Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Supervisors,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of companies,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to at the hands of the MTA?
Indeed, the MTA's vacillations have made Hamlets of us all.
A permanent plan for the taxicab industry was supposed to already be in place ... was it six months ago? Then, the goal was changed to the first of the year. And, changed again to March 6h and, then, pushed back again 'till May.
The Taxi Advisory Council has been meeting since August of 2010 and has made over twenty recommendations. I believe that four of them have actually gone into effect: the meter increase, the Single Operator Permits, the 37 new medallions and the reduction of the selling age to 65. TAC has more or less come up with a permanent plan that might actually be looked at in May - though it was basically talked to death by last November.
And, at the same time as so little was being done about taxis by the MTA Board, an expensive study was commissioned, completed, written up and ignored. And, while this was going on, the Board expressed interest in Open Taxi Access only to let the idea die a lonely death in the cold and drafty hallways of 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.
In the meantime, we're left dangling like puppets, uncertain of the consequences of our actions or non-actions. Lacking the information to even make informed guesses about our future.
Take me, for instance. I'm supposed to be one of the winners of this scenario. I hold a Post-K medallion and, being over sixty-five, have a chance to sell it. But, should I? That depends. I'm healthy and could use more money in the bank. I probably could drive for a few more years and then sell the medallion. But, will that choice still be on the table next year? It should be ... but will it? Instead will the Board:
- Decide to flood the city with taxis, making my medallion and all others worthless.
- Decide that Director Malcom Heinicke really does know the business, take all the medallions and lease them out so that we cab drivers can pay off the huge debt that was created for the city by the under-taxed rich.
And, what of the drivers on The List? They don't know if The List will continue to exist or, if it does, how deep it will go. There is talk of cutting the numbers off at 1,100. And, there is also talk of cleaning it up. Drivers around this number don't know if they are likely to get an "earned" medallion, if they should buy one while they have the chance, or if they should simply punt and go into another line of work.
The companies have trouble making business plans because they don't know what the future will look like and the drivers remain shackled to a corrupt system where new technologies and new scams take ever more chunks out of their incomes with every passing day.
This is a complex industry but decisions have to be made and made soon. Yet, they can't be made haphazardly. The Board has to learn and understand the issues. It'll take wisdom. For guidance the Board could do worse than take the advice of old Will Shakespeare.
"Neither a borrower nor an extorter be;
For a shakedown oft loses both itself and friend,(80)
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man"... or woman.
"Farewell. My blessing season this in thee!"