Friday, August 10, 2018

1981 Uber Grounded

1981 Uber Grounded

Wessays photo by Fast Eddie Satlien

NEW YORK -- Well, not grounded, exactly but at last facing some spine from mayor de Blastoff and his merry band of wimps on the City Council.

They have legislation to freeze the number of Uber ride-share drivers who have turned this town into a second Los Angeles, transit wise.  With some help from the MTA, of course.  But that’s another story for another day.

The city wants to figure out how ride shares and real cabs can coexist.

The onslaught of these interlopers has put the taxi and black car industries into the toilet.  Not that they didn’t need a little flushing.  But not to the point where a hack medallion which cost six figures becomes just scrap tin.

But the whole ride business needs a shakeup.  Too many private cars.  To many Ubers.

First, control of the medallions:  too few people own too many of them and turn freelance licensed cabbies into meter and tip slaves.  And the TLC, the Taxi and Limousine Commission needs Roto Rooter, to continue the bathroom analogy.

Then there’s the proliferation of amateurs.  Yeah, people may be hard pressed to find a living wage but putting their private cars on the road isn’t an answer. And neither are the usurious rates that medallion cabs charge these days.

Uber isn’t all bad. It has rules for what kind of cars are used and in what condition.  But if a minimum wage sewing machine operator has the bucks for an almost new Toyota, Subaru or Honda SUV something’s wrong somewhere.   

Then there’s Mike Bloomberg’s throwback idea, still living years after the ends of his terms: imposing tolls on cars entering midtown at certain hours.  That’s a traffic magnet, not traffic relief.  Once the cars get north of 14th Street or South of 96th Street, the clogs will re-cauterize.  And what would such a tax cost to collect?  

As a child of the city all those decades ago, there was no problem hailing a cab on Queens Boulevard.  Try that today and see how long it takes.  You’d better be a day early for wherever you need to be.  Ditto Grand Concourse or Flatbush Avenue and even north of 96th Street in Manhattan.

“I am a professional driver and I will make all the driving decisions.” -- Unidentified NYC Cab Driver fishtailing north on 8th Avenue in an early morning snowstorm and asked by his passenger to go slower.
“Yes, it’s my real name.” -- Muhammad Ali, my frequent yellow cab driver from Penn Station to Rock Center.

“That frickin’ Giuliani is messing everything up. That frickin’ Giuliani” -- Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani playing a cab driver on Saturday Night Live.

“Yeah, you’re right, so what do you want to pay me?” -- unidentified cab driver to whom it was pointed out that his meter was fast.

“If I could afford the New York Herald Tribune, I could afford the 7 cent White Owls.” -- Cabbie Eddie Satlien on why he started smoking the New York Daily Mirror when White Owl raised it price from 5 cents.

“This car is fine, but the TLC demands I get six grand worth of repairs.  This thing has more than one million miles on it. And it’s on its third engine.  It’s time to stop.” -- Earl Johnson, owner of the very last Checker Cab to operate in regular service in the five boroughs in 1999.

“Off Duty.” -- the sign on every cab on 6th avenue at any weekday between the hours of 4 and 5 PM.

“Where are all the cabs?” -- Any potential customer in any rainstorm on any street in Manhattan at any time of any day.

Monday: The sins of Sinclair Broadcasting.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

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