By Don McCurdy


New York, New York.

New York City has had a plethora of taxicab related issues this last month. From allowing livery vehicles to pick up street hails to livery drivers carrying firearms the hits just keep on coming. Now, I realize that the issues are complicated, but I’m going to try to break them down into simple bite sized chunks keeping in mind that you eat an elephant one bite at a time.

. . . . . Law suit halts outer borough livery hail plan.

They sued! The yellow cab medallion owners are suing to stop the outer borough livery hail plan which had just passed the TLC by a vote of 7 - 2. Who didn’t see that coming? It seems readily apparent to me that Mayor Bloomberg’s inability to get the proposal past the city council is why it ended up with the state. I may have been wrong. Based on the current attitude in DC of “who cares what the people want I think we should do this” Bloomy may look a bit presidential after all. Isn’t that exactly what appears to be happening with the outer borough livery plan?

His honor couldn’t get it past the legislative branch so he circumvented the very laws he swore to uphold to get it passed at the state level. Am I the only one who thinks the mayor could care less about the industry, the riders or the medallion holders. Is he only interested in the revenue the sale of 2,000 new yellow taxi medallions, part of the Livery Plan, will generate so he doesn’t have to be the mayor that had to cut back on city services to balance the budget? New York City is in line with a growing number of US cities that are on the verge of financial collapse and are using every trick in the book to pass the burning torch to the next guy. Bloomberg should, being a businessman and all, know that you can’t say yes to everything and call it good management.

. . . . . What! Livery drivers can't carry guns to protect themselves!

They shot it down! It’s reported that the Livery Base Owners requested that the TLC allow livery drivers to carry guns to protect themselves. You’re kidding right? In New York City? The first sentence of the article I read reminded us of DeNiro’s character in the movie Taxi Driver. Does that give us a clue as to the writer’s opinion on the issue? Of course, the TLC declined, but their reported response was telling, “It is important for public safety and perception to disallow any weapons in the vehicle.” Now, I’m not exactly sure how it is important for “public safety” or exactly how you prevent “any weapons” in the vehicle. It gives you the idea that you can prevent any “legal” weapon in the vehicle. Maybe one of those stickers on the rear windows, “Warning, no weapons allowed in vehicle!” Yeah, that would probably do it. I guess there isn’t a second amendment in New York City. From a public safety perspective it would be gratifying to know that if there was a problem there would be nothing the driver could do to help.

. . . . . Police ordered to stop searching taxi and livery passengers.

How are we going to be safe? New York City’s police chief has ordered that his officers stop searching taxi and livery passengers unless there is a crime involving the vehicle or an obvious safety issue. Apparently, the driver’s participation in the Taxi/Livery Robbery Inspection Program was reason enough for the officers to pull the passengers out of the vehicle and search them. I would think that the driver telling the officers there wasn’t a problem would have been enough, but you have to be careful the rules are detailed when you give the police new authority. Vague “programs” attempting to improve safety without regard to a person’s rights should be left up to the trained professionals at the TSA.

. . . . . Ban the Central Park hansom carriage rides.

Do these people ever mind their own business? Animal rights groups are lobbying the state of New York to ban hansom cab rides. The bill also prohibits people from buying a former “carriage” horse and using it for work purposes. The primary sponsor of the bill, Tony Avella, D-Whitestone, is reported to have said "This is a battle at the end of the day we're going to win." I doubt if this civic leader thought through the idea that horses are sold every day that are shipped to other countries to be eaten. Take away their value as work animals and where do they go? Animal rights? At least they’d still have the right to remain silent.

. . . . . New taxi course will be designed to help NYC taxicab drivers ID prostitutes.

How stupid is too stupid? A recent article describing the new anti sex trafficking course that may be mandated for all NYC taxicab drivers brought that question to mind. The course will be designed to help taxicab drivers ID prostitutes. Excuse me? So if a couple of young women get in the cab and the driver misidentifies them who pays for sensitivity training? No wonder the city is broke. Taxicabs are a method of transportation, right? You have to ask yourself, how much good government can one city stand? I mean really, even for NYC this proposition,
pun intended, is strange.

. . . . . All taxicabs should be wheelchair accessible.

So, who, exactly is in charge? To further muddy the water on the outer borough street hail extravaganza the city comptroller rejected the contract for 2,000 new yellow cabs because he believes it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. He may have a point since the city is currently on the losing end of a federal lawsuit stating just that with appeals in the works. Frank Carone, an apparently renegade TLC commission member, has proposed that all taxicabs should be wheelchair accessible. Where have I heard that before? Carone’s suggestion would certainly solve the problem of wheelchair accessible taxicab service. This entire situation has me in total awe of the genius that is reported to be in charge in New York City. He falls for the climate change gag and pursues “green” cabs with gusto and fights accessible cabs tooth and nail. Yep, the voters sure got their money’s worth with this joker. I believe I’ll just sit back and watch the show with my Big Gulp and jumbo popcorn. They’re still legal here in Texas.

What would happen if?

Notification that the fuel surcharge was being activated for Philadelphia taxicabs got me to wondering; what would happen if the United States started drilling with enthusiasm? No, not the phony “we’re drilling everywhere,” but the real deal like they are doing in North Dakota. Haven’t heard about North Dakota? You know, where the unemployment rate is 3.0%. Now let’s just expand that out a bit. Let’s say we started drilling like that across the country. Flood the market with oil. Open a couple of new refineries to expand production of refined petroleum products. What would happen then? Well, for one thing the price of gasoline would drop like a rock. Suddenly, everybody, especially transportation providers, would have extra money in their pockets to spend on goods and services. Why some of us might even go on vacation to Europe and help their economy. I wouldn’t, but somebody might. Regardless, we could stop sending so much of our money to the Middle East, Iran wouldn’t have the money to be a world bully, Russia would have to be nice to the rest of Europe or lose them as customers, Hugo Chavez would have to sell his gasoline to someone he likes for a lot less and employment would surge here in the US. So, why aren’t our “leaders” in DC pulling out all the stops to make this happen? Climate change? Give me a break; they can’t fix today’s problems let alone a problem they made up. Did anybody else notice that when their doomsday prediction for the year 2000 hockey stick didn’t come true they wised up and made their prediction for a hundred years from now? Wake up America. Throw these bums out and hire some drillers.

I sure like Texas.

A recent article from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada reinforced why I live in Texas. Recently, Manitoba’s highest court reduced the sentence of man convicted of shooting a taxicab driver. The 17 year sentence was deemed “excessive.” The defendant is reported to have a “significant criminal record,” poses a “continuing threat to society,” and “has shown no remorse.” Now, I’m not an attorney, I did watch one on television, but that sounds like a life sentence to me. Attempted murder with a firearm in a place where you can’t even carry a firearm and 17 years was deemed excessive? Where do they find these judges, the prison library?

Sure it won’t.

Well, Google has a new car and it drives itself. According to the article the new Google car will never get in an accident because of its Light Detection and Ranging system. According to the dreamer writing the article this will put taxicabs out of business. Uh huh. Unless this puppy can fly it will be involved in collisions. What does it do when it’s stuck in traffic at a light and the car behind it doesn’t stop? Is it going to be able to see the driver in the next lane turn his head and look at your lane just before cutting you off? I’ve had other motorists run me up on the sidewalk avoiding them. I hope Johnny Cab is ready for that.

If you have any comments regarding this or any of my articles please feel free to contact me at —dmc

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