the city’s 12,187 cabs have partitions to protect drivers from assault. But the partitions also reduce passenger space, making taxi rides terribly uncomfortable for virtually all adults.
More importantly, injuries are sustained by passengers striking the partition in short stops or other accidents.
"I’ve asked Diane McGrath-McKechnie, chairwoman of the Taxi and Limousine Commission, if the agency knows “how many passengers in the last four years have suffered injuries to their faces and/or heads as a result of striking the partition,” and if the agency has issued a request for proposals for new taxis “setting standards for greater passenger comfort and safety”?"

Her reply is no. She adds: “I am happy to report that, through the creation of our Celebrity Talking Taxi program and other educational efforts, more and more passengers are today taking advantage of their seat belts, difficulty or no.”

"I doubt it."

Take Us There, Or Else . . .  TLC finds and fines hacks who won’t go.
Daily News Staff Writers
Cabbies who refuse to take you where you
want to go now face stiffer penalties, fines and
a full-time force of investigators who are out to put the brakes on a chronic problem.
Bombarded by rider complaints, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has for the first time assigned a group of inspectors to address the issue full-time.

“We’re aware that it’s a problem,” said Allan Fromberg, TLC spokesman. “It’s enough of a problem for us to design a special program to deal with it.”

The first blitz by the undercover inspectors last month nailed 36 cabbies — 12.5% of 288 taxis they hailed — who refused to take them to their destinations. The drivers were whacked with $350 fines.

“Too often [cabbies] dump riders if the ride is to a bad neighborhood,” said passenger Ann Talbot of the Bronx. Refusals accounted for 1,730 of the 10,609 complaints filed with the TLC from January through October.

Some cab drivers, however, think the crackdown is too harsh. Citing safety and calls of nature as good reasons to refuse passengers, one driver yesterday called the TLC’s actions flat-out “wrong.”

“If I feel there’s going to be danger, I keep going,” admitted Charles Harrison, 38, a driver from Brooklyn. “Sometimes, you look at a passenger and it’s not safe,” agreed Tony Chow, 43, of Flushing, Queens, who has driven a cab for almost nine years. “And sometimes you need to go someplace — the bathroom, or change of duty.”

Another reason cabbies refuse some trips: money.  Rides to the boroughs outside Manhattan, especially during peak rush times, are especially dreaded because they take hours without any guarantee of a return passenger, Fromberg said.
“If one of my decoys asks the cab driver to go to Brownsville [Brooklyn], and he says, ‘No,’ the reason isn’t, ‘I’m worried about being in Brownsville,’ but, ‘Am I going to get somebody back from Brownsville to midtown?’ “ Fromberg said. “I’m not pooh-poohing the racial element. But [this problem] is driven by economics.”
And shift changes, which require the driver to return the cab to the fleet, cause as many refusals, said Larry Goldberg, president of Local 3036 of the taxi drivers union.
Regardless of the reason, drivers found guilty will face stiff penalties.
Punishment for a second refusal offense is a $500 fine and mandatory retraining. A driver found guilty three times within three years will have his or her license revoked.

TLC rules require drivers to take passengers anywhere in the five boroughs and to Newark Airport and Nassau and Westchester counties.

It is illegal for drivers to demand a fare for a destination before taking a passenger there. It is also illegal for drivers to bypass people trying to hail them, a practice often aimed at black riders.
One taxi driver with a 29-year career praised the TLC’s new enforcement of the regulations. “It’s the law,” said Raymond Carde, 68, of Manhattan. “Everybody should take the customers where they want to go.”
Another driver, Junior Etienne of Brooklyn, agreed. “I pick up everybody,” said Etienne, 33. “That’s my job.”

"It sounds like a suicide pact to me."

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