Thursday, July 17, 2008
Taxi rides to and from Washington Community School boosted my year-to-date travel costs, but the total is still below $50.
Plainfield has several taxi companies now and indeed may hitting the limit of one per 1,000 residents. I had hoped to do a freelance story on the taxi situation, but my ability to freelance has dwindled away. The expansion of the taxi industry in Plainfield and nearby towns is still a very interesting topic. Most of the new companies are Latino-owned and represent a large start-up investment. Besides the cost of vehicles themselves, there are fees for owning and driving taxis as well as insurance costs. Anyone who checks traffic can see the cabs in many colors, red for Liberty, white for Quick, blue for United, orange for Caribe and rather improbably, green for Yellow. Purple cabs from Dunellen and black ones from north Plainfield can also be seen around the city.
Certainly for those without cars, taxis are the way to go for medical appointments, employment, shopping and other necessary travel that may not be possible by bus or train. The taxi rides Tuesday were my first ever in Plainfield, except for one I took as part of a Courier News enterprise story on taxi fares many years ago.
On Tuesday night, the cabs arrived promptly both ways and the fare was $4 as established by city ordinance. I might have been able to wrangle a senior discount, but I haven't picked up the rate chart yet from City Hall.
The fees must be a welcome source of revenue for the city. After a strict taxi ordinance went into effect several years ago, the number of taxis dwindled. As I recall, there was a time when there were no taxi companies in Plainfield. The resurgence is impressive.
The new taxi drivers faced some of the dangers that the previous ones did, mainly being directed to out-of-the-way spots where they were beaten and robbed. The new owners formed a group and were able to get cameras installed after one driver was severely injured in an attack.
This is by no means a comprehensive report. A more journalistic effort will have to wait. But maybe now you know a little bit more about those busy taxis you see zipping around Plainfield.