Cab Driver Unrest Days in Dallas Over Special Privileges for Natural Gas Cabs
Guest post by Maria Rainier
Last March the elected official of Dallas passed an ordinance that gave natural gas CNG cabs at Dallas Love Field Airport line-jumping privileges over regular emission cabs. And what started as a New Year’s Eve protest by many angry taxi drivers in Dallas has turned into a battle that may lasted at least through Super Bowl weekend.
Shortly after Christmas, taxi drivers all over Dallas planned a protest for New Year’s Eve, which left about 50 cabs parked in the taxi lane at Love Field Airport and leading to the arrests of eight taxi drivers for obstructing a roadway. Wrecking vehicles had to be called in to move the cabs and the entrance to the airport was shut down briefly.
There is a total of 87 known natural gas or low emission CNG cabs in Dallas; they have all been given the front-of-the-line privilege with last year’s city ordinance to Dallas Love Field Airport and over 200 other cab drivers are enraged, feeling that they are at a disadvantage to other cab drivers because of the new ordinance.
The city’s argument: they are trying to cut down on pollution and gas emissions and with more economically friendly taxis available, they felt this was a good start. According to a story covered by NPR, “Dallas Policy May Drive Some Taxis Off The Road,” out of the average 3,000 drivers in the area, 10 to 20 percent of them are taxi drivers.
The Love Field taxis argument: the city ordinance makes it so that low emission CNG vehicles have complete seniority over the taxi lane at the airport. Regular emission cars have to watch the fuel-friendly taxis drive past as they wait for clearance into the airport’s taxi lane.
One of NPR’s sources said, “At least make it fair…Not just have 80 cars and say, ‘OK there’s 80 special drivers, you get to go first all of the time.”
The other cabbies argument is valid too: the pay more to lease CNG cars and up to $15,000 to change their cabs from regular to low emission so they feel that since they are doing more for the economy and pay for it, they should have the line-jumping privilege.
The Super Bowl earlier this month gave angry cab drivers the opportunity to use the publicity and tourism level to their advantage. Since New Year’s Eve, they have staged several blockades and airport protests, making city officials upset and fueling the cab driver’s enragement.
The city says they are simply abiding by the Clean Air Act, regular emission cabbies feel that the ordinance is unfair and environmentally-friendly cabbies think that they deserve the privilege for transitioning to energy-saving taxis.
Is it fair? Not really. Is it environmentally fair? Absolutely! We all need to start being environmentally conscious and stop making excuses, with or without the financial backbone. If anything, it’s always a tax credit.
What are your thoughts and what would you do if this was your situation?
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, where she's been performing gender wage gap research as related to the highest paying college degrees. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
Image credit: NGVs Now, courtesy Flickr