Some drivers said the costs of the credit card and debit equipment would reduce their profits and others protested GPS, suggesting such a thing could compromise their privacy. The planned changes in the taxi industry was the subject of a public hearing Jan. 4 called by the City Council Transportation Committee headed by Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing). Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said the credit/debit card proposal was "nothing but a scam." Desai estimated that New York City's nearly 40,000 licensed cabbies would be paying up to five percent for each transaction involving a credit or debit card. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission authorized a 26 percent increase in taxi fares in 2004. It was contingent on the taxi industry accepting a variety of high tech equipment, including some of the items to which some cabbies object.Screens similar to those in bank teller machines and activated by a touch would provide sports scores, news, movie and restaurant information and advertising. Some cab drivers who came to the hearing expressed concern that GPS could invade their privacy, something Taxi and Limousine Commission officials denied. Several cabbies also suggested the occasion could arise when credit card/debit machines stopped working and the customer carried insufficient cash. Both Councilmembers Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) and Daniel Garodnick (D-Manhattan) said they objected to the planned kind of advertising in taxis. In any case, the Taxi and Limousine Commission is going ahead with the conversion of the 13,000 Yellow Cabs, having hired several vendors to install and maintain the high tech paraphernalia with a target date of late 2007.Reach reporter Philip Newman by e-mail at news@times
©2007 Community News Group
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