I have lived in NYC my entire life, minus 4 years. I've probably taken over a thousand cabs in the time that I've lived here. My Dad drove a NYC cab in the 70's. I'd say I'm exactly the type of customer that helps the TLC profit the most. Grew up on the UWS in over-fluffy conditions, and have a severe weakness being able to take the subway when the option has always been available to us of, "Why don't we just take a cab?" Taking a cab has always been an affordable luxury that I tend to over-indulge in, to the point of ridiculousness. But now TLC, now.... I think you are starting to lose me. Not because I have discovered the wonder that is the MTA, but because your service is at an all time low.
What started this mass evaluation on my part, was an extremely rude comment from a cab driver on a Sunday morning, about two months ago. My girlfriend and I had just hailed a cab, and were about 5 blocks into our ride, and we were having a serious conversation. The cab driver turned and looked, interrupting us, and asked me point blank if I was related to Chris Christie.
Where in the hell did that come from? Some of you might chuckle, and the idea is comical yes. I won't lie, I boast a fairly rotund body, and I am white, and I have that in common with Mr. Christie; however, this is no matter. The comment was rude and I've received them all my life. The problem I have, was that I was supposed to be paying this a*shole for his services. Needless to say, I told him to go fornicate with himself and got out of the cab without dropping a dime.
It doesn't matter if he meant to say it in a mean way, or if he was genuinely curious. The thing that bothered me was, curiosity or no, he didn't know to bite his tongue.
I filed a report and was fully ready to go after this guy with all I had. I was furious. My girlfriend was furious.
I was contacted a day later by a prosecuting attorney at the NYC TLC. I explained to him what happened and I could have sworn right after I said the words, "Chris Christie", he chuckled. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. But after telling me he would contact me to follow up, I received an email about half an hour later telling me the case was closed.
I didn't want the driver to be fired, I didn't want him to be even suspended, I wanted someone to tell him, that this behavior is not ok. To me, how they handled this, was as good as condoning the behavior of this driver.
The system in place that is set up for complaints does not work. We don't need a hearing to make a complaint about a rude comment, but that does not mean it should be overlooked completely either.
THERE ARE EXCELLENT CAB DRIVERS IN THIS CITY!!!!! I cannot say that loudly enough. Some of the best experiences I've had in this city, especially when it comes to human kindness, has been with cab drivers. I am sorry to those of you who do your job well, and take it seriously. What I am about to address does not apply to any of you.
Firstly, why does it seem that almost all new cab drivers these days, have absolutely no concept of the city layout? I got in a cab the other day, and the driver said I was his 3rd ride ever. "Uh oh" I though. I was on the corner of 107th and Columbus and had to get to 86th and amsterdam. For those of you who know Manhattan, you just laughed. This ride literally consists of driving down columbus, in a straight line, then making a right on 86th st. and stopping at the end of the block. Done. This driver proceeded to slow down at every light to see what street we were at, 106, 105, 104, 103, he had not figured out that the numbers go in sequence. When we approached 88th st, he started to drift to the left side of columbus. "Amsterdam is to your right" I said. He said yes, and almost took the left onto 87th, when I said "No, your other right, and a block down." I could tell this guy had not even looked at a map of manhattan, and this was the UWS which is a PERFECT GRID. God help him downtown or in BK.
Second, it has become the norm for cab drivers to talk on their phones, and or text. There's a camera on us when we ride in the cab, why not put a camera on the driver? That would stop texting and calling. Instantly.
And my final issue, courtesy. Uber has the TLC completely beat on this. Their rating system is so brutal that any review under 4 stars is often met by an email from an UBER rep, and maybe even a free ride because of the bad experience. But if I want to complain about a TLC driver being rude, I need a lawyer, and a hearing, and maybe something way more severe then needed.
It doesn't have to be this hard. It doesn't have to be this ridiculous. Maybe it doesn't have to be as harsh as uber, but there needs to be something. There is a new commissioner coming into the TLC and Yassky is out. I suggest we help this new director figure out the right direction for NY cabs, because right now, they are being destroyed by things that should have been worked out years ago.
Whether the TLC likes it or not, they are in the business of customer service, and unless they actually start to provide some, they are going to lose my business.
How do you think the TLC can improve?