New York Taxi Drivers Strike Over GPS

Caitlin Dempsey




A group of taxi drivers launched a two-day strike Wednesday, right in the middle of the New York Fashion Week and the U.S. Open tennis tournament, to protest a city plan to require GPS tracking in cabs.

NY cab drivers are on strike Wednesday, September 5th and Thursday, September 6th for 48 hours over plans by Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to install GPS technology in all cabs.  The New York Taxi Workers Alliance [NYTWA], which represents the taxi drivers, states that the objections are:

“There are two issues. One is moral and constitutional, the other is financial,” said NYTWA spokesman Bill Lindauer, in New York. “Under the system [mandated by TLC] drivers are tracked, they’re spied upon. It’s like we’re under surveillance. Not only are we under surveillance we have to pay for the dubious privilege.”

TLC, which oversees 13,000s taxis, mandated in a law passed last year that “taxicab technology systems” be installed by October of ths year.  Part of this system will include a rear seat monitor that will display, among other things, ” a map allowing the passenger to follow his or her journey through New York City and surrounding metropolitan areas.”

Part of the resistance by cab drivers and owners is the cost of the system.  The system is reported by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance to cost an average of $5,400 to install and $175 to maintain per month.  More concerning to NYTWA based on the details on their website (link no longer available) is the perceived monitoring of taxi cab drivers by the TLC through GPS technology.

“GPS is a computer software which will be attached to the taxi meter and track the taxi. GPS will automatically tell the TLC where you were, at what time, how many fares/trips per shift, when you’re off duty and how much money you’ve made.” ~

The TWA counters:

WA spokesman Allan Fromberg said that the GPS technology is there to facilitate an electronic trip sheet—something that driver’s already do before they begin a fare—and to help passengers find lost items.

“Right now the first thing a taxi driver does is write something on a clip board. That information will now be electronically transferred [to the system],” said Fromberg, in New York. “GPS is used to facilitate an electronic trip sheet and to facilitate the return of lost property without the [passenger’s knowledge] of a medallion number. Of our 88,000 passengers [that lost something last year] the majority don’t know what cab they were in. With the vehicle location system we’ll be able to triangulate—take a snap shot in time—of several cars in the vicinity of a drop off,” to narrow down which car the passenger was riding in when the item was lost.

Photo of author
About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

Free weekly newsletter

Fill out your e-mail address to receive our newsletter!