Taxi Passengers in New York City who couldn’t believe how much their fare was may have been on to something—the Taxi and Limousine Commission revealed this past week that close to 36,000 yellow taxicabs in the city overcharged passengers by about $8.3 million over the past two years. That’s roughly three quarters of all yellow cab drivers, if you were wondering. Approximately 3,000 of those drivers overcharged passengers more than 100 times. All in all, about 1.8 million passengers were overcharged. How? The drivers switched their meters to higher out-of-town rates that should only apply outside the five boroughs. That means that rates for 1/5 mile doubled from 40 cents to 80 cents. Passengers were overcharged about five dollars per ride.
Criminal charges will in all likelihood be brought against some of the drivers, according to Mayor Bloomberg.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance blamed the GPS meters, saying it was technological failure and that there were no witnesses. (The “no witnesses” part seems to make their case a little shaky, no? And by the way, the dog ate my homework.)
The TLC actually made the discovery using the GPS technology.
A number of cab drivers came forward to say they were outraged by the scam.
Incidentally, former city councilman David Yassky will replace Matthew Daus as head of the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission. He ran (unsuccessfully) for city comptroller lat fall.
All we can say is—take public transportation when possible—and when you do take a cab, keep your eye on the meter–and on your wallet.
Even if you’ve never actually ridden the Roosevelt Island Tram, you may well have seen it, wending its way–sometimes majestically, sometimes shakily–across New York’s East River.
Riders–and gawkers—had their last tram experience for a while yesterday (Sunday, Feb. 28) since the tram will be out of commission for the next six months, undergoing repairs and renovation. Service on the tram was suspended starting at 2 am today (March 1).
The renovation project, which is estimated to cost $25 million, will overhaul everything except the three bases of the towers that support the cars. A backup power system will be in place should the cars malfunction, the way they did in the spring of 2006. Seventy passengers were left hanging (literally) for seven hours. In the event of such an emergency, the car will be able to return to the nearest station.
Service should be more reliable when the cars are refitted–and the cars themselves will be more comfortable. Loading people on and off the trams, which carry more than two million people a year, will also be easier.
So what are commuters to and from Roosevelt Island to do in the meantime?
Put it like this: The Q102 bus, two shuttle buses, and the F train will become very familiar to them. Commuters, however, are concerned because not only does the renovation eliminate a convenient form of transportation, but many say the F train frequently doesn’t run.
They should take heart, though: Service is supposed to resume September 3–just in time for the back-to school, after-summer rush.
When your apartment looks dowdy, do you change the entire space, or make small fixes? (Assuming you’re on a budget like the rest of us, that is.)
If you said “small fixes,” then bingo! You’re taking the same approach as New York City Transit with the subway stations.
Instead of overhauling each New York subway station whole hog; “station renewal” is now the name of the game.
What’s the difference? Instead of completing revamping a station, smaller changes will be made: individual items that need to be upgraded or fixed will be taken care of (stairs, lighting, signage), while everything else will be left alone. (Um, shouldn’t they have been doing that already??)
Work is slated to begin in the first targeted stations next year.
It costs approximately $60 million to completely renovate one station, as opposed to $15 million for a partial fix. The budget that has been allocated for this program should allow 130 subway stations to be spruced up, in addition to overhauling 25 others. (For the same price, about 14 stations could be completely overhauled.)
In the 1980s, the MTA had the lofty goal of completely revamping all 468 stations in 35 years. Thirty years have passed–and not quite half of them have been done.
One teensy weensy problem exists, however: The plan hasn’t been approved by state leaders yet—because—wait for it–no one seems to know just where the money is actually coming from.
Do you work and play well with others? Do you like to share?
If so, you’re a perfect candidate for the taxi fare-sharing program that will be rolled out this Friday, February 26 in New York. (You’re also ready for preschool, but that’s another story.)
“Group ride” rates are being started this week: Share a cab with strangers, and save big.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission is planning a series of initiatives that will be rolled out over the next year. First up: the yellow cabs will have drop-off and pick-up areas during the morning rush hour, 6 am to 10 am.
Also planned: Later in the year we’ll see “ride sharing,” where riders can hail cabs that already have passengers and split the fares. How will people know where the cabs are going? Some kind of signage will display the neighborhood towards which the cab is heading.
Starting Friday, cabs will depart from areas including West 57th Street and Eighth Avenue, with drop-offs on Park Avenue between 57th and 42nd Streets; West 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue, with drop-offs on Park Avenue from 72nd Street to 42nd Street, and East 72nd Street and Third Avenue, with drop-offs on Park Avenue from 72nd Street to 42nd Street.
More than one person has to be in the cab for the discount to be applied, and fares per person will be $3 or $4, depending on location. Once a ride has started, no more passengers can be picked up.
Fewer vehicles on the street; more transportation options; less money for passengers to shell out: Sounds like this ride is going the right way.
Think you can walk faster than a crosstown bus can take you to your destination?
The Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives group announced their Pokey, Trekkie, and Schleppie Awards yesterday for New York’s worst bus rides–the slowest, longest, and most unreliable bus service in the city.
The winner (loser?) of the Pokey Award went to the M42, which goes (slowly) across 42nd Street. It now carries the notoriety of being the slowest bus in New York: At noon on a weekday, it traveled a majestic 3.7 miles an hour. Yes, you can walk that fast, if not faster.
Why does it take so long?
Mix midtown congestion (read: traffic) with a healthy helping of many riders, all of whom have to put their metro cards into the slot, and bingo! A recipe for a two-book, three-newspaper, 12-phone-call, 50-songs-on-the-ipod journey.
This year’s Trekkie (longest scheduled running time) goes to the M4, which runs between Penn Station and Fort Tryon in Manhattan, clocking in at a grueling, mind-numbing, one hour and 50 minutes.
You could be in another state–several other states—by then. (Not counting despair, agony, and downright frustration).
The Schleppie (least reliable bus route) went to the B44 in Brooklyn.
The MTA says it hopes to improve bus speed and reliability. Plans for new payment methods, a system that should let riders know when their bus is coming, and better enforcement of bus lanes is also in the offing.
In the meantime, buy a pair of sneakers.
Tired of paying $2.25 for bus fare? We certainly are. But if New York’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg has his way, transit riders on crosstown buses will get a break–the mayor has proposed that all crosstown buses be free.
The plan makes sense: It would both encourage ridership (fewer cars; good for the environment) and ease people’s financial burden (good for people’s wallets and psyches.) Bloomberg explained that by drivers not having to collect fares, they would be able to load and unload passengers much more quickly. Many crosstown bus riders are already using the subway, so not much revenue would be lost. (Crosstown buses are also arguably among the slowest in the city.)
Any lost revenue, Bloomberg argued, would be made up by faster travel times, which would allow fewer buses on those routes.
Bloomberg has proposed a number of transportation-related incentives in recent weeks as part of his re-election campaign, but the MTA, oddly enough, is not subject to much control by the mayor (he controls 4 of the 14 votes on the board.) The proposed incentives have included reopening several Long Island railroad stations in Queens and extending the V line from the lower east side into Brooklyn.
Whether the mayor actually has the power to put any of these initiatives into effect remains to be seen–but using the word “free” to lure voters in an election year is often a good ploy.
A pilot program for a “real-time” bus arrival information system is being tested on 34th Street as part of an effort to upgrade New York City’s bus service. The announcement was made by Mayor Mike Bloomberg; MTA officials; and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. The routes carry 17,000 passengers every day.
The program launches at eight New York bus shelters that serve two 34th Street lines; they include eastbound bus stops at Park, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Avenues, as well as westbound stops at First, Second, Third and Lexington Avenues. The information signs are updated every 30 seconds and announce the waiting time, in minutes, until the next bus arrives. The program uses computer-generated GPS satellite technology installed on the M3 and M16 routes.
The program will be evaluated over a six-month period with the goal of expanding the routes and stops; sadly, no plans seem to be in process for a similar program on the subway system, where it’s sorely needed. (Other cities already have such programs in place.)
NYC Transit is also exploring whether real-time arrival information could be made accessible to the public on cell phones or the internet.
On the upside, the pilot program will not cost the city (or the MTA) anything, since GPS technolgy is provided by Clever Devices (real name, honest); and panel space for the LED signs by Cemusa.
Mayor Bloomberg and several other elected officials recently announced that more than $46 million in Transit Capital Assistance Grant funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be put towards the renovation and maintenance of ferry boats and piers in New York City. Money will also be used to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.
In addition to money from stimulus funding, previous city and federal funding will bring the total amount allocated to the projects to more than $139 million; the projects will help create and keep more than 1600 jobs.
Among other benefits,upgrading the ferry system should help encourage commuters to leave their cars at home in an effort to reduce air pollution.
Projects include maintenance and repair of six Staten Island ferryboats; accessibility upgrades for several public ferry landings, including those at East 90th Street, East 34th Street, and Pier 79 at West 39th Street; and the rehabilitation of Pier 11 (South Street between Wall Street and Pine Street).
Oh yes—never think that the everyday needs of the weary traveler have been overlooked: Among the many structural changes to Pier 11, ferry riders will be glad to hear that canopies to protect passengers from inclement weather are on the agenda as well.