City Council Pushing For Refusal Crackdown Legislation

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Could your cab fare soon be going up?

New York City cab drivers hope that will be the case after announcing Wednesday they will petition the Taxi and Limousine Commission for a pay increase next week.

The news came on the same day City Council brought up a bill that would punish cabbies who refused fares headed to the outer boroughs.

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks with more on the proposed City Council bill

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance is putting forward what it calls a “modest increase,” which would include a 50-cent increase in the per-mile metered rate and a 10-cent bump for idling charges.

The bottom line? The meter rate would increase from $2.00 to $2.50 per mile and idling charges — instituted in traffic or when traveling below 6 mph — would go up a dime from $0.40 to $0.50.

WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs With A Cabbie In Long Island City

Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the taxi workers union, said the petition was quite reasonable given that cabbies have not seen a pay hike since 2004.

“We understand the economic pressures that all of us in this city are facing. That’s why it would be a very modest increase that we’re talking about. And a typical fare that let’s say is one mile with one minute of waiting time, you’re looking at an increase of 60 cents more,” Desai told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.

Drivers also said that while expenses have gone up for the last seven years, their pay has stayed the same. The biggest hardship has been the spike in gas prices, which drivers pay out of pocket.

“We need it.  We can’t even make the payments on these cabs,” Taxi Driver Mario Barnes told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.

Taxi riders, however, were split on their opinions of a potential spike.

“I don’t think that’s too much considering the economy right now,” Lilibeth Montemar said.

“I would definitely think about it twice and if it becomes unmanageable, then I will have to take alternative methods of getting to the places where I need to get to,” Natalia Lysetska said.

“I love taking taxis, but I already don’t take them enough because of the rates,” another rider said.

The TLC said it will weigh the merits of the petition and make a decision.

Rob Muzac, of Freeport, said the petition was “taking it a little too far,” despite the fact that he sympathized with the problem of rising gas prices.

“Their service is not at the same level as their rates are,” he said.

Meanwhile, some City Council members led by Transportation Committee Chairman James Vacca argued in favor of imposing stiffer fines on cabbies who refuse to pick up certain passengers and take them where they want to go.

James Vacca wants a crackdown on fare refusals. WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports.

“We cannot tolerate people being refused a taxi ride based on where they live or based on what they look like,” Vacca said.

The measure would heavily beef up fines against taxi drivers refusing to take passengers to the outer boroughs and would also hike penalties imposed on drivers who even ask for a destination before a passenger gets into the cab.

Vacca said that people who live outside Manhattan should not be treated as “second-class citizens,” adding that the council was “determined to end that long history.”

Taxi union head Desai took issue with the bill, saying “the solution here needs not to be to punish the driver.” She offered some potential solutions, including allowing drivers to offer group rides to the outer boroughs.

“The approach here should be to address the economics that are at the root of when refusals happen,” she said.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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