Yes, it finally happened. The Taxi and Limousine Commission announced yesterday that the the taxi fare would be increased by 17%.
What does this mean?
It means that, unlike the last two or three years, the rest of 2012 and 2013 will see me making more than the exact dollar amount I was making in 1984.
It means that, unlike his immediate predecessors, TLC Chairperson David Yassky has been able to consider the well-being of the 44,000 drivers who rely on him to set fares and other standards in a fair and intelligent manner.
It means that fares have been set with an eye to workers being able to live somewhat normal lives in a country that is not a “developing” one.
It also might mean — and I strongly suspect it does — that a tremendous band-aid has been placed on an industry just before the worst results of mismanagement kick in …
But what do I mean by this?
For the last several years the taxi business has been so badly managed that, according to dispatching personnel, no new drivers have been showing up to apply for taxi jobs.
With a trend like that, in time, there will be no available taxicabs in New York City, because there will be no one to drive them.
Ticket blitzes both for non-existent violations and legal acts have become epidemic in recent times. Hassles like never before have emerged at the offices of the TLC. The industry as a whole has been not so much regulated as micro-managed in an aggressive, know-nothing way, far exceeding anything in keeping with the original legislation that created the Commission 40 years ago.
From the start of his tenure as head of the TLC, I have noticed a different attitude in the current Chairperson. With the fare increase, he seems to have come through with an act emblematic of what I originally took to be his sensitivity to the needs of others, and a more evolved notion of what the term “public service” means than that possessed by those who went before him over the last ten years or so.
But, as I said, I can’t help but wonder, too, if the thought of the damage done to this industry by the last group in power did not make the need for keeping older drivers and attracting new ones a cause for a much needed — and long delayed — cash infusion. No one is going to turn out for a job in an industry with no respect for workers, no legality in enforcement, and no good ideas generally — and not very much money either.