Friday, July 18, 2014

$15 minimum wage will force Chicago taxi meter up $1 a mile -- why wait?

If and when the minimum wage (local, state or federal) is raised to $15, the city of Chicago (and other localities) may be forced to add a dollar a mile to the taxi meter rate – or it may be left with few taxi drivers. If we honestly desire a much higher minimum wage, then, for the same reason we should want to add that dollar now. Could not possibly harm drivers (ask them).

It could be a test for today of whether our hearts will be in the right place on the minimum wage tomorrow.

I had been wondering why the price of taxi medallions multiplied something like 12 X over approximately 25 years to $360,000 – for the privilege of doing such an overworked/underpaid job?

Between 1981 and 1997, when I was still driving, the city allowed one 30 cent a mile increase, at which 1990 midpoint it began building subways to both airports, opening up unlimited limo licenses, putting on free trolleys between all the hotspots downtown (the Aquarium use a be our second hottest spot, after O'Hare) – and adding 38% more taxis! Today's meter is $.50 a mile lower then it was in 1981 adjusted for inflation.

I would guess the $360,000 explanation might be the American $400 “maximum wage” labor market – which I was recently horrified to catch on to at these two sites:

These drivers come 10,000 miles through fire and water (or whatever immigrants come through these days :-]) only to find that, in our labor  market, if they are not trained as a x-ray technician or some such skill, about $400 a week, at most $500 a week is the max they can hope to top out at.  Anything is better than facing that.


I personally am horrified (there's that word again) that most of the non specific skill set people I encounter working every day, all day may to be living close to destitution!  “The median wage in the US per person is $26,695.“
Then, I read that only 800 Chicago drivers own medallions.  Mmm. Most medallions were owned long before prices reached today's altitudes – up five times since 2006. If the city is able to auction off 50, wonder how many other owners are selling? Maybe it's a bubble. Maybe the bubble will burst when the minimum wage reaches $15. Which is where we came into this movie.
 * * * * * * * * * *
Uber?  I was a gypsy cab driver in the Bronx in the 1970s.  We had livery plates – making it legal to pick up by dispatch.  Our insurance was twice that of medallion cabs (reflecting that our driving skills were twice as good?).  We could not legally pick up on the street by hail – technically -- but the mayor instructed the police not to ticket us for that because the yellow cabs would not service the areas we served.

Little did we realize we were being ripped off – we and the limo companies and the taxi drivers! We never guessed we could just use any central dispatch station (VHF radios then – before cell phones) and simply "share rides" with anyone with any car! Holy mackerel!

I think it's time for taxi drivers in Chicago to begin putting in some time – perhaps during hours the city won't let them work – “sharing rides” in their own cars – especially on their days off which might become Friday and Saturday nights. Just experiment a little at first -- gradually they could shift from all taxis to no taxis.

Something for new immigrants to ponder seriously.

Legal aficionados may catch some resemblance between Uber’s “ride sharing” self-description and recently deceased Aereo’s claim it was just leasing antennas, not purveying copyrighted material without paying royalties.  But legalities may never be able to intrude as long as yuppies like “ride sharing” (and Chicago’s mayor’s brother Ari Emanuel, is a major investor in Uber?).  It is a good thing “ride sharing” did not start out on Chicago's poorer West side or South side neighborhoods or it would have been squished in the first week – literally.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

If you want a cab this is a must visit blog for you!!
tunbridge wells taxi