Riding in a New York City taxi cab may occasionally feel like highway robbery, but try not too get mad at the cabbie: he's kind of getting robbed, too.
New Yorkers are a little on edge over the recent news that the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission is likely to raise the taxi rates by as much as 20 percent. Drivers and the cab companies have been lobbying for years for an increase, citing higher gas prices and other costs, however, but some drivers are not so sure they will see any of that extra cash. That's because every time the TLC raises rates, the cab owners raise the price the drivers must pay to use their cars.
You see, in New York the vast majority of drivers don't own their cabs. They rent them from taxi garages for as much as $133 for a single 12-hour shift. That's money they must pay in cash, up front, before they even get the keys. They also must pay for gas out of their own pocket. Plus, a "transit" fee to the city. If they bring the car back late, it's another $25. There's also the occasional traffic and parking tickets, minor maintenance, cleaning up after drunks on a Saturday night, etc. They do get to keep the tips — unless you pay by credit card, in which case the payment company collects a 5 percent transaction fee, part of which goes to the cab companies. Finally, there are the other "courtesy" fees (i.e., bribes) that they must fork over to keep garage owners happy if they want to get the best cars and shifts.