NYC taxi drivers strike over GPS, wireless credit-card systems


NEW YORK CITY-A strike launched yesterday by a group of taxi drivers protesting the installation of global positioning devices and wireless credit-card systems had minimal impact on New York City transportation.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, an advocacy group that represents about 8,000 cab drivers, said yesterday morning that around 90% of the city’s 13,000 taxis weren’t operating. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which organized the strike, represents about one-fifth of the city’s 44,000 cab drivers.
Taxi lines were longer than normal, but many commuters took advantage of sharing rides and, by yesterday afternoon, it appeared that some drivers who may have stayed home during the morning rush hour were returning to work.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday afternoon that the majority of the city’s cabs were operating normally.
“The city has not come to a stop and we hope that more drivers will come back to work as they realize that this strike is not going to achieve anything,” Bloomberg told reporters, adding that he has no plans to enter discussions with the drivers on strike.
The New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance last week called for the 48-hour strike, which started yesterday. Drivers are protesting the city-mandated installation of GPS systems in their cars, which many say infringes on their privacy.
Cab drivers also object to having wireless debit- and credit-card systems in cabs, which would allow passengers to charge their rides but cost drivers up to 5% of each transaction in fees.
In order to mitigate the effect of the strike, Bloomberg on Tuesday announced the details of a strike contingency plan aimed at offsetting transit delays.
The contingency plan, which went into effect yesterday, included $30 per person flat rates for group rides between Manhattan and John F. Kennedy International Airport, and $20 per person group-ride rates between Manhattan and LaGuardia International Airport. Airport riders who choose non-group rides paid normal metered rates.
New York City riders were charged via a zone-based fare structure that charged $10 per person for travel within seven specified zones, and an additional $5 per person for each zone subsequently entered or passed through. Manhattan was divided into four zones, while each of the outer boroughs was its own zone.
Kira Bindrim, and contributor Catherine Tymkiw, are reporters for Crain’s New York Business, a sister publication to RCR Wireless News. Both publications are owned by Crain Communications Inc.

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