Thursday, May 22, 2008

FUEL COSTS HITTING CAB DRIVERS HARD

NEW AMERICAN MEDIA It's been less than a year since Pakistan native Javed Khan began driving a taxi, but his enthusiasm for the job is already running out of gas. "It's not just me. Every cabbie is hurting because of the rising price of gas," Khan, 48, said as he pulled his yellow-and-green Crown Victoria sedan into a neighborhood ARCO station. "I thought this would be a good job for me, but I'm not so sure."

With the price of regular gasoline hitting a record $4 in the San Francisco Bay Area – possibly the highest in the nation – many cabbies say they are making half of what they made as recently as six months ago – about $200 a day. Their Crown Victoria sedans with their gas-guzzling eight-cylinder engines get no more than eight to 10 miles to a gallon. This means frequent trips to the gas station, where they watch in pain as the digit counters relentlessly spin. For non-independent cab drivers like Khan, who works for Yellow Cab Express, there is the additional monthly $350 or so in leasing costs. . .

"I've been here for two hours and no customer is coming," moaned 45-year-old Major Singh as he stood beside his taxi at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station, shooting the breeze with his fellow cabbies. . . Singh says it wasn't like this 20 years ago when, as a new immigrant, he began driving a cab so that he and his family could have a better life. A fill-up then cost him around $10. A fill-up today is around $65.

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