Aug 25, 2011 Walt Shepperd Uncategorized
Back in the day, 6 a.m. buses were packed with workers heading for the factories, which then still provided the Salt City with its stability. A sense of community was infectious as those who toiled in different departments traded strategies for accessing bathrooms too distant from work stations to hold it for the time allotted to navigate long hallways. Those boarding at each corner had become so familiar that drivers would hold at a stop waiting for a delayed regular, even sending another rider to knock on a door if the delay went overlong.
Over two generations Samadee watched as the factories closed, the city population declined by 100,000, and the bus routes cut back on time and destination. Still, he rode the buses, saving considerably on the monthly payments, insurance, breakdowns, repairs and stress which accompanied acceptance of the demands of America’s car culture. The saving enabled the luxury of taxi cab rides, for destinations bus lines no longer reached, or when distance between destinations required direct and time certain conveyance, or when a sense of treating himself felt appropriate as reward for a difficult task accomplished.
Coming out of New York City, where the same cab driver might not be encountered twice in a lifetime, Samadee also discovered the comfort of making a phone call for a cab — as opposed to hailing those driving by on Big Apple streets, which, depending on the hailer’s appearance, might not result in a ride. Cab rides in Syracuse, he found, provided the bonus of on-going, if segmented, discussions with John about most recent discoveries of old school R&B, and with Vince and Jacques about politics, especially the politics of the local taxi cab industry.
Last week representatives of that industry gathered at the Atrium in City Hall Commons, drawn by a call to action in response to the latest curve ball thrown at local cab drivers.
There had been decades of contention over the right to ferry fliers back and forth, to and from the airport. There had been the recent hike in cab license fees from $60 to $300. There had been the disappointment in arrangements which had diverted much of the women’s bowling tournament traffic, especially to Turning Stone, to out-of-town vehicles.
But the 20 company and independent drivers present came out of concern for the unannounced relocation of the taxi stand. Long a fixture on the 300 block of South Salina Street, where it was accessible to Centro’s common center for bus lineups, the stand was moved first to the corner of Washington and Warren, then to Washington and Salina, with little publicity and insufficient signage.
They represented about 10 percent of their colleagues, according to John Perrigo, a veteran of the local taxi wars, a greater turnout than he had seen at meetings called in the past to form an association.
After a ramble of individual venting, Police Sgt. Long, with established tenure advocating cab driver needs to the Syracuse Department, counseled the group to band together and not go off on tangents. They chose three representatives to carry a list of clear… demands? Options? Grievances, they settled on, to the Common Council, where, according to Councilor Nader Maroun, who sat silent through the proceedings, they would definitely get a hearing.