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If Transit Workers Strike, Some Cabbies May Stay Home Too

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TWC News: If Transit Workers Strike, Some Cabbies May Stay Home Too
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The mayor is counting on taxis to help bail out the city in the event of a transit strike. But some cabbies say they'll stay home in solidarity with the transit workers, while others hope to cash in.

NY1's Rita Nissan has the story.


There are plenty of yellow cabs now, but come Monday, a transit strike could make them a hot commodity.

“If there are no buses and trains, it's going to be more traffic and more business for taxis,” said a cab driver.

But not all drivers are convinced its best to work if transit workers walk out. The 4,000 members of the Taxi Workers Alliance are being encouraged to stay home. They once staged a 24-hour strike of their own in 1998, paralyzing the city.

“If taxi drivers work during a mass transit strike, the only people who are going to benefit are the taxi bosses who are going to be getting their lease money,” said Bhairavi Desai of the Taxi Workers Alliance. “Drivers will not benefit, transit workers will not benefit, and in the long run, New York City will not benefit.”

“Staying at home is not the answer at a time like this when our customers need us the most,” said David Pollack, who heads the Committee for Taxi Safety, representing 16,000 drivers. Pollack is telling drivers to work through a transit strike. He said it will mean more fares for drivers.

Under the mayor's contingency plan, taxis will be able to take multiple riders, with each paying $$2 plus their share of the meter.

As for the traffic, Pollack said it won't be a problem because taxis will be allowed to drive on roads designated for emergency vehicles.

“New York City yellow cabs will be moving as fast as any emergency vehicle,” Pollack said.

But the Taxi Workers Alliance has it’s own agenda: They want transit workers to support them when they go up against the city, calling for lower cab lease rates and higher meter fares.

“I'm not going to drive a cab if there is going to be a strike,” said Faouzi Abousalham of the Taxi Workers Alliance, “because I have to support them as long as they support us also.”

The Taxi and Limousine Commission responded by saying: "We are confident that our licensed drivers will do everything they can to assist their fellow New Yorkers."

--Rita Nissan
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