Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cabbie Econ

I was at JFK, needing a lift back to my apartment, and if I weren't by myself, I would have totally taken a gypsy cab. I just couldn't help feeling for those guys -- whispering "taxi! taxi! taxi to Manhattan!" -- keeping up appearances despite the economic downturn.

Because the financial reports are in, and while the yellow cab business has stayed steady -- thanks in part to the fact that people can swipe their credits cards in cabs now, hello more consumer debt! -- business for limo drivers is down 30%, and gypsy cabs are getting killed financially.

So I wanted to help these guys out. But as I didn't feel like being alone in some unmarked car driven by some strange dude, so I waited in the obscenely long line for a yellow cab.

was my driver. We talked finance.

First, he's annoyed at the 50 cent fare hike -- the money will be going to the MTA, or public transport system. What does the city do for him? He asks. They don't even give cabbies a place to use the bathroom.

Ifzaal drives mornings, and before the economic meltdown, he was crazy busy taking people to work. He's doing fine now, but business had dropped off.

And as more people who used to drive cabs get laid off from their current jobs, they're going back to driving, meaning there's a line at many garages.

Yes, the business is hurting, Ifzaal says. But he's doing fine. It's an okay job, he guesses. Which sounds downbeat, but overall, he seemed like a pretty content guy.


  1. take off your skirt and ride with a gypsy cab next time! i hear you on the safety issue, but you can usually make a deal for 10 bucks or so less then the offical fare / meter...esp to williamsburg / greenpoint
    and i bet you get a great story out of it.
    just text me the license plate before you get in the car. and if you ever get a cameraphone, send a snapshot of the cabbie. you'll make it home safe & sound. or else i'll feel guilty forever.

  2. I accept your challenge! Next time I fly, I'm coming home with the first guy at the airport who's whispering "taxicab? taxicab?"

    I'll report back. And when the police ask you, definitely give up that license plate number I texted over.