Taxi Drivers To Be Heard On Safety Demands
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Aired 11/15/11 on KPBS News.
For the first time, taxi drivers will get representation on a committee that advises the Metropolitan Transit System on taxi regulations. It is seen as a first step to addressing drivers' long-time demands about safety and high fees.
SAN DIEGO Taxi cab drivers in San Diego are contractors: Their permits are regulated, and most drivers lease their cars. Those fees add up to about $60 a day, without the cost of gas.
"The first $100 does not belong to you; it belongs to the cab companies and the gas," said Mikaiil Hussein, President of the United Taxi Workers of San Diego. "A lot of drivers are just working for their leases, that's all. So I'd say they make about minimum wage."
After the November 15th Metropolitan Transit System Taxicab Advisory Committee (MTS-TAC) election, the 800-member strong taxi driver association plans to once again bring up the issue of lease fees through their new elected representatives. Two recent shootings of drivers have also revived calls for better safety measures inside taxi cabs.
According the Department of Labor, cab drivers are 60 times more likely than other workers to be assaulted or killed while on the job.
Cities like New York have adopted safety measures like bullet-proof dividers and in-car video cameras, and San Diego cab drivers have been asking for similar measures for years.
"There is always a danger in the cab industry," said Hussein. "Tragic incidents always happen, but we have to make sure at least to have some kind of protection for their drivers. Because the drivers, they're the ones serving the community."