Yassky Speaks Out on Taxi Dead Zone

It’s a pretty well known fact that NYC cabbies don’t like coming to Brooklyn. Now a new Taxi and Limousine Commission study says hacks don’t like to go ANYWHERE during the “switch-over” time between 4pm – 5pm.

TLC Commish/Brooklyn Heights resident David Yassky gave the New York Times the scoop on the cabbie witching hour:

NY Times: “It’s not just urban legend,” said David S. Yassky, the chairman of the Taxi and Limousine Commission, who asked his agency to investigate the phenomenon. “It’s a real dip.”

The Bloomberg administration, which prides itself on data-driven policy, is still grappling with how to handle the discovery. Mr. Yassky said that, so far, he had no plans to ask for any changes to the industry’s schedule, although his team is still considering its options.

Mr. Yassky said the city “should be circumspect about substituting its judgment for the judgment of business people.” But he acknowledged that any attempt at regulation would have to take into account the forces that have kept the practice in place for years.

The explanation for the 5 p.m. dip is steeped in the history and economics of the taxi industry. Many taxicabs are used by two drivers a day, each working a 12-hour shift. To ensure that each leg is equally attractive, taxi owners schedule the shift change in the middle of the afternoon, so each shift gets a rush hour.

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  • william

    Yassky doesn’t have a clue about the taxi industry. He didn’t even know when the traditional 12-hour driver’s shift changes? Wow. He should be kissing Bloomberg’s 3rd-term butt in another position.

  • Cranberry Beret

    Yassky’s a dolt if he never noticed the sea of off-duty lights around 4pm in manhattan, and needed to commission a study. BUT I take issue with homer’s first sentence. The good thing for us brooklynites is that it’s very easy to convince an off-duty guy headed downtown to make a stop in the heights on the way to deeper brooklyn. This is actually one of the most convenient times to get a brooklyn-bound cab, you just need to employ a smidge of moxie.

  • eg

    My experience is that even at 3:30PM The taxis are already evasive about picking people up. By all means “moxie”, and don’t tell them you’re going to bklyn before you enter.

  • william

    There are 2 types of Taxi Medallions (owner’s permits). Individual or Fleet. Individual owner medallions costs more than fleet medallions.

    A fleet medallion is a company owned permit that is supposed to have 2 drivers working the taxi each day. A fleet taxi company can get TLC fines for not having 2 drivers working the taxi each 24-hour day.

    An individual owner medallion taxi doesn’t have restrictions on the number of hours worked each day. (Those are the “nice” cabs you see parked outside someone’s house at 3 AM.)

    If the taxi garage is in Brooklyn, a morning fleet driver will gladly bring you home at 4 PM. If the taxi garage is in Queens, the driver has to decide if he can make it back to Queens by 5 PM. (If the driver comes in late, the taxi garage owner will fine the late driver.)

    In the old days, there were taxi garages on Hudson Street (Dover). West 26th Street (Jane and St Anns). A several on West 57th Street, and several garages were in Harlem. Rising real estate prices drove all the Manhattan taxi garages to the outer boros.

    In Brooklyn, there used to be a fleet garage on Pacific or Bergen Street, and the garage address used to be posted on the both of rear passenger doors of the cab, so you could see where the driver was headed at 4 PM.

    If Bloomberg wants to knock some Manhattan condos down, you’ll have more Manhattan taxis on the streets at 5 PM. Or you can post the garage address on the sides of the cabs again. (Recycled Bright Idea – Yassky.)

    Driving a taxi is a terrible, dirty, dangerous job. Please be nice to the drivers.

  • driver

    people dont know how the busnis works ,is like telling a doctor what to do.
    a driver pays in advance 900 drs for week , the driver looses 4 hours work after midnight and during trafic hours.now he has to work 9 hours to recover his lease and take 2 or 3 hours work home
    and believe it or not .to serve 8 million people in nyc is not a politician job it is a hardworking immigrants job those who have no other option but drive a cab .the city has to work hard to keep drivers before it;s too late . i would like to say to those who act that life will never be perfect .and the city has to teach people how taxi works in nyc ,it s impossible for a driver to make a living within 8 hours shift ,this is funny .as we see more gaz stations moving away .the driver have to go to jersey city to fill up.and return his cab to bronx and come back pick up on water street.one more thing that drivers are moving to ohio ,texas recently and are calling thier friends to join them even some OF them moved to alberta canada.hey nyc wake up ,you drivers are leaving .in addition to all this ,it s hard for a driver to rent now within nyc and new jersey .most of the drivers travel almost 3 hours to get to his cab because theY live far away.
    tlc got to fix it and give drivers some hope////

  • Gimpy

    Yassky just now figured this out??? How did he get elected tlc commish?

    Driver makes very good points, there are some real reasons the drivers won’t take fares in the hour before the shift change, and slappinjg them with a fine for this practice would be cruel and shortsighted. These guys work hard at a very stressful, poorly paid job that most of their passengers wouldn’t do for any amount of money.

    Yassky, though, must have just now woken from a long nap if he’s just noticed this shift issue.

  • David on Middagh

    For an edifying read: “Hack” by Melissa Plaut (Villard, 2007)

    The subtitle: “How I Stopped Worrying About What To Do With My Life & Started Driving A Yellow Cab”

  • william

    When I drove a hack 30-years ago, I was a part-time college student. I had to join a union, and I worked on a commission of 43% of the meter, and I kept all my tips.

    I paid the dispatcher all of the meter total at the end of the shift, and I got a company check (less taxes and union dues- $4 per shift) at the end of the following week.

    The union took dues, and provided no benefits at all to the drivers. (Dues were basically a shake-down). If you didn’t bring in the expected shift quota, the garage would fire you. You would have to drive 10 to 12-hours straight to meet the quota. My former night dispatcher was named Lou, and was the inspiration for the Danny Devito character on the TV show in the 70s.

    I had no set days, or nights, and I worked whenever I wanted (needed to). I worked from 3 PM to 5 AM. And had a gun stuck in my face twice. No cell phones then, no 2-way radios in the fleet cabs. The owners inspected their own cars, and they would break down once a week. The garage mechanics were untrained and unskilled. The cabs had no air-conditioning.

    The garage had it’s own gas pumps, and it’s own tow trucks. When a cab broke down, you looked for a pay phone, and waited to be picked-up. Then you got another cab, and drove that one until it broke down. The driver didn’t pay for gas. The garage supplied that.

    I started driving in 1979, and the last year I drove was 1982. That year, 21 taxi drivers were killed in hold-ups. It was the most dangerous job in the city back then. Something like 3 firemen, and 4 cops were killed that year.

    Things are much worse now because the driver leases the cab from the owner, and the driver now takes all the risks. The driver pays the owner in advance for the week, or day. The leasing driver buys his own gas.

    Now days, a driver can work 12-hours and earn nothing for himself. The owner gets his money, and the driver just gets screwed by the system.

    Also, the traffic is much worse now. Bloomberg took lanes away for pedestrian malls, and traffic just doesn’t move as fast any more. A driver can’t make any money sitting in a traffic jam.

    Yassky didn’t earn his job as Taxi Commissioner. He has no qualifications for the job. He has never driven a taxi, or worked in the industry.

    As a former City Councilman, Yassky voted for Bloomberg’s 3rd term, and his position is his reward. He’s just another azz-kisser. And he can’t solve anybody’s problems. Yassky doesn’t have the brains, or the balls to fix anything. He is just collecting a city paycheck as payback.

    The present leasing-system is the problem. If drivers worked on commission again, things would be much better for everyone, except the owners.

    I really feel sorry for today’s taxi drivers. It has to be the worse job in the world.