New York City taxi and rideshare drivers to receive a living wage

We've talked before about how hard it is for folks driving for Lyft and Uber to break even. Things aren't so hot for cab drivers, either: as ridesharing becomes more prevalent by the day, those who own their own taxi or drive for someone else are finding it harder to make a living. The drop in revenue going into the pockets of New York City Taxi medallion owners has been so extreme that drivers have been forced to work 100-hour weeks just to stay out of the red. Others, feeling that their lives were ruined by mounting debt, out of desperation committed suicide. Today, New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission decided that they'd do something about it.

From Gizmodo:

Today, New York’s City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission approved measures to enact minimum pay requirements for app-based for-hire vehicles (FHV) like Uber, Lyft, and Juno. The new pay structure is set to take effect early in the new year.

The $26.51 per hour gross pay floor (estimated to amount to $17.22 per hour, less expenses) comes after “growing evidence of declining driver pay” was confirmed by a labor study, commissioned by the TLC, which concluded that 85 percent of drivers in NYC were earning less than the local minimum wage of $15 an hour. The new requirements will increase the average driver’s take-home pay by an estimated $9,600 per year.

Advocacy groups like the Independent Driver’s Guild and Amalgamated Transit Union have celebrated the change. “All workers deserve the protection of a fair, livable wage and we are proud to be setting the new bar for contractor workers’ rights in America,” Conigliaro, Jr., founder of IDG, wrote in a press statement.

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Seattleites: You'll soon be able to hitch a free ride in a 1967 Checker Cab

I met Seattle artist Marcia Wiley through my inbox zine a couple months ago. I had written about the idea of the "positive deviant," basically someone who strays from the norm but brings value rather than pain (akin to the "happy mutant"). The concept really resonated with me and I asked readers to send along names of positive deviants who they were aware of because I wanted to start a list. Marcia rightly offered up her own name, and, in our most recent communication, she shared a project of hers with me: "Miss Direction's Ride Service."

Since 2005, she has been bringing unexpected delight to strangers in a really fun way. Dressed in her alter ego "Miss Direction" driving outfit (below), she gives people waiting at bus stops a free ride to their destination in her Honda SUV. In exchange for the complimentary pickup, passengers share their story with her. It's been a great success.

Now she's looking to start "Miss Direction's Checker Cab Service." A 1967 Checker Cab has already surfaced for the job, but it needs some restoration work before she can take it to the streets. So, she's started a Kickstarter campaign to fund her dream of bringing "everyday magic" to Seattle, a place, she writes, "that is changing so rapidly that people often feel a loss of connection and have a sense that the city is losing its soul and becoming less unique."

This is her vow:

I'm committed to having Miss Direction’s ’67 Marathon Checker Cab on the road by November 11, 2018.

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NYC yellow cab drivers pose for pin-up charity calendar

You have many choices when it comes to purchasing a calendar for the new year. Now there's another contender: the 2018 New York City Taxi Drivers Calendar.

Described as a "comedic take on the traditional pin-up," the calendar features the Big Apple's "most scintillating and good-humored" yellow cab drivers and a portion of its proceeds goes to charity.

A portion of each calendar sale will go to University Settlement, America’s oldest settlement house (1886), based in New York City and serving over 30,000 immigrant and working individuals and families every year with basic services like quality education, housing, recreation and wellness opportunities, and literacy programs.

The calendar is available online for $14.99.

(Dangerous Minds)

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Oxford city council: every cab must have a CCTV to record riders' conversations

The Oxford city council has ruled that every taxi must be outfitted with a CCTV for the express purpose of recording passenger conversations that are to be held for 28 days in case the police wanted to conduct an investigation in which the footage might prove useful. The idea that peoples' words should be recorded when they are in public places "just in case," is really troubling, as it's hard to see why, if it's justifiable to record taxi passengers in case they're criminals, you wouldn't also record restaurant patrons, park-goers, bus-riders -- why you wouldn't, in short, record every word uttered in public just in case someone committed a crime.

And, of course, this is a natural progression from the existing CCTV doctrine that says you should record every person's movements (though not their words), for the same reason.

A council spokeswoman said the "video and audio would run all the time within the vehicle".

She said police would only locate footage, stored on a CCTV hard drive for 28 days, if it was needed for a police investigation.

She added: "The risk of intrusion into private conversations has to be balanced against the interests of public safety, both of passengers and drivers."

Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles said: "Given that one rail route to Witney [David Cameron's constituency] is through Oxford, we'll be letting the prime minister know that his staff might want to avoid using Oxford cabs."

Oxford taxi conversations to be recorded, council rules

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