NYC Reform for Taxi Cab workers

Keeping A New York City trademark alive in the age of Uber and Lyft.

Photo of Mckenna Kelley
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Date Started

December 11, 2017

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

My Father , who passed away in early 2014, was a Taxi Cab driver in the late 80's before he met my mother. After hearing his stories I've always had a personal admiration and respect for Taxi Cab workers. After witnessing the massive take over of Uber and Lyft, a brief but unpleasant personal experience waiting for public transportation, and the recent reveal of a string of taxi workers who committed suicide due to low wages, I decided to try and create a proposal that would protect Taxi workers and also give city residents the same accessibility as riding the bus or train. Check out my video, and continue reading my page to uncover more!

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The once high priced Taxi medallion is now rapidly loosing it’s value, need, and becoming harder to acquire because of these ride sharing apps. The problem lies within the frayed medallion system and the lack of protection for Taxi workers. It's a call for a total modernization of New York City transportation, protecting Taxis no longer under the medallion system, but under the same rights as public transportation workers.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The goal of this project will protect all New York City Yellow cab taxi workers under law with a starting entry salary and hourly wages. Taxi Cabs will be protected under NYC public transportation laws and New York City residents would even be able to buy monthly ,or weekly cab rides just as they are able to do for the MTA wherever Metro cards are sold. Under law , Taxi workers will have legal shifts with hours not exceeding a legal work week. Taxi Drivers are also entitled to overtime with a specific overtime schedule, and specific line routes and dispatches in order to effectively cut rush hour traffic and keep roaming taxi cabs off of the city streets to increase customer use. Taxi workers earn fair starting commission from rides and the concept of the medallion would be replaced with training for new taxi workers, background checks, and license certification. Existing medallion drivers will be entitled to a higher starting salary and higher commission/ hourly rates. The City would also be entitled to limit the amount of Lyft and Uber drivers hired in the city at a given time to give equal competition. This would also call for modernization of the "Get Taxi" App.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

This reform takes a group of dreamers highly dedicated to seeing a city modernize it’s approach to transportation as a whole. This takes people with determination who are able to communicate an idea that seems completely out of the box but if taken to the next level could radically change an entire city or cities for the better. Getting involved would require going to Taxi associations, local state legislature, media, and the streets to passionately survey public opinion. You should expect to be communicating with government officials and working class citizens alike. This requires a team ready to research and deliver facts, and offer solutions to loopholes presented by the team, and the taxi workers and associations we communicate with for a valued outcome. Expect to speak publicly and brainstorm in meetings as we draft a proposal to take to the NYC Mayors Office and the state Senate.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

If this proposal was put into action by citizens and government officials in New York City, the impact would have the potential to change all major cities across America still using the medallion system for their cities Taxis. It would protect them under the same rights as public transportation systems, and allow customers the same accessibility as ride sharing apps. This would put car services and Taxis all across America on the same level playing field, and recognize and respect them as a branch of public transportation. The approach to this isn’t radical, but gradual.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

This proposal is still in the idea phase and needs a team to take it to the next level. When assembled, the team would start first by reaching out to New York City Taxi alliances and forming meetings. Throughout the course of these assemblies we would ask general questions and acquire information to build statistics and assess overall general feeling towards this modernization. We would tackle loopholes and make a proposal strong enough to take to government officials with hard core facts and stories from the taxi workers themselves. After talking to numerous taxi drivers just on rides home about this idea, it has already received positive feedback and given more insight on what needs to be done. If only a few workers I’ve communicated with are on board, imagine what a result talking to the masses would produce?

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Throughout the course of the next few months of summer a draft proposal will be written to take to the Taxi Alliances. Meeting will be configured, as well as general public surveys, and we can begin drafting the final proposal once we smooth out loopholes and get more insight from personal stories and opinion. After the final proposal is drafted from the information acquired, an inquiry to meet with city council members will be generated where the proposal can be taken to the next level: The Mayors Office. The goal is to send this off to the state legislature by early to mid 2019, so we can begin talking about what is next and how to make the modernization a reality.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

This project starts with the people and ends with the people. A website where social media surveys can be generated, videos shared, and articles produced is necessary in order to inform and conform the masses. A team of highly dedicated people concerned about city workers rights is how to get this project truly up and running. A space would be needed to generate ideas, and funding would be necessary to keep a website and social media handles intact, and for app developers to modernize the "Get Taxi" app. This project is a direct non profit and is only in the interest of cultivating a new generation of transportation. This needs YOU.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

I’ve dedicated my entire life to trying to find new ways to effectively communicate with others and solve solutions. This day in age, we are loosing the art of skillful and persuasive conversation. We are forgetting that we can make a difference with just our voices. You would be surprised the amount of people who can relate to a cause without it directly affecting them. In this case however, it directly affects the way we view transportation as a whole. It isn’t about getting rid of ride sharing apps we all love and use, but rather protecting and upgrading the workers before them, and how they operate. Not everyone is on board with change, but mostly everyone is on board with making the world a better place to inhabit for all people. I am grateful for the multitude of people that have shown support for this cause in both my personal and professional life, who have inspired me to take this idea to the next level and have guaranteed their support in this cause. It’s about encouraging people to use their voices at any age, of any race, in any profession. Change cannot occur without the support of others. There is power in your voice. Please check out my attachments for more insight!

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
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Attachments (4)

The Tyranny of the Taxi Medallions.pdf

Article 4. Describes the use of the Medallion in depth and the tyranny surrounding the unfairness of it's use in the modern age city.

Why Are New York Taxi Drivers Killing Themselves? | WIRED.pdf

Article 3. A depiction of the string of NYC Taxi workers who have committed suicide working long hour weeks with barely any pay. They are demanding a reform not due to competition of Uber and Lyft, but due to basic survival.

NYC Taxi Driver Missing For Weeks Committed Suicide, Taxi Workers Alliance Says - NBC New York.pdf

Article 2. A NYC Taxi worker who was missing for weeks committed suicide because he was unable to care for his family. He worked fourteen hour work days with little pay. He is one of few within the past few years to do so.

Are Taxi Medallions Obsolete? |

Article 1. describing the value of the Medallion and it's current worth, as well as it's change in value because of instant cab services such as lyft and uber.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Claire Fallender

Dear McKenna, this is a very bold and creative approach to a very difficult problem. I love your compassion and empathy for taxi drivers who have suffered great financial losses from the introduction of ride sharing aps. I hope that you can advance this idea by building the team you mention. There are many elements to address around the financial aspects of the business model for this idea but you are inspired and have the drive to make this happen. Best of luck!

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