Tidbits for Political Junkies with Short Attention Spans & Hearty Appetites


Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Taxi Fares

Okay, this may not be a major news item for readers outside of New York City, but you may relate to the general theme.

The New York Times, reporting on a the just-approved increase in Taxi Fares, notes that "to soften the blow, the [Taxi and Limousine] commission also adopted improvements for passengers, including one that could make New York one of the first major cities where all cabs accept credit and debit cards."

Uh oh. Improvements.

Now, I don't know if you remember a television ad that ran a while back, for one of the credit cards, that depicts a hapless fellow waiting in line to buy hot dogs at some sporting concession. With dozens of other customers waiting in line behind him, he's still having trouble deciding how many hot dogs he wants when he reaches the front of the line, and only then discovers that he doesn't have enough cash to pay for them. Charming. Now I'm not sure what would happen where you live, but I think it's a safe bet that here in New York a lot us would be sorely tempted to throttle the guy.

New York does have its peculiar courtesies. One of them is know what you want, and be ready to pay for it, when you reach the front of a deli line. The corollary for taxis is know your cross streets, and be ready to pay when you get where you're going. Your driver, and the person getting into the cab as you're getting out, will appreciate it.

So, needless to say, I was a bit disappointed in the Times when I discovered this passage, towards the end of the article, describing just how much credit cards would "improve" the Taxi experience:

Out of 38 test trips conducted in a recent study by Mr. Schaller, he said, only 13 percent of transactions went through successfully. A significant problem is the time credit card transactions take to process, an average of two minutes and 20 seconds; that may be too long for drivers hurrying to their next fare and waiting in traffic.

I know it may be tempting to pay your taxi driver on the installment plan. But please, folks: carry cash.


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