A sea of yellow taxis arrived in Albany today, as drivers incensed by the proposed $1 taxi tax to bail out the MTA and build bridges and roads upstate are taking their message to state lawmakers.
The caravan of around 40 cabs circled the Capitol and held a press conference on the east lawn, and drivers met with individual Senators and Assembly members.
Drivers say they have been hit hard by the recession, seeing a dropoff in ridership. They say the $1 will reduce ridership even further, lead to lower tips and deny them their own fare increases.
The surcharge, originally proposed by the state Senate Majority last week, is intended to raise $190 million in new revenue. Those funds would be split down the middle, with $95 million in revenue going to the MTA and the same amount going to finance bond issues that would leverage $1.2 billion for roads and bridges in upstate and on Long Island.
The cab drivers argue that the surcharge would be a regressive tax on the working and middle classes already hard hit by MTA fare hikes and the recession in general.
The rally was joined by Bronx Democratic Assemblymen Peter Rivera, who has proposed an alternate measure that would raise funds through a tax on jet fuel, and Jose Rivera, himself a former taxi driver.
“Driving a cab, in my view, is the more stressful job there is,” said Jose Rivera.
The motorcade was organized by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance and the League of Mutual Taxi Owners, joined in Albany by taxi brokers and owners.
David Pollack, executive director of the Committee for Taxi Safety, speaks out against the plan to add a $1 surcharge to the cost of every taxi trip within the MTA’s zone of service.