Welcome to THEJNSREPORT’S: The Great Yellow Cab Dilemma
Some fellow New Yorkers might have heard on the local news today that there was a cab driver led march on Albany today. The purpose of the march, to protest the conditions yellow cab drivers face in the city as competition from companies like Uber, Lyft, Juno and others have shifted customers away from more expensive yellow cab rides to ride share services.
Why did ride share services like Uber and Lyft explode on the scene? They arrived and thrived because everyday New Yorkers weren’t always being adequately served by yellow cab drivers in need of navigating the city when mass transit just wasn’t quick or convenient enough to meet the needs of us New Yorkers and commuters.
First, let me say that I can somewhat empathize with the cab drivers especially the ones who committed suicide recently due to pressures from working really long shifts just to make ends meet as well as the hustle to pay the medallions on the yellow cabs they drive. However, my empathy goes but so far.
As a New York City native, there have been countless times I’ve had to stand by and watch as yellow cab after yellow cab drove willfully past me while I hailed them, only to break their necks, if not cause an accident outright to stop and pick up a Caucasian person (male or female) who happened to step in front of me or just appear at an intersection and immediately be received as a passenger.
Often times that experience left me feeling a deep resentful burning anger as I had to face and accept that I wouldn’t be picked up and either walk to my desired destination or take the subway, or bus especially in the dead of winter. You see there was a time when yellow cab drivers could disregard serving the transportation needs of whomever they saw fit based on yes, the color, appearance, or perceived ability to pay a fare.
Many times it was also drivers who were persons of color that engaged in this insidious and repugnant discriminatory behavior because for them a Caucasian or fair skinned passenger was deemed the more desirable fare.
If you’re a person of color who’s had to even resort to tricks like having a Caucasian or fair skinned friend hail the cab while you stood back, basically hiding so that cab driver would stop, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
When I listened to the news story about the protest from the yellow cab drivers due to the 5th cab driver suicide in as many months I thought this is tragic. The medallions for yellow cabs prices were exorbitantly high and nothing was done about this. That’s where any suggestion about caps belongs not on the backs of the service user. Medallions for yellow cabs costing anywhere from $500k to $1 million dollars is where the fundamental problem starts.
That price was too fucking high for anyone to pay because it basically ensured whoever borrowed money to buy that medallion or pay the lease weekly was a slave for life. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out before deciding whether to be a yellow cab driver or not. Greed drives NYC and everyone knows it. I call a spade a spade and an idiot a idiot when it’s applicable period.
To get away from discriminatory driving practices and unreliable mass transit, an underserved market demand cried (if not begged out loud) to be heard and answered. Ridesharing which wasn’t that popular came calling even though it had existed previously in the form of dollar vans or dollar cabs. As with anything new, at first it wasn’t the best option just an alternative one.
Technology such as GPS and easy pay options that didn’t require a swipe of a credit or debit card or cash any longer not to mention expanded service areas sounded the death nell to an industry resistant to tech or change. Yellow cabs are a dinosaur service that now blames fair market response to their higher costs and behavioral practices for their problems.
To suggest that the answer should be to punish the customers who have the right to seek alternative services (especially cost saving ones) is on its face ludicrous, disingenuous and anti American and/or anti meritocracy. If your business sucks as a business model and free market forces, ie competition drive you out of business that’s the nature of business. Remember Yellow cabs also have a monopoly within the city against Green cabs and livery cabs as well.
This reaction to them is exactly what should happen in a free market if they aren’t able or willing to adapt. I don’t want to hear any bs arguments about regulation and caps, that just brings more corruption. The market place has spoken and told the Yellow Cab industry “you aren’t competitive, you’re too expensive and therefore alternative options to you are necessary. Either join them or dissolve.” Don’t hate the rest of the market or customers for waking up long before you have. By the way no one is holding a gun to the drivers heads saying they must drive a Yellow cab or sign their name to a lifetime of debt. That is a choice or gamble the person who signs up to do that job takes knowingly going in.