September 5th & 6th might be days I stay away from the subway! Two days after a major vacation season & Labor Day weekend end, the Taxi Workers Alliance plan to strike! The TWI is going to strike due to the Taxi and Limousine Commission plans to install GPS technology in the city’s 13,000 taxis. Here is an article with more details about the planned strike courtesy of NY1:
Less than two weeks from now, the city may find itself without a major form of transportation. Some yellow taxi drivers announced Thursday that they are set to go on strike over a controversial new technology. NY1’s Transit Reporter Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
The Taxi Workers Alliance says that at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, September 5th its members will go on a 48-hour strike.
“No taxis would be operating on the roads,” said Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai. “We’re asking drivers to keep their cars parked either on the streets or leave them at the garage.”
At issue is a new GPS system, a satellite-tracking technology the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission is requiring in all 13,000 of the city’s yellow cabs. It’s just one in a package of technology improvements that also includes a credit card reader and a video screen in every backseat.
The TLC says GPS will allow riders to track their trip on an electronic map, and make it easier to recover lost property. But the Taxi Workers Alliance calls it an invasion of privacy, arguing drivers’ movements could be tracked even while off-duty – and that any technological snafu will cost them.
“The technology, if it shuts down, the meter shuts down,” said Desai. “If the meter shuts down, the drivers cannot pick up a fare.”
Right now, the group claims about 10,000 members and is working to recruit more.
Whether the TWA can get all 44,000 of the city’s yellow cab drivers to go out on strike is not entirely clear. One rival group, the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, said on Thursday that its members will continue to drive.
“We are going to let our drivers know, there is no strike. Go to work. Do what you have to do. Put food on the table for your family,” said NYS Federation of Taxi Drivers President Fernando Mateo.
But Mateo’s group only claims about six or seven thousand drivers. And some drivers without any allegiance might still participate in a strike.
“The GPS does not bother me,” said one cab driver NY1 spoke to. “The credit card thing does not bother me. The whole thing doesn’t bother me. I don’t know what’s the sweat’s about. [But], I wouldn’t cross the picket line, no.”
TLC Chairman Matthew Daus points out drivers have benefited from two taxi fare increases in the last few years.
“Riders have paid an additional $1 billion directly to drivers’ pockets, (and) were promised technology enhancements in return,” said Daus in a statement.
With the TLC apparently unwilling to budge, it seems some kind of strike is a real possibility, though just how widespread is anyone’s guess.
– Bobby Cuza
I can actually see both sides of the issue here (save the John Kerry jokes please). On one hand, the updated equipment can be seen as a huge victory for passengers. On the other hand, I can see how such an expensive upgrade can eat into what is already a stretched thin pool of money. One major concern I can agree with is the possible loss of fares.
As of now, if the new machines go down, it is taking the fare meter with it. If the fare meter goes down, drivers would lose out on fares. In my opinion, drivers should not have to lose money based on city mandated technology. This is a huge issue that needs to be addressed. Maybe some sort of insurance fund can be set into place for lost fares. However this fund should come at no extra cost to the driver.
The flip side of this debate comes from individuals who feel this is a non issue. Some are of the feeling that the drivers have won out with recent fare hikes. So with this being the case, it is time to give back to the consumer.
Either way this will be a definite hot button issue for the next couple of weeks!
I wonder if livery cabs will worm their way deeper into Manhattan to make some extra money. I know I would if I was them!
I can only imagine the hell that will be the NYC Subway during this strike! Imagine the scene of snobs who think they are too good for the subway having to ride with the so called “common folk”. Can anyone not see at least a couple of incidents stemming from this strike!