Taxi Drivers to Protest Taxi Reform, Seeking an Alternative They Say Will Alleviate Cutbacks to Library and Fire Budgets

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Raymond Francois is a semi-retired driver who doesn't miss his days piloting a yellow Crown Victoria for Miami Dade Taxi. The 47-year-old Haitian used to leave the house before his kids woke up and come back after they had already gone back to sleep each night. He claims that many cabbies pull 18-hour days to make up for the exorbitant leasing fees paid to use their cars.

It was costing Francois $475 a week to rent cab number 507 from Miami Dade Taxi, he says, and finally the numbers became unsustainable. Now he works part-time for a different company and is rallying other drivers to protest what he claims are slave-like conditions.

Things have only gotten worse in his 14 years as a driver, he says. He claims that in 2007, the average driver paid about $350 a week to rent a car, and now they pay about $700. Francois is staging a protest on Monday against Mayor Gimenez's proposal that all Miami cabs servicing the airport become credit card equipped. His gripe is that there's nothing in the proposal that states who will front the costs of the machines -- and he fears it will be underpaid and overworked drivers.

"If you go out at one or two in the morning, you'll see drivers sleeping in their cars," he says. "The driver sometimes has to stay out for two days before going home because conditions are so bad."

Of course, anyone who's ever been in a Miami cab probably has a similar complaint about "conditions." Vehicles aren't standardized, random fees are added without explanation, and meters go up as cashless patrons are driven to ATMs in the wee hours of the morning.

An ordinance that would make the cabs move into the 21st century would probably be met with open arms by the general public.

But for Francois and the 300 out of Miami's 2,121 drivers he anticipates showing up in front of the County Government Office on Monday, the conversation about the credit card machines presents an opportunity for other reforms. As is, Gimenez's proposal would "continue with the current slavery system that has plunged the drivers. . . into the 15th century," he says.

New York City taxi drivers were resistant to change in 2007, when credit card machines became the standard there. They were worried about transaction fees and the possibility of a declined card. But just six years later, it's impossible to imagine the system still being cash only.

Do the drivers of Miami uniformly oppose the credit card machines? Not entirely. They recognize they will make the system better for customers, he says, which just means more business. He just wants to make sure that the ordinance doesn't give taxi companies another way to screw over their workers.

Francois says the county makes about $1.9 million per year from taxi drivers in fees and that the more than 40 cab companies here are making way more than that -- $180 million. If the county would just charge drivers a $6,000 licensing fee per year, it would increase revenue by $30,000,000, which that he adds would make up for the defecits in the fire and libraries budgets that have led to controversial cutbacks.

"We'd just like the county to sit down with the drivers so we can provide our input," Francois says.

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25 comments
danivene
danivene

And they say we don't know how to fight back in MIA. Resistance is beautiful. 

ICEMBERG
ICEMBERG

Joe and I will take care of you neg,,,,s dont u worry! By next year all of you won't be slaves no more! Maybe Uber can save you ! Lol

ICEMBERG
ICEMBERG

See u nig,,, s in my office with a Deposit if you wanna keep driving lol

Scott Nikolas Nappalos
Scott Nikolas Nappalos

Drivers in Miami are some of the worst paid in the whole county with many making less than minimum wage because of fines, high rental fees, and rampant abuse. Miami taxis have been called sweatshops on wheels for the poverty imposed on the largely immigrant workforce. The present proposal does not require the companies that run the industry to pay for the credit card machines and their transactions. That would mean further fees on drivers who barely break even. The drivers just want the people profiting off this horrible arrangement to pay for it. It's logical.

thtatguyusa
thtatguyusa

Miami Cabs are a joke.  I really feel for the drivers, but this article makes me feel its the companies behind the drivers...Miami cabs are OLD, smelly, the no credit card thing should have been fixed a decade ago....

and most of the drivers cant follow road rules....

drakemallard
drakemallard topcommenter


I think that, you know, you're always going to see a rise up of the workers, of the people at a certain point when they've been oppressed long enough.You know what they want? Obedient workers ­ people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this funking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club."

Kzm Ufc
Kzm Ufc

LOL. Chris: you should have asked that the fuck is he doinf driving a cab...unless the dumbass steering with his cock! LMAO

Leah146
Leah146

The answer to why taxicabs do not accept credit cards in the year 2013 is because of the design of the Miami-Dade taxi industry.

Our taxi system runs on a "medallion" system. A medallion is a for-hire license, which is required by the county in order to drive a taxi. Miami-Dade County sets a limited number of medallions in order to restrict entry into the market. Medallions are auctioned off by the county for $25,000 each. However, there is also a secondary market for these medallions that drive their value up tens of thousands of dollars higher. Some medallions are owned by drivers, but most are owned by third party investors who have nothing to do with the taxi industry.

Passenger Service Companies (PSCs)--what we all know as Yellow Cab, Super Yellow, etc.--serve as the intermediary between drivers and medallion owners. Drivers are required to pass through PSCs in order to buy insurance. Most drivers also lease the medallion through PSCs.

While the fare a taxi driver is permitted to charge is capped by the county, the lease he/she must pay to PSCs is unregulated. In fact, the Florida State Legislature passed a law that would prevent Miami-Dade County from capping PSC leases. As a result, drivers pay $400-$500 per week to PSCs while making sometimes only a few dollars per hour. Many have to work 15 hour days just to break even.

There is nothing wrong with having a credit card machine in taxicabs. I welcome the convenience. However, the proposed regulations say nothing about who bears the cost of installation and maintenance of these credit card machines. The ordinance also regulates the type of credit card machine taxicabs must have--and, of course, requires one of the most expensive kinds.

As the system is currently designed, drivers will likely bear the burden of these new requirements if the law is not more carefully written. Yes, credit card machines are important, but it is just as important to consider the impact on the drivers who are already being squeezed by regulations.

ashleyyoung344
ashleyyoung344

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Andrew Foster
Andrew Foster

They don't want credit card systems in their cars because then they wouldn't be able to pocket the cash

Christopher Blanco
Christopher Blanco

It's not just Miami, it's all of Florida! I had a cabbie lose his shit once when I told him I was paying with a card. He told me he had arthritis and it bothered his hand to write anything down. I mean, completely lost his shit, he was yelling and everything. I was just like sorry dude, you want money you have to take a card. Fuck cab drivers.

Alex Anico
Alex Anico

Fuck you taxi drivers! Get the damn credit card machine! Why do you think many people don't use taxis in miami?! If all of them took cc I'd be more inclined to call one. NY Cabbies did the same thing and you know what happened? They all got credit card machines and got more business and made everyone's lives easier...

Tu Madre
Tu Madre

If they do it in NYC they should do it here...who pays w cash anymore?!!

Craig Chester
Craig Chester

International visitors - especially from UK and Spain where cab drivers are required to take character tests and an extensive licensing process - must be appalled and disgusted upon their arrival to MIA. Our taxis are the worst possible 'welcome to Miami' one could have.

Marcia Gail Cooke
Marcia Gail Cooke

This is the worst cab city in country. No wonder they are trying to keep out Uber! Stupidity. World class city? Really?

Alan Gribble
Alan Gribble

is it bad enough that cab companies are extremely unreliable, rude, and non punctual when sending you a cab. but they also oppose something that's completely reasonable? you can charge credit cards on an iphone for god's sake. and its only more money for them.

Brad Beaty
Brad Beaty

This is retarded. It's time these cabbies stepped into the 21st century.

LeahSwanky
LeahSwanky

@thtatguyusa You are right. The companies are a major part of the problem. The medallion system enriches a few very powerful people. The drivers suffer.

Leah146
Leah146

@Craig Chester You might be interested in reading the following comment I posted to the Public Insight Network page posing the question: should taxis be required to have credit card machines? It's important to have a full understanding of why we don't have credit card machines before making broad pronouncements. 

The answer to why taxicabs do not accept credit cards in the year 2013 is because of the design of the Miami-Dade taxi industry.

Our taxi system runs on a "medallion" system. A medallion is a for-hire license, which is required by the county in order to drive a taxi. Miami-Dade County sets a limited number of medallions in order to restrict entry into the market. Medallions are auctioned off by the county for $25,000 each. However, there is also a secondary market for these medallions that drive their value up tens of thousands of dollars higher. Some medallions are owned by drivers, but most are owned by third party investors who have nothing to do with the taxi industry.

Passenger Service Companies (PSCs)--what we all know as Yellow Cab, Super Yellow, etc.--serve as the intermediary between drivers and medallion owners. Drivers are required to pass through PSCs in order to buy insurance. Most drivers also lease the medallion through PSCs.

While the fare a taxi driver is permitted to charge is capped by the county, the lease he/she must pay to PSCs is unregulated. In fact, the Florida State Legislature passed a law that would prevent Miami-Dade County from capping PSC leases. As a result, drivers pay $400-$500 per week to PSCs while making sometimes only a few dollars per hour. Many have to work 15 hour days just to break even.

There is nothing wrong with having a credit card machine in taxicabs. I welcome the convenience. However, the proposed regulations say nothing about who bears the cost of installation and maintenance of these credit card machines. The ordinance also regulates the type of credit card machine taxicabs must have--and, of course, requires one of the most expensive kinds.

As the system is currently designed, drivers will likely bear the burden of these new requirements if the law is not more carefully written. Yes, credit card machines are important, but it is just as important to consider the impact on the drivers who are already being squeezed by regulations.

miamitrev2
miamitrev2 topcommenter

@Marcia Gail Cooke  

Someone from Detroit has no room to criticize Miami. 

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