Desai: The plan will hurt yellow cabbies

Desai: The plan will hurt yellow cabbies

We are stunned by the mayor’s proposal to turn liveries into taxis in the outer boroughs.

Legalizing an illegal activity because it’s been done for so long will immediately cut into fares, especially during the rush hours when yellow cab drivers who live in the outer boroughs pick up fares at the beginning or end of their shifts.

And as liveries bring more riders into Manhattan, what guarantee do we have that the city will stop the illegal activities in Manhattan or the airports? Already, the city has turned a blind eye on such activity throughout Manhattan and the airports, which cuts deep into taxi driver incomes. This is a slippery slope with long-term implications. Meanwhile, yellow cab drivers pay between $130-$190 per shift before they can break even. Every fare counts.

Already there is increased competition as more taxis are being leased out during this recession with record high number of license holders. Nothing has been done to bring down the costs on drivers, namely the lease, or change the unfair five percent cut on credit card fares or the impact of the 50-cent MTA tax which many still wrongly think goes to the driver and not the state.

On top of more competition, higher expenses and reduced number of passengers, we will face more competition and fewer passengers. This will have a long-term impact on us. Basically, the mayor is proposing a second tier taxi market that will make second-class citizens of taxi drivers.

Bhairavi Desai is executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a union of 15,000 yellow cab drivers.