Tuesday, October 13, 2009


TO THOSE WHO'VE BEEN PASSENGERS OF MY TAXICAB: To my absolute dismay, I have a court date at TLC on the 26th of this month. It involves having accrued over 6 points on my DMV license during a 15 month period. But they're counting back from what was my last violation date: January 08. I'm being punished for minor infractions, 80% of which occurred during my first year on the taxi force: 2006/07.

I've never been a dangerous, nor careless driver. I simply had the naivety to think I could bend certain rules, safely, while fulfilling my duty as an efficient/effective form of transportation when subways, buses, and private cars don't quite cut it. It was an assumption born of the same slack granted to other professional drivers who serve the city: garbage and delivery trucks, bus drivers, etc.. But it turns out we're not in the same league, not as essential to the public? Instead we're easy prey for cheap shots aimed at increasing city revenue.

So I'm asking anyone who has riden in my cab to send a brief testimonial of your experience to my email address: mapsut@gmail.com. Include as much contact info as you can (for credibility), state your profession/role in society, and try to mention things you noticed about the ride and/or driver (me) that were uncommon (beyond the call of duty). There is usually at least one, if not several, every fare. Do I sound full of myself? I'm only being honest because trying my best to provide excellent service is ingrained in me. I will collect all the testimonials into a print out to show the judge. Please help me save my taxi license from being revoked. I sincerely and adamantly believe that the citizens and guests of New York do not deserve to lose one of their best cabbies.

I always treat each and every fare as if it were ME in the backseat. I go above and beyond in my fulfillment of the taxicab riders bill of rights. I never fail to use hazard lights in advance of a pick-up or drop-off. I pull over as close to the curb as possible. I always choose one side of the avenue to comb for fares and never tear across lanes. I gently attempt to interact with everyone, especially tourists, to give them a good impression of our city, and because I care deeply about our reputation as cabdrivers. I always jump out to help load and unload trunk cargo, and hold the car door for elders and handicaps.

I carry a list of daily street closures and keep tuned to the radio traffic reports in order to avoid getting my fares stuck in jams. I know every street below Houston and in the village maze. I have on-the-spot directions (natural born mental GPS) to all the city's landmarks and knowledge of most neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. I carry street maps of Bergen, Nassau, and Westchester counties. This profession is to me more than just a job. It's a labor of love, honor, and service to humanity and to the greatest city on Earth.

An analysis of the points under scrutiny, you might ask? An undercover cop caught me coming to an 'almost' complete stop in Harlem at 5:00 am, upon scouting cautiously 360 degrees. Then I got another 'disobeyed traffic device' for using the bus lane to go around a double parked delivery truck in SoHo. Then I got a 'passed red light' for being the last one in a caravan of turning vehicles on the tail end of a green left turn arrow. I'm sorry but that is not what you'd call 'running a red'.

And to complete my assessment of the points being scrutinized, yet another 'disobeyed traffic device' for making a left turn unto Crescent Street shortly after 7 am, in an attempt to please passengers who were real late to a business meeting in Manhattan from a delayed flight arrival at La Guardia. The traffic on Astoria Blvd. was severely backed up and this move would have saved us a good quarter hour, but instead it might end up costing me my taxi license. Where is the fairness?

Thus far I have received two testimonials, out of the two dozen passengers who enthusiastically agreed to send one in since I started asking at the end of each immaculate fare since this past weekend. Please don't forget about me. This city is running the risk of losing every last one of its few remaining quality cabbies, due to either unfair summonses or simply just feeling the lack of worthwhile compensation and appreciation. Do you want to have to give the driver directions every time you get into a cab? Or not be able to speak with them because of their insolence?


"to whom it may concern:
on 10/12/09 i rode with Mr Gil Avineri, and had a very pleasant experience. i found him to be polite, helpful, and a courteous driver. at no point did he speed, make me feel unsafe by weaving or aggressive driving, nor take any unnecessary routes.

thank you." -Heather Millstone

506 E. 13th St.
New York, NY 10009

"Hi Gil. Thanks again for today’s great taxi ride. I use NYC Taxis approx 25 times per month and you’re in the top 5 cabbies! Keep up the great work." -Mark J. Liebman

"My buddies had just moved to Brooklyn. We took a cab up to Manhattan to go check out the city. Gil was our cabbie that night. He safely and swiftly gave us a history lesson and quick tour during our journey. He was by far one of the most knowledgeable, safe, and friendly cab drivers I have encountered. I'm from Chicago, and if this is a testament to all New York cabbies, I would seriously considered moving to New York. Just lower the rent."
Dennis Episcopo
Chicago Public School Teacher

"Gil, I just wanted to thank you for a pleasant taxi ride today. Good luck." -Stephen Pineault

ALSO MY PARTNER MADE A VERY GOOD POINT THE OTHER DAY. ONE THAT I'VE SUSPECTED ALL ALONG: "I think a lot of cases like these are coming to court because the city needs the revenue generated by kicking drivers out of the system. This way more people can become drivers (and pay to do so, especially with work options so sparse.) The revoked drivers who wait and re-enter the system also have to pay for their licenses anew." -Jenine Bressner


"It's like a twisted sick video game. I really do believe that they don't know the harm they are doing. positioning themselves in predictable locations and giving predictable tickets. the real criminals will continue to get away with scams and recklessness" -Noah F.


  1. The first year is not the year to be harder on drivers. A backwards policy. The year when they have the least experience and are still learning to spin plates and juggle at the same time, and it is held to a tougher standard than subsequent years when the experience settles in. So how will the next generation of cabbies survive the first year to become 'experienced' drivers? They won't. Turnover will rise. Experience will drop. Don't let them turn you over!

  2. ouch, those are really tough ones to get tickets for, so very wrong place wrong time. I'll make a note never to turn on crescent street during the day from astoria blvd though.

    Do you have a traffic lawyer?

    P.S. I don't think I'd be able to get people to go out of their way and write a positive letter about me. and to carry maps of certain out of town counties is really an extra mile gesture. we have so many jack ass drivers out there, it'd really suck to loose one of those that actually try, and actually do make a difference.

  3. Gil,
    I am endlessly impressed by the amounts of professionalism and pride you take in your work. Your courtesy, eagerness, and precision are unparalleled, even compared to cabbies who have been at it for decades. Your predilection towards geography and cartography are what propel you from a great cabbie into a SuperCabbie. Your knowledge of places and the efficient routes between them should be a shining example for all cabdrivers. I hope NYC never loses you to London, where skillful drivers are the rule, and are respectfully appreciated.

  4. I drive a taxi here in Dublin Ireland
    We have similar problems with our carriage ofice. As do drivers all over the world.
    One book I read called The London Cabbie by Alf Townsend gave a situation where he was reported for abusing a customer, he wrote to the carriage office and said that he would be bringing a barrister with him to the hearing and would be applying for costs if he won the case. He then asked them for a complete copy of the statements made against him.
    She was a cerial complainer and he could easily prove his point so they dropped the charges and he was never ever call into the carriage office again.
    For yourself, ask around from other drivers, don't be too cockey or cheeky or they will put you down.
    Best of luck


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