Quantifying the Taxi Strike’s Effect


There were plenty of cabs cruising the streets of the Village this morning.

The taxi strike is on but its effectiveness will surely be a matter of debate. Expect the city to say it was nothing, and the group that called the work stoppage to deem it a success.

The Associated Press, New York Times, and other major news outlets reported this morning that there were longer waits at JFK, LaGuardia and Penn Station, but the news organizations also said it was hard to quantify just how many of the city’s 13,000 yellow cabs were kept off the road.

In five minutes of observation along Lafayette Street this morning, more than a dozen cabs rolled by.

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, the group which called the strike, called the action a success this morning, according to the Time’s CityRoom blog, which also quoted Ed Ott, of the New York Central Labor Council, as saying “Quite frankly, if you can’t see the difference between yesterday at Penn Station and today, you’re blind or you’re a tourist.”

But there seemed to be no shortage of cabs along Lafayette Street, Broadway and the Bowery, according to casual observation of street traffic in the Village at about 10 am this morning.

The drivers are protesting a mandate from the TLC, as part of a taxi fare increase in 2004, that ordered that all cabs be outifitted with GPS tracking devices and credit card processing equipment. The drivers say the GPS is an invasion of their privacy and that credit card processing fees will eat away at their take-home pay.

It raises a few questions:

Did you notice a difference this morning?
Do the drivers have a point about GPS?
Do you like the idea of being able to pay for a cab with a credit card?
Do you think you’d be likely to tip more if you’d paid with plastic?