Sunday, June 13, 2010

Staggering the Shifts

Why don't they stagger the shifts so that not all taxicabs are off-duty between 4 and 5 P.M.? That is one of the most common questions I get as a hack. My guess is perhaps only slightly better than yours. I've heard it has to do with ensuring that no shift gets the short end of the stick. Each of the two 12 hour shifts needs one uninterrupted chunk of rush hour in order to make do. It seems that in order to make things even, whoever created the universal shift change decided to interrupt the afternoon rush of just about anyone and everyone. If I were in charge, I'd stagger the shifts and create different leasing prices to adjust to that shift's attractiveness.

I personally maintain a schedule that is staggered from the rest of my fellow drivers. I often go into the garage by 2 A.M., sometimes as early as 1:00. The dispatcher hands me whichever cab happens to be available at that time, and I return it exactly 12 hours later. That means I'm back in the garage by 1 or 2 in the afternoon, hence making the taxi available to any night driver that wishes to begin that early, which in turn lessens the distress that the city feels at the height or the homebound rush.

I don't get any discount on my daily lease for getting my butt out of bed so early or for taking that fiscal risk of being out on the streets at the quietest hours, gambling with my gas tank and cruising time, trying to eek out a miracle or three. I don't mind though. I love the rush I get from this challenge. To me it's like a very hard and serious, but rewarding game of world cup soccer, in which very few points are often scored, but they mean everything.

There are indeed a few advantages for me as a cabdriver in staggering my shift. I don't have to wait in a heavy pool of hacks at the garage to be assigned a cab. I don't have to wait in line at the end of my shift to collect the cash from my credit transactions. I don't have to use the air conditioning in my cab because by the time it gets real hot midday I'm turning it in. I don't have to stress in afternoon traffic jams about trying to get the cab back on time. I get several hours of quiet, congestion-free traffic flow at the start of my shift. In essence, my shift is what you could call a hybrid of both night and day shifts. I really love it.

1 comment:

  1. the prices are already set like that though, night shift is higher than day at yours too, correct? and I dunno I've been finding it quite a lot easier for some time during mondays and sundays even to make money from 3pm to 4pm, even if i cut my shift short i'm much more likely to make 180 versus a 95 if i picked up early. and then on the other hand lately the weekends have been yielding much more money in these early hours now that everybody is out of school and drinking in these pre-summer nights. but it seems that most of the year the darkness chases the customers home early.

    so in summation, ermmm-- go with the changing tides and the fullness of the moon, and the amount of humidity held in the air, pick up a blade of grass, and check with the local raccoons and see if they present a shadow, and then perhaps one will know if they should start their shift early or late.


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