Spring 2004, p.14

Taxi Fare Hike Approved: Higher Pay Means Safer Cab Drivers

The new rider information sticker in taxis features T.A.-designed “Look for Cyclists” message.

In late March, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) unanimously voted to raise the base taxi fare from $2 to $2.50 and increase the fee from 30 cents to 40 cents for one-fifth of a mile of travel. T.A. strongly backed the hike at TLC hearings and in the news media. New York City taxi fares are at a 35 year low when adjusted for inflation.

Raising taxi fares will help to increase public safety. T.A.’s recent report, “Higher Pay, Safer Cabbies: The Relationship between Driver Incomes and Taxi Crashes in New York City” found a strong relationship between taxicab crash rates and driver incomes. Higher driver incomes are associated with lower driver crash rates. Taxi drivers who are under greater financial pressure tend to work longer hours and therefore become more fatigued and more likely to make mistakes that cause deadly crashes. In 1999, the last year for which data is available, cab drivers were involved in 16% of all injury crashes in Manhattan. Citywide, cab drivers injured 4,478 people in 1999, including 1,005 pedestrians and bicyclists.

Better paid drivers will help make cabs safer. However, the TLC should adopt many more cab safety measures. T.A. has recommended to the Taxi and Limousine Commission that it address speeding with devices such as a speed governor on engines, speed recording devices or external lights that illuminate when a cab exceeds 30 mph. T.A. also asked to the TLC to ban “bull bars” from the front end of cabs. Such attachments dramatically increase the likelihood that a cyclist or pedestrian will be seriously injured or killed in a crash.

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