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I’m a for-hire driver,
but you haven’t
heard from me
BY KIM JOHNSON
As a longtime New York City rideshare
driver, I hear a lot of well-intentioned people
in the press and on the steps of City Council
talk about my lack of opportunity. Th ey
point to what the loudest voices are saying —
those from Th e Independent Drivers Guild.
Policy decisions are draft ed, debated and
signed based on the loud but few, and across
the board, they paint driving with rideshare
companies as a losing proposition.
But what’s missing from this media
hooplah is my actual voice. And a lot of
the regulation could actually hurt my bottom
So here’s my story. I hope it will convince
readers to listen not just to the loudest voices
on TV, not just to the well-meaning echo
chamber, but directly to the people that local
I live in Queens, about 10 minutes away
from JFK. I’ve driven with Lyft and Juno for
over two years, at various hours throughout
the day. I am saving up my earnings to open
a daycare for children in my community.
Ride-sharing gives me the fl exibility a traditional
9-to-5 can’t. It allows me to create my
own schedule, which means I have time to
run errands and take care of my loved ones
whenever I need.
In addition to boosting my income, I fi nd
driving with Lyft and Juno really enjoyable. I
love meeting new people and helping make
their daily travel easier. I sometimes feel like
a therapist. Recently, aft er fi nishing a ride,
my rider gave me a hug and thanked me for
listening and giving him advice. New York is
my hometown, but I am still discovering new
places and areas as a driver.
Unfortunately, for all the freedom I enjoy
driving, I feel like the TLC doesn’t have my
back and my voice isn’t coming through.
New policies are giving an edge to the
biggest company — forcing passengers to
choose the biggest companies because they
can reduce their passenger prices most. I’ve
chosen to drive with two of the smaller players
because I like them best. I deserve to still
have this option.
To hear it on TV, it’s the companies versus
the driver’s union in a David-v-Goliath fi ght.
It’s more like big companies versus smaller
companies, and drivers like me are stuck
in the middle.
I stand with the industry, our elected offi -
cials, the IDG and a majority of New Yorkers
in supporting the goal to increase driver
earnings; I know how much we need this
But we need to be smart about how our
policies actually impact drivers. We can’t
just listen to the loudest voices as we create
policies that will impact thousands of New
Ridesharing gives people like me a fl exible
opportunity to earn an income and connect
with people from all over the world. I
am hopeful that the TLC will fi nd a way that
allows drivers to earn a livable wage and still
have the freedom and fl exibility we love.
THIS MEANS WAR!
Th ere is now a war on pedestrians, as
well as a war on cars and cab drivers,
with the increased fees taken from the
middle class of new york city via using
cars as transportation in the form of a
deceiving “congestion tax.”
Th e amount of land remains the same,
yet the population continues to grow,
so why shrink the street by adding bike
lanes when there are so many more
walkers and drivers than bikers?
Th e additional volume of people naturally
increases historically year over
year, so therefore the amount of land to
walk and drive in should proportionally
go up not down.
By putting in bike lanes up and down
main and main avenues, and bikes on
streets where they park them shrinks the
streets and makes the streets more congested
and more dangerous.
Th ere are more cars and vehicles and
people than bikes, and now because the
streets are more congested the pollution
is going through the roof.
As a New Yorker of 40 years who
walks, drives, and bikes, I have found
it more dangerous than ever on the
Someone could sue the city and state
if the were inclined to do so, as these
politicians keep hurting the working
people of nyc, but should be going aft er
billionaires who don’t live here and buy
plenty of real estate.
Th ere are no bikers when its super
hot, or winter time, or rain, snow, etc.
– but the cars come in every day and
are crushed together now with concrete
barriers being put down on the streets.
Bike lights that hold cars from making
turns as they have historically been able
to without a light.
Th e city has become more dangerous
and polluted now more than ever with
the changes that have been made, and
if the bike lanes were simply removed
there would not be the same congestion
that the shrinkage of streets has caused
nyc to be dangerous and expensive.
Uber and Lyft now have tens of thousands
of drivers, and we shrunk the
lanes, so now instead of opening the
streets back up – it appears “congestion
pricing” will be the excuse to take more
money, and the mta has not proved
themselves to be able to manage that
money – so it just leaves a bad taste.
Charging the same people more
money via “congestion taxes” is just
sticking it to middle class New Yorkers
who already struggle to live in new york
We need a superhero politician who
actually really cares about the people to
come save the day.
QNS member Michael Schwartz
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