New York Cabbie September Strike Threat Still Looms Over Tip Monitoring GPS System

This image was lost some time after publication.
This image was lost some time after publication.

A couple of weeks ago one of us snagged a cab with a very chatty cabbie on the west side of Manhattan to run uptown and meet some friends for dinner. The driver had a bone to pick with the Big Apple over a new GPS system set to be installed inside city cabs later this year and somehow he thought I could help him make this not happen — or maybe he was just venting, we're not sure. Whatever the reason, Ackmaz apparently wasn't the only cabbie upset by the plan to install satellite positioning systems with a fun little credit card swipe system, route tracking and passenger route view screen in every yellow FoMoCo vehicle in the city. It now appears he and the rest of the 8,400 member (out of a 26,000 driver total) New York Taxi Workers Alliance are threatening a strike come September if the city moves forward. So, umm, why are the yellow-car Ford drivers so upset about a GPS system?


Two reasons. First, there's the public message, as noted by the NYTWA executive director:

"Taxi drivers sometimes use the cars in their private time. Why should they tell the TLC where they are going on a Sunday with their family? This is an invasion of privacy..."


OK, that's one viewpoint, but oh, wait, then there's the second reason —the one they're not publicizing, but my boy Ackmaz explained to me as such:

"If they let people pay with the cards, the IRS will know how much we're making in tips. Why should the IRS know that and take my money from me?"

We've been asking that question for years my friend. [Yahoo! News]

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I know it's tough making a living as a cabbie in NYC, and maybe I'm not sure exactly how these things work but my two cents are thus:

1. In any other business how is it ok to take the company car out for the weekend with your family? Especially when that car is what's being used to make money? What if something happens to the car during that time that needs to be fixed? Is his company going to pay for what he did to his car on his private off-hours time? Again, I don't know if maybe that's his only vehicle, but I would assume not.

2. It sucks that things will get tighter for reporting tips, but to be fair, cabbies would get a lot more riders by taking credit cards. There are a lot of them here in philly that do, in fact I think there was some sort of blanket thing where they all got the readers installed. I've run across a few drivers that say they "don't work" though, which I suspect are just trying to be like this guy and not report the tip. Personally, I hate carrying cash. If I have cash I'll spend it on dumb things but if I have to run to an ATM or use my debit card I have to second guess how much I have.

I think the cabbies are worried also that the GPS system will give customers the ability to say "Hey isn't this a pretty circuitous route? Why can't we just go this way?" when the driver takes tourists on the scenic route for more money.