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Radio Free Montone: Cabbie Chaos

By John Montone, 1010 WINS

Before Bill de Blasio bans carriage horses, he’s trying his hand at horse trading.

As reported Monday morning on 1010 WINS, the mayor’s bill to remove Hansom cabs from city streets is expected to be introduced before the city council next week and could be voted on early next year. If he wins, de Blasio will put some 300 horse drawn drivers out of work. Not wanting to do that the Mayor may offer each newly unemployed driver a “free” Green taxi medallion. It is expected that many carriage cabbies will say…er, “neigh,” to that. The Green medallions are worth a fraction of the traditional Yellow medallions and Green taxis are banned from picking up passengers in most of Manhattan which is where the moolah is.

But Yellow cabbies say they’ll take a hit, too if the de Blasio ban becomes law. A group of taxi drivers told me every extra Green cab will make it tougher for them to make a buck. No matter the rules relegating the Greenies to the outer boros and the far reaches of uptown, yellow cabbies say it will be piling on to put more of them on the street.

What with those unregulated Uber cars….you want to see a yellow cabbie’s face turn red, just say, “Uber,” and you will hear a mega-decibel rant in a variety of foreign tongues. Our taxi drivers’ livelihoods are being threatened.

“Cabbie chaos,” is how I reported it on Monday morning.

I won’t weigh in on the proposed horse carriage ban since the battle lines have long been drawn, “These animals should not be forced to walk the traffic-clogged streets of New York,” say those who would abolish the trade. “These horses will be sold for glue if the carriage trade is shut down,” say the drivers.
Now I have nothing against horses. A long shot named Commissioner placed in the Belmont Stakes and made me a bundle. But I truly care for our cabbies. As a group they are colorful, contrary and compassionate.

Just last week during a cold snap a taxi driver shouted for me to get out of the frigid air and sit in his cab. These guys come to our country and do nothing but work, work and work some more. Okay, they complain. They never like the Mayor. If I didn’t know Giuliani’s first name was Rudy I would have thought it was the F-bomb since back then cabbies typically said, “F…Giuliani,” whenever I approached them with my microphone.

They routinely accused Mike Bloomberg of making rules and then breaking them. And on Monday morning a driver said of Bill de Blasio, “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.” But other than taking brief breaks to moan, groan and gripe, they work. Many of them 12-hours a day, six days a week. They sit in crazy cross town traffic with their backs aching as impatient passengers question their knowledge of the city. And one ill-timed left hand turn from the right hand lane gets them a ticket that can wipe out their entire day’s pay.

So yes, cruelty to animals is wrong. But so is cruelty to cabbies.

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