Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Taxi Cab Confessions

A few Saturdays ago, I hailed a cab to take me to Old City to meet up with friends. Upon entering the cab, I realized that the driver wanted to talk. No big deal, as the topic was basketball. Of course, he immediately told me that he was rooting for West Virginia because they had a lot white guys. It naturally went downhill from there, as he then preceded to tell me how little I knew about basketball. Clearly he hadn't seen my post on Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble, right? Am I right? Exactly. To make a long story short, the ride ended with him threatening me, telling me he had been in the Marines, and that I need to respect people.

Why did I feel the need to get that story off of my chest? I tell this story not only to highlight the fact that I live a Larry David-like existence, with conflict a permanent state, but also to discuss the sorry state of the taxi-cab industry in Philadelphia. I see this story and am happy to say that real change is coming. This past Sunday, the Philadelphia Parking Authority took control of taxi regulation, and it promises to implement a complete overhaul of the industry. Their promise of cleaner, safer cabs is welcome news. Anyone who has ever tried to hail a cab with their light on and passengers inside, gotten a driver who doesn't know where he is going, where the meter is rigged, or feel like the cab might fall apart the next time it hits a bump, change is finally coming. While fares will rise, it seems like a small price to pay for better service, cleanliness and safety.

Many cab owners and drivers are upset, threatening to strike. Their complaints ring hollow, a plea to allow business as usual. These cabs are one of the represntatives of the city, and it should be mandatory that they present a clean, safe image to those who use them. They had years to implement any changes, and they failed. I look forward to seeing the results of the PPA takeover, as their decision to adopt the regulations and blueprint that NYC set a few years ago proves that they are serious.

[Via Philadelphia:America's Hometown, who was on this story first, as always.

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