Monday, February 4, 2013

Are you down and out in New York City? Consider driving a cab. Really.

Part of the reason I started spoofing passengers by telling them I'm from Tannu-Tuva was that I am a bit I-don't know-the-word but not pleased that there is an assumption that because I drive a taxi I am an immigrant. I love immigrants and don't feel there's any dishonor to being one. I'm getting at the notion that the American born should not be caught doing certain kinds of shall we say humbling work.

"Yo, whereyafrumm? Tannu-Tuva.

Glen, another driver at my garage, found out how simple it is to spoof people on the question of "where are you from?" He's a New York Jew..."
Lots of people are not cut out to be taxi drivers. The garage I am at descends from the famous Dover garage that was located on Hudson Street in the West Village and I drove there. In the early days the fleets had an advantage in recruiting taxi drivers, courtesy of Stanley Friedman, an Ed Koch crony who went to jail.

Anyone who wanted to become a taxi driver paid a small fee and took an open book multiple choice test repeatedly until he passed it (this was when Koch was constantly complaining about the low quality of taxi drivers, btw). Then you either waited months to get the license in the mail or you got it expedited by a big corporate fleet. The fleet put a sticker on your license and held it after your shift for a few months I don't recall just how long that was, to prevent you from getting work elsewhere. Indenture I think it is called.

These days there is a pretty rigorous test and a few schools that prepare one for it.

LaGuardia Community College Taxi and FHV Driver Institute
31-10 Thomson Ave,
M-142 Long Island City, NY 11101
(718) 482-5335
AMERICAN Master Cabbie Taxi Academy
24-29 Jackson Avenue.
Long Island City, NY 11101
H.A.N.A.C/N.Y.S. Federation of Taxi Drivers Academy
29-13 Queens Plaza North,
2nd FL Long Island City, NY 11101

EZ-License - 24 Hour Class
The Official 80 Hour Class
This class is offered to drivers with more knowledge of NYC. It is 24 hours of instruction over three(3) days and covers the following topics:
Map Reading Skills
Driver/Passenger relations.
Preparation for the TLC exam
You must have a TLC Receipt and TLC License # before you register for the 80 or E-Z License initial training courses
Every day except Friday 9:00am 6:00pm (3 sessions/24hours) $145 plus the cost of one TLC exam).
This ten (10) day training course will increase your chances of passing the taxi exam and increase your knowledge of NYC. This course also offers as many extra classes as you need to help you pass the TLC Exam at no additional charge and covers additional material not offered in the 24 hour course, including:
Comprehensive Instruction on TLC Rules and Procedures
Map-reading skills
Driver/Passenger Relations.
Free TLC taxi prep test
TLC exam
state-of-the-art Classroom Technology
You can start any time, any day. Classes are ongoing. Monday through Friday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm (10 sessions/80hours) $325 (includes books, unlimited classes and TLC exam)

 Once you pass the test you get your license pretty quickly. You can then go to any fleet garage (I'd recommend this at least as a start in the business, not everyone can see it through and you may or may not be cut out for it, A fleet offers very little commitment to start.) You go through this initiation routine, Think "On the waterfront." You come in early for work (shape up) and you get sent home with nothing. You come back. Again and again. In time you get called just about every day you show up if you are not late.  Later still you get offered a steady car. This usually means you are committed to six shifts a week.  You can stay as a shape up driver but that means there will be days you show for work and don't get a car from time to time.

They say tipping is customary but not required. Use your brain. Good luck! You can make over a thousand dollars a week and every day is payday. Not bad also for networking. People have been known to give out their CVs to passengers and get jobs.

Taxi fleets are listed here.