by Jordan Yerman
| July 26, 2007 at 08:05 am
The decision by NYC's Taxi and Limosine Commision to place global positioning systems will be good news to some and bad news to others. Cab drivers are upset becasue they don't want the TLC knowing how they're using the cabs when off-duty. Passengers may be thrilled because they will no longer have to give detailed directions to drivers who, generally speaking, do not speak fluent English. I understand that people come to New York City from all over the globe, and that driving a taxi must be a 24-hour-a-day job in order to turn a profit for the holder of the medallion (the legal right to drive the cab), which sometimes leads to a bit of outsourcing to friends/family in order to keep the car on the road. However, such a job is communication-intensive, and, in practice, requires a fairly good knowledge of the city streets. The latter is most definitely lacking in the overwhelming majority of cab drivers, many of whom quaked in fear at my requests for a Queens-to-Brooklyn journey.
A trade body representing more than 8,000 New York taxi drivers is threatening to call a strike over the city's plans to introduce satellite positioning systems in every yellow cab.
Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, told AFP Wednesday that drivers considered the proposals put forward by the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) infringed on their rights.
"Taxi drivers sometimes use the cars in their private time. Why should they tell the TLC where they are going on a Sunday with their family? This is an invasion of privacy," she said.
"We are ready to go on strike at no notice in September if the TLC doesn't cancel its plans to install a GPS in each vehicle," she added. The alliance represents some 8,400 of New York's 26,000 taxi drivers.
Considering that I've had to give cab drivers directions to such out-of-the-way Manhattan locales as Penn Station and Brooklyn's Borough Hall, perhaps a GPS system isn't such a bad idea.