Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Why do I feel like a 12th grader stuck amongst 3rd graders when surrounded by amateur motorists? In reality I'm a college graduate, but in the life of taxi driving, I'd say my life experience/ maturity is equivalent to a studious/ outgoing senior in high school. And based on the skill with which the cars (and some cabs) around me change lanes, turn, merge, respond to light signal changes, etc.... they're still in elementary school. It can get quite frustrating. Like an olympic swimmer trying to do laps amidst a game of water polo. Like a ball player trying to shoot hoops amongst an assortment of vendors using the court as a flea market.

A few days ago I was traveling south along Seventh in the upper teens. I had just picked up a new passenger and I was skirting the leftmost lane (at 30 mph) to make a turn up ahead. Another cab (this one vacant) darted across several lanes and stopped abruptly in front of me. Less than five seconds before the incident, I had actually intuited that something was about to happen, jeopardizing my collision-free status. Instinctively I had my foot ready to slam on brakes, which saved my front from careening into his rear end by just a couple inches. He was picking up a passenger in the worst possible manner.

If you're one of those inconsiderate and downright dangerous cabbies who cruise in the middle lane of a wide avenue, eyeballing both sides of the street to maximize your fare potential at the cost of public safety, I've got some serious beef with you. Pick a side and skim the far left or right lane. None of this split second crap. It's not worth the risk of having to pay thousands of dollars worth of damage (most cabbies don't carry their own insurance), maiming innocent bystanders, and causing a big traffic taco (jam in Spanish.)

Friday, March 26, 2010


Cabdriving feels like the inverse of hitchhiking. Instead of waiting for a ride, I'm always looking for someone to pick up. The entire day is like a baton race from ride to ride, to earn a measure of money or distance.

As a hitchhiker, I would put out my hand similarly to how my fares hold out their own to call my attention. Both sides begin as strangers, possibly becoming friends in a symbiosis. In my experience hitchhiking I've always encountered kind, generous, and accomodating people. Beyond rides, I've received guided tours, food, even shelter without even asking for it.

I try to make sure that my passengers experience an inviting hospitality, just as I've been given by many strangers on two different continents (thus far.) Returning the favors I've been paid is a priority for me. Don't forget to pay yours forward!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vernal Communique of Gilespie Avunique

Image Source:
Greetings on this late March in 2010. My sincerest desire is that this note finds you well on your path towards happiness. I'm writing to climb back unto the face of the planet. Doing fine for the most part. Still driving taxicabs in New York. Still trying to save enough money to travel across the ocean. This summer, if the light force of the creator wills it, I'll be exploring Europe for the first time. My itinerary is contingent on the slowly unfolding plans of my sister and those of my partner. It looks as though this trip might be split into three parts. Traveling with sis, alone, and with partner. Perhaps a couple weeks of each, between June and August.

The extent of geographical coverage also depends on my savings between now and then. The big ones on my list include Amsterdam, Paris, London, Barcelona, Casablanca, Rome, Berlin, Athens, Bucharest, Istanbul, and Tel Aviv. I know that's a lot of ground to cover, but my time isn't constrained, and my budget isn't fanciful. My cargo will be light as possible. A change of clothes. A toothbrush. A journal. A map or two. No more.

This past winter I spent large swaths of time hiding from the cold by paying old friends a long overdue visit in Florida and helping my father demolish my aunt's floor in Houston (2nd visit to TX in a month). I made new bonds with cousins and saw high-school buddies from lifetimes ago. The only person I didn't get to see, but really wanted to, is Waffle, a great inspiration of mine (and countless others). I had been promising to come down for weeks, and when I finally mustered up the gumption, he had taken off for Haiti, to help build shelters.

Since I got back to NYC, I've been working 5 days a week, as a self-employed operator of yellow cruise missiles. Been leasing them out of my old old garage, the first one from nearly 4 years ago (in downtown Brooklyn). I've been through some drama with a burglar in the cab and all sorts of other scenarios, all of them blessings, whether hidden or outright.

Lastly, I leave you with a list of movies I've seen recently, that I really think you ought to watch.....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Brahman or Holstein?

I have a little question for the Taxi and Limousine Commission of NYC. What happens if a Kennedy airport fare hails my cab in Manhattan around 3:00 PM? If I take them, I most definitely will be late to the garage, which strictly requires the cab be brought back by 4:30 PM. If I refuse to take them, they could report me to you.

See, at 3:30 PM (every shift) I switch on my OFF-DUTY lights and head for my garage (in downtown Brooklyn), while slowing to a near stop in front of every street hail to check if they're going downtown (Manhattan or Brooklyn), in which case I'll gladly take them. If I were to start turning on my OFF-DUTY lights at an earlier time, in order to avoid impossible airport fares, I could get in trouble for NOT actually being garage-bound just yet. These are risks we all (cabbies) take, on top of the hundred other risks (and odds) stacked against us.

Avoiding eye contact and pretending not to have seen someone with lots of luggage isn't an option either, especially if they happen to be black (which elevates it from refusal to racism). Also not an option is simply returning to the garage a whole hour or two early. This job is only economically viable if you max out your time and presence on the streets, because the lease rate is steep and fixed. The TLC is good at addressing public concerns, but they leave cabbies as clueless and vulnerable as a herd of cattle standing next to an electric fence. It seems that's the way they want it. Someone please tell me if I'm wrong. I hate to be so cynical and assuming.

My fellow taxi driver and book author, Melissa Plaut, would certainly agree. Check out her fabulous article in the Huffington Post, about how the TLC giving us a bad name is consistently unwarranted.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Murphy's Homeless and Karma's Lonely

In front of this Vitamin Shoppe, next to the staircase to the ACE train, is someone's makeshift home. In life you either have enough to splurge much of the time, or you don't know where your next meal is coming from.

Just as people say they can always catch a cab, until they actually need one..... cabbies go through long vacant periods without finding a fare, until someone finally steps in. Then all of a sudden there are hands hailing on every street corner.

I once learned that Murphy's Law only exists in our overly logical minds. In reality, everything that can go right, will go right. Let's be thankful for every breath of air, every sip of water, every morsel of food, every ailment we're not undergoing, every single one of our functioning senses and organs, every warm and dry stretch of restful sleep, and every waking hour.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Favorite Dance Venue in NY

I wanted to go dance to the eclectic sounds of Ethno Mesh at the Bulgarian Bar tonight, but I ran out of steam. I have to report to a 12 hour taxi shift before dawn tomorrow, and I didn't get a full nap after work today, as planned, so there'll be no East European pogo dancing for me tonight. I'll be on the streets to serve you bright and early in the morning. Just hail me from a street corner if you need a ride to the airport. Don't mind my jadedness due to lack of dance therapy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What is Misspelled?

A misspelling and some seemingly paranormal activity on the meter.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I enjoyed this book quite a lot. It's exciting to learn about the state of the profession, decade by decade, since the early 1900s. I enjoy how people's image of taxi driver evolves and devolves, in ever-fluctuating waves. I'm especially fond of the fact that the author himself used to be a cabdriver. He is now the distinguished Fulbright professor of history at Beijing University. Here are a few of my favorite chunks from the book:

"The NYC cabdriver personifies the energy and zeal of the world's greatest city."

"Cabdrivers make up the human element of the New York City experience."

"In taxi is the university of all humanity."

"Cabdrivers only stick together in traffic. The rest of the time they suffer from occupational loneliness and often wind up as blabber-mouths, exhibiting a weak drooling volubility to passengers (now cell phones) in which sense and nonsense are inextricably linked.

"When adjusted for inflation, cabdrivers' annual income was less in 2003 than it was in 1929."

"New Yorkers strived to commemorate their cabbies. One work of art created unexpected problems. In April 1996, the city installed a statue of a man hailing a taxi at the corner of 48 and Park Avenue, The piece was entitled "Taxi" and was sculpted by J. Seward Johnson. Within a few weeks, the city had to move the statue back away from the street because cabdrivers competing for the fare were getting into accident after accident."

"As city harassment of cabbies increased, turnover soared to over 50 % in less than 5 years. Garage owners who in the past had supported the TLC 's crackdowns, now complained that good drivers were leaving the industry because of the burdens of petty but expensive tickets."

"After dark, the cabdrivers guided and transported willing New Yorkers into forbidden worlds (1910s)."

"The Jazz Age was celebrated in NY as nowhere else, and cabdrivers were eager participants in the whirlwind frenzy of nightclubbing, easy sex, and social liberation that made the 1920s in NY so notorious."

"The public credited cabdrivers with oracle-like knowledge about politics, the 'chief source of public opinion' about candidates" (1930s).

"Rationing of gas and of private car use and fares flush with wartime earnings made cab driving easier and more profitable than ever (1940s).

"Newspapers ran stories that assured New Yorkers that in the event of an atomic bomb attack, cabdrivers' knowledge of city streets would help avoid traffic snarls."

"Observers began to describe cabdrivers as philosophers, comparing them with Socrates, who was a 'great street talker in Athens' " (1950s).

"Generous cabdriver stories enchanted Americans who identified cabbies as the ultimate New Yorkers".

" The average hackie is an honest, hard-working, careful and skillful driver who's been doing this kind of work 'temporarily' for many years." -journalist Hy Gardner
"Now cabbies ranked with coal miners and below farmhands (1960s)".

"A helpful article in Reader's Digest listed the many ways cabbies helped policemen and performed acts of courage and charity." (In response, Mayor Wagner proclaimed January 27th to be 'Taxicab Day')

"The backseat was so uncomfortable that a journalist argued that fares were forced into a "paralytic yoga position, fists clenched into the white-knuckles mode, knees to the chin, eyes glazed or glued shut, bones a-rattle, teeth a-grit." " (1970s)

1/1/1970 A law made yellow the official color of all medallion cabs, required that they be equipped with bullet-resistant dividers, and assigned undercover police to drive cabs.

3/2/1971 Mayor Lindsay signed a law creating the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

(artwork by Red Grooms, whose depictions of taxi life are classic)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Subway Safety and Taxi Price-Gouging

NOTE: I've revised the previous post, adding specific refusal rules that I copy/pasted off the TLC website, removing unnecessary clutter (like the Arab driver's beautiful accent, which could be mistaken for xenophobia on my part), and clarifying what I meant when mentioning Danny Glover (which could be misconstrued as racism, but really just an empathic emotion I feel toward his plight for dignity). Please take another gander at it if you've already read it. In today's post I'd like to cover a few loosely knit themes. Bear with me.

Did you hear about the lady who jumped into a subway rail pit in Manhattan last week, in order to save her toiletries pouch that she accidently dropped down there? According to the report, people in the station were yelling at her to lay down on the track as an unstoppable 6 train approached, but she panicked and ended up crushed between train car and platform.

The MTA doesn't put effort into training people to survive such a predicament, probably because they don't want folks to get the wrong ideas in their heads. If I understand correctly, the best advice is to lay down flat on your back in the rancid gap between the tracks, and let the train go over and past you. That is how an altruist saved a fallen straphanger in 2007. Perhaps the gap under the edge of the platform is good too. I don't know. We (as New Yorkers) should know these things. One thing's for sure. Don't go chasing after something if it falls into the pit (unless you're saving a human being and you know what you're doing). The MTA will retrieve items in due time. That's what us taxi drivers pay them to do. Ride in our cabs and we'll send a 50 cent contribution, from every fare, to all the worthwhile causes of the underground.

Onto the more current topic of double rate scams. It's all over the news and being amply discussed among cabbie circles right now. All I have to say is that I saw it coming. It's easy for a driver to engage the rate 4 button with a light tap on the meter, at any point during a trip. It's not hard to get away with it because nearly no one takes their receipt, which would reveal the scam outright (Nassau-West(chester) would be printed on it.) Such an easy deception can be as tempting as human nature is predictable, particularly in the psyche of people who are so poorly compensated (and even occasionally punished) for their ceaseless efforts to serve the public proficiently, and to protect their welfare.

I'm not advocating anything here. I would be extremely angry if my cabdriver did that to me, and the golden rule happens to be my religion. I treat my passengers the way I'd want to be treated. I'm just saying, "What'd you expect?" I guess every collar gets a turn as criminal. Blue, white, and now yellow. I feel like they (TLC) might have known what kind of inevitable traps they were setting up when they introduced the new system. Call me Mel Gibson in the movie "Conspiracy Theory."

I, for one, always try to end every fare about a half block early, so that my fares have a few moments to swipe their card or count their cash before we stop, especially if there's no safe place to pull over (often the case), which minimizes danger time. Since I remain focused on driving while searching with my finger to end the fare and print the receipt, and since all of these rate buttons are so small and closely placed, I have made the rare mistake of pressing rate 4 (perhaps twice a month, or so). But since I end the fare within 1-3 seconds of the mistake, it has no effect on the total the passenger owes me.

I'm sure similar scenarios of accidently pressing the wrong button happen to cabdrivers all the time. You go to pause the meter, so it doesn't run while you check your street atlas for an obscure destination, or because you agreed to wait for a passenger without charging them for wait time, and all of a sudden the meter reads rate 4 instead of the usual 1. In a situation like that I either just end the metered fare immediately or explain to the passenger (if we've already established mutual rapport) what has accidently occurred (it's now charging double) and we settle for a mutual solution, like turning it off halfway between here and there. Examples like this (where being as earnest and fair as possible can ironically land you into trouble) abound in taxi life. Why do you think the city found that 35,558 out of the 48,000 drivers (only about 40,000 are active drivers) had illegally pressed the rate 4 button? Here's an excerpt from the NY Times:
The taxi industry vigorously challenged the city’s findings, saying it was unimaginable that such a pervasive problem could be the result of deliberate fraud. “This is clearly a systematic failure on the part of the meters and the technology,” said Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents cabbies. “For this to be so widespread — nearly every single driver — makes no sense,” she added.

One solution a neighbor of mine presented is to have the meter buttons color-coded. Right now they're all gray and the same small size, one right next to the other. I must say that when all this hoopla came out about the epidemic of price-gouging, I was expecting there to be an instant increase in passenger hostility, mistrust, and suspicion.... but in the handful of shifts I've worked since the story proliferated in the media, I simply haven't seen that happen. Passengers, for the most part, continue to be polite and understanding, or at least not incriminating. All they have to do is look at the far right side of the meter and see what code number is being displayed.

1 is a normal in-town fare.
2 is a JFK rate (to and from that airport and Manhattan)
3 is a Newark Airport rate (starts at 17.50, plus tolls)
4 should only be on there if you've left the city limits of the five boroughs.
Once 2, 3, or 4 appears on the meter it cannot be reversed back to 1.

Every once in a while a cabdriver will outright forget to even initiate the meter when a passenger first enters. It usually happens when something distracts the driver during the pick-up. It could be the frantic loading of luggage (or other cargo) into the trunk. It could also be that the driver's only way to pick up the passenger was by stopping at a precarious point in traffic. It may be that upon entry, the passenger urgently requested a right turn be made from the leftmost lane (or vice versa). The driver must then attempt to safely shift several lanes of traffic within a matter of seconds and feet.

I'd say the most common one for me is when I drop someone off that involves a frantic scramble of some sort (children/cargo/time crunch/traffic obstruction), and then a new passenger immediately enters the cab with their own frantic scramble. I take off again instantly. I'm lucky if I remember to erase the previous passenger's total off the meter, let alone engage it anew. No, that doesn't mean this passenger will have to pay the previous fare. The meter isn't accruing anymore. It's sitting idle, waiting for the final receipt-printing to be engaged by the driver.

If I forget to turn the meter on, I tell the passenger that it's pay-as-you-wish, like at the Metropolitan Museum. Whatever they felt the ride was worth (obviously if they're clueless tourists I'm going to be forthright on an estimate). However, I never demand payment of any sort in a situation like this, because I take full responsibility for my own amnesia. It's merely a suggested donation, as they say at the museum. I have heard stories of cabdrivers pressing the double rate 4 for enough blocks to make up for the time and distance they covered while the meter was forgetfully unengaged. This is often done on the sly, although the final price of the cab ride comes out to nearly exactly what it would have been if the meter had been initiated normally at the start of the trip. The driver simply didn't want to disturb the passenger with such technicalities. Like I said before, our deeds and sensibilities go largely unnoticed, and are sometimes even reprimanded and criminalized.

There are, however, bad apples among us, as in any industry or group of people. Here's an article about the lousiest and most notorious modern hack alive. His scheme has further ruined our delicate reputation as cabdrivers in a city as harshly judgmental as this.
Lastly, please take a moment to read this short entry by another driver. It sums up and provides perfect examples of how poorly we often get treated by passengers, and for no legitimate reason.

And here's an interesting random fact within the rules of the TLC. It applies whether or not the driver has their off-duty light on!

From Driver Rule 2-50e8 (in PDF):
If the driver has been operating the taxicab for more than eight (8) hours of any continuous twenty-four (24) hour period, then he may refuse to take a passenger to these destinations: Westchester or Nassau County or to Newark Airport.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Clocks Forward, Proletariats Backward

At 4:15 this morning I ambled out of my Brooklyn cavern and walked west 4 blocks. On the last stretch of sidewalk from which one can safely hail a cab and have it turn left unto the BQ Expressway ramp (ain't paying for no red lights), I snatched a passing cab that sniffed my subtle intentions. A 22 year veteran from Peshawar rolled down his window. Confidently, I declared "Do you wanna go downtown Brooklyn?" His response was enthusiastic (therefore competent) enough for me to hop in.

Until recently I worked out of a garage that was 10 minutes away by bicycle, 20 minutes via subway/walking (only 3 trains an hour) or 5 minutes by cab. Their available shifts dwindled down over time to only Sundays. Since I'm saving for summer travels in Europe, I need more workdays. So I switched back to the very first (of three) garage I leased cabs from when I first got my hack license (2006). They now require a 5 day schedule, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. I'd rather rest on the Sabbath, but I'll take what I can get.

This garage is 25 minutes away via bicycle or subway/walking. It's 10 minutes by cab. An $11 fare. $15 with the tip cause I don't have the heart to give a good cabdriver any less than that. I avoid the bad ones (if at all possible) by sniffing them out before I get in. I only take a cab to work if it's raining, too cold, or I overslept. I must be frugal since I only average about $190 a shift, depending on how many breaks I choose to take (zero for 200+) and luck of the passenger turnover rate.

At 4:44 am I was assigned to taxicab 7L62 by my favorite dispatcher (of 10 I've met), the magnificent Bobo (of Haiti), who always carries the sincerest smile. Today's shift would entail 134 miles of urban meanderings and two fares to Newark Liberty International (within two hours). Oddly coincidental, since I normally only get one fare to that airport every couple of months.

The shift also entailed brief, but peak moments of nail biting, like the puddle on MacDougal Street that turned out to be a crater lake of a pothole, as I dashed through it, sending a 10 ft. splash at pedestrians on the sidewalk. NYU students, on a Sunday stroll, shrilled at the top of their lungs, as I faded into the horizon with my giggling Korean passenger.

At one point I was cruising down Fifth Avenue (in the sixties) when I spotted a sheepish hand flail about and drop, just before disappearing behind a stopped MTA bus. My peripheral vision had sensed a gang of tall, lost Europeans huddling around a map. I was on the opposite side of the street and had to instantly drop my speed from 34 to 4, in order to pull into the first available fire hydrant. I put it in park and ran across. There they were, four lovely Norwegians attempting to figure out where to have breakfast. They were stunned (and grateful) that a cabdriver would go so far as to fetch them by foot, to initiate what would become the best cab ride of their visit. They explained that after breakfast they planned to walk around Greenwich Village.

Their question was, "are there any good traditional American food in that neighborhood?" First word that came to mind was diner, a term they weren't familiar with, but I knew that's what they wanted. Off hand, I could only think of the ones along the eastern and western flanks of 23rd Street. Not the Village. I called up my main man Mikey (who also drives a cab) and he unveiled a brilliant idea: the Waverly Restaurant (on Sixth Avenue)! They fell in love with the place before they even stepped inside. I was given $15 for a $10.50 fare and my helpfulness. The tips are in the pudding. I owe you one, Mikey.

The last two fares of the day were off-duty negotiations. At 3:45 PM I was coming down Ninth en route to the Manhattan Bridge for the shift change in Brooklyn. My garage is strict. I must be back by 4:30 PM. No if or buts. I follow TLC regulations by having my doors locked, off-duty lights on, and window cracked, which allows me to gently negotiate destinations with would-be street hailers (without being accused of refusal). I make a left unto 23rd (in order to cross town without hitting Holland Tunnel traffic) and stop in front of an elder lady who is hailing me. "Where are you going?," I ask through the crack.

"The Morgan library museum (Madison and 36th)," she says achingly while standing with imbalance. I immediately unlock the doors and motion her to enter. First thing she says, as we're on our way, is "I don't think you're supposed to do that (in an authoritarian tone). " She is referring to the fact that I asked for her destination before letting her in. But there is a (humanitarian) loophole in that law, which I've copy/pasted below in blue (off the TLC website). The loophole exists simply for the purpose of not leaving everyone in Manhattan stranded, between roughly 3:30 and 5:00 PM, without a single cab around available.

I couldn't believe she was actually going to pull this on me. Before I even saw her, I was already facing the challenge of completing task A thru H within the next 45 minutes:
A. Maneuver through five Manhattan neighborhoods,
B. a long bridge with rush hour traffic,
C. and two Brooklyn neighborhoods.
D. Fill up at the gas station,
E. fill out my trip sheet,
F. gather my belongings,
G. run the cab through the basic daily mechanic inspection,
H. park it, and have the night dispatcher punch out my trip sheet.

But out of compassion for her, and an idealistic overconfidence in my capabilities, I had decided to let her in and go 13 uptown blocks out of my way, because I knew she'd have difficulty finding a cab at that hour. Besides, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I drove past and ignored a stranded elderly person. And besides that, the refusal law (although existing for several little reasons) is mainly about curbing widespread racial profiling, which makes catching cabs a difficult feat for blacks. It was Danny Glover's complaint, filed in 1999, which brought this law to the surface of everyone's mind. The result, as I've witnessed and experienced it, has not been a reduction in racism among cabbies (which remains nearly the same), but a pandemic of white pedestrians using their misconstrued understanding of this law to lash out in anger against cabbies and unwarrantedly claim victimhood when finding themselves stranded during the shift switch.

If taken to court by a complainant, you must be able to prove that it was indeed the end of your 12 hour shift, which is effortlessly easy. The TLC itself has the proof. It's on their GPS data, which records every detail (of when and where) while a cabdriver is logged on to the system (including how many consecutive hours they've worked).

The very last fare I did pro bono for a nice man who was only going down Third Avenue from E12 to Houston (in my direct path), and I had already turned off the meter. He threw 3 dollars at me anyway.

Upon returning the cab, I learned that Napoleon (the night dispatcher) is from Leogane, the town (18 miles west of the Haitian capital) where the epicenter of the quake was located. With glazed-over eyes, a forced smile, and his New York lingo in a Kreyol accent, he said, "fogedaboudit, don't even ask what happened." As you know, the day dispatcher (Bobo) is also Haitian, but from which part of the half island nation? I don't know yet.

§2-50 Refusals
(a) A driver shall not seek to ascertain the destination of a passenger before such passenger is seated in the taxicab.
(b) A driver shall not refuse by words, gestures or any other means, without justifiable grounds set forth in §2-50(e) herein, to take any passenger to any destination within the City of New York, the counties of Westchester or Nassau or Newark Airport. This includes a person with a disability and any service animal accompanying such person.
(c) A driver shall not require a person with a disability to be accompanied by an attendant. However, where a person with a disability is accompanied by an attendant, a taxicab driver shall not impose or attempt to impose any additional charge for transporting the attendant.
(d) A driver shall not refuse to transport a passenger's luggage, wheelchair, crutches, other mobility aid or other property.
(e) Justifiable grounds for the conduct otherwise prohibited by sections 2-50(a), 2-50(b), 2-50(c) and 2-50(d) shall be the following:
(1) another passenger is already seated in the taxicab;
(2) a hail from another person has already been acknowledged by the driver, and that other person is being picked up or is about to be picked up. Provided, however, that a driver shall not acknowledge the hail of a prospective passenger over the hail of another prospective passenger with an intent to avoid transporting the passenger whose hail was not acknowledged;
(3) the passenger is carrying, or is in possession of any article, package, case or container, other than a wheelchair or other mobility aid, which the driver may reasonably believe will cause damage to the interior of the taxicab, impair its efficient operation, or cause it to become stained or foul smelling;
(4) the driver is ending his or her work shift, has already illuminated the “Off Duty” sign, locked both rear doors, and has transmitted the relevant information to an electronic database for entry on the electronic trip record or, until a taxicab is required to be equipped with the taxicab technology system as defined in section 2-01 of this chapter, and thereafter whenever the taxicab technology system is inoperable for not more than forty-eight (48) hours following the filing of an incident report with the authorized taxicab technology service provider as set forth in section 2-26 of this chapter, indicated on the written trip record that he or she is off duty and proceeding to his or her garage or home;

§2-53 Accepting Passengers While Off-Duty
(a) A driver who has illuminated the "Off Duty" light may not solicit nor accept a passenger unless that driver is returning the taxicab to his or her garage or home and has transmitted the relevant information to an electronic database for entry on the electronic trip record or made a written trip record entry "Returning to garage (or home)" and the passenger's destination is directly en route thereto; when the last passenger is discharged, the driver shall lock the doors and return to his garage or home.

§2-54 Solicitation of Passengers
(a) A driver shall solicit a passenger only from the driver's seat and only with the words "taxi" or "cab" or "taxicab."

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I'd like to take this opportunity to share a few of my favorite entries to have been churned out by fellow taxicab bloggers in recent times:

First of all, I want to point out a fairly new member in our driver-writer network, who has all but blown me away with his stupendous abilities as an author and as a Boston cabdriver. I know a few months ago I raved about a new taxi blog out of Boston, but this one is even newer. I've heard it said on many occasions that Boston is "one of the smartest cities" in the country (due in large part to its universities).

Since I am a strong believer that there are multiple (forms of) intelligence(s) across the human landscape, I believe it takes more than just plain book smarts and
over-rationalized lab research to pass as a "smart city." A (just as) large segment of the population must have certain (less logical) sensibilities, like appreciative
resourcefulness, interpersonal diplomatic xenophilia, and street savviness. That's what excites me when not one, but two of the best new taxi story-tellers have
come out of Boston. I don't particularly (personally) care for that city, but I am glad to see that it can now truly merit the title: "one of America's smartest cities" (at least in my book), thanks to its wise and word-prolific cabdrivers.
With no further ado, I present to you: HACKNEYED SOJOURN. A Boston taxi blog. Literally every one of his few entries are solid. By the way, the other Bostonian I was mentioning is THE HACK. He's also got back-to-back, masterpiece postings. And now we come to my favorite New Yorker in this worldwide network of ink-slinging
hacks. If you only have time for two entries, these are my recommendations:

Short and sweet (or honest) entries from two different drivers:
Here's an excellent one about the NYPD/TLC's heartless attack on cabbies:
A picture taken at the JFK holding lot. Dozens of nationalities represented and each
ethnic huddle of cabbies plays its own music loud while standing around, shooting

I haven't even had a chance to look at all the other blogs on my international roll,
so forgive me if I failed to include one of your remarkable taxi stories in my review.