Bhairavi Desai: 'Drivers Need To Earn, They Deserve A Decent Living'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A public hearing was held Thursday on a proposal to hike New York City taxi fares by as much as 20 percent this summer.

Taxi owners and drivers alike have petitioned the Taxi and Limousine Commission to raise fares.

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Their argument, in part, cites high gas prices and new livery cabs that will now be allowed to pick up passengers in the outer boroughs.

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Cabbies jammed the hearing room on Beaver Street, waiving signs urging what would be the first fare hike in six years. Bhairavi Desai, spokeswoman for the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, made the case before the commissioners.

“The fare needs to be raised. Our proposal is a modest proposal of 10 cents more on mileage, 10 cents more on the waiting time — it’s talking about a $1.80, $1.50, up to $2 more for the average ride,” Desai said.

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At the outset of the hearing, TLC Chairman David Yassky said he thought it was appropriate to raise the fare, adding the only question was how much they should go up.

Desai also made an impassioned plea for the welfare and well-being of taxi drivers.

“Drivers need to earn, they deserve a decent living,” she said. “We need this industry to show that drivers have a right to a living with sense of dignity and that at the bottom line means a liveable income and health and benefits.”

The average taxi trip is just under three miles, and the average fare is $11.82. If that fare were to go up 20 percent, riders would be shelling out $14 to $18 for the same trip.

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