Remember when the cabs didn’t have television screens in the backseat? Cab commuters have acquiesced quickly and most take the little news anchors in the back seat for granted. For the commuter the new technology is, at it’s worst, a minor annoyance, but for the cab drivers they represent a serious shift in the profession.
In March of 2004, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) mandated the implementation of T-PEP computers in all New York yellow cabs. In the following 3 years, despite union organized protests and a short strike, the TLC mandate was carried out and the T-PEP computers were installed in every medallion vehicle.
Jenna, a cabby hailing from Haiti has been driving since 1987. Jenna was kind enough to talk about his experience with T-PEP units. “We have no choice. I don’t think any drivers like it,” said Jenna cruising down Broadway. For Jenna the biggest problem isn’t the surveillance or the monitoring that these machines place on the cab, its’ the credit card swiper. “We lose the power of the cash,” said Jenna. “When you swipe the card the money doesn’t go to me, it goes to the company. It takes maybe three or four days to go through, sometimes more. Us drivers are now the 3rd party.” Jenna pulled out an envelope from the glove box and shows me a stack of cash and receipts. “That’s real money.”
Since the appearance of the T-PEPs Jenna has seen a huge increase in the number of fares paid in credit as opposed to cash “For every $200 maybe we get $130 on credit.”
The Taxi and Limousine Commission web site has a long page describing the benefits of the new technology. The site reassures drivers that that the GPS system will not be used ”to track drivers,” and that the system increases safety for drivers by reducing the amount of cash on hand.
The insult added to the initial injury is that drivers like Jenna will be forced to pay for the maintenance of the new technology. “They said that we would not pay for the computers, but that was just the installation that they paid for.” After 3 years cabbies will be required to pay $50 a month for T-PEP maintenance.
How are fares calculated?
Calculating the price of a ride can get complicated. Here is the official formula for calculating a fare as mandated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC):
$2.50 upon entry
$0.40 for each additional “unit”
The unit fare is:
One-fifth of a mile, when the taxicab is traveling at 6 miles an hour or more; or
60 seconds when not in motion or traveling at less than 12 miles per hour.
Night surcharge of $.50 after 8:00 PM & before 6:00 AM
Peak hour Weekday Surcharge of $1.00 Monday – Friday after 4:00 PM & before 8:00 PM