Janet Lee

Janet Lee

Friday, October 10, 2014

1984 NY Times newspaper article

This 1984 NY Times newspaper article waxes nostalgic about the old Checker taxis. the article below, published online in 2005, gave a hint about what would become "The Taxi of Tomorrow" project currently underway.
It is interesting, I have been challenging the NYCT&LC assertion/lie that the partition mandate was first implemented in 1995. It has been in effect since 1969. This 1985 article is proof that partitions predate the asserted 1996 start date.
The reason the NYCT&LC lies about the start date is because in the mid 1990's many things changed in NYC dealing with quality of life issues. Partitions were not new then.
The writer says; "You give no thought to the chasm between you and the Checker's signature "Life-Guard" metal and plexiglass partition."
The partition is the reason Checker is out of business. A "Lifeguard" partition , as produced and installed was bound to fail. It did. ALWAYS. No lives were saved. Checker, as a car manufacturer, failed shortly after introducing the "Lifeguard" partition.
The partition is the reason people in the rear seats have been killed and brain damaged in front end collisions.
The partition is the reason people in the front have been killed and brain damaged in rear end collisions.
The partition is the reason there is no leg room in the back seat.
The partition is the reason most robberies are done with a gun now.
The partition is the reason knives are much less viable.
The partition is the reason drivers are told they are 'protected', and therefor have no need to excercise any discretionary latitude about whom they convey.
The partition is the reason drivers are told they have no need for a gun nor should they have any right to have a gun in the taxi.

Many cities that have implemented partition requirements, have since, abandoned them. Not Boston, NYC or Philadelphia, though.

NYC is convinced that they need one iconic vehicle as their only permitted model. Judges have repeatedly denied TLC claims and initiatives.

By Steve Crowell
and now
By TED WEST
Published: December 18, 2005
NEW YORK, Dec. 18, 1984 - You're late. The Checker cab you hail lurches to the curb, brakes squealing like a throttled pullet. You reach for the trademark stripe of black-and-white checkers on its yellow doors and climb in. Slamming the door shut makes a bucket-of-bolts clatter that goes on like an echo in a box canyon. The back seat is way back there, a short stroll from the door. You pass the two "jump seats," folded into the floor. They look ravaged, though rarely have you seen them used.
Enlarge This Image
Bob Brunner/Pentagram Design
BLACK AND WHITE AND RODE ALL OVER A Checker-like design in a 2005 show at the Parsons school.
Maybe it was a 60's thing.
You slump down on the broad, featureless back seat and worry. (You're still late.) You give no thought to the chasm between you and the Checker's signature "Life-Guard" metal and plexiglass partition. It's there for the driver's protection, not yours. And no recorded message from Al Jolson implores you to fasten your seat belt. What seat belt? In a violent stop, you'll reach peak velocity just as you meet the "Life-Guard" partition, teeth first.
And yet, and yet. ... For nearly 50 years, since 1956, the Checker Marathon cab has been a New York emblem. It hasn't rumbled down the city's streets for years, yet its hallmark checker motif still looms large at an exhibition on the New York cab of the future, being held through Jan. 15 at Parsons the New School of Design.
Why such staying power in New York memories? The Checker cab was as New York as Fiorello La Guardia's grin. Sure, there were a few Checkers plying the streets of Chicago and other cities aspiring to greatness - but who asked? Before the Checker, various humdrum 50's family sedans - Chevrolet Delrays, Plymouth Savoys and such - were auditioned, but they were no match for Manhattan's rugged realities. New York demanded a taxi that was nothing but a taxi, a taxi built like a Walker Bulldog medium tank. The Checker made its debut, and it was love at first bounce.
As if to underscore its unique suitability, the Checker looked like no other vehicle, and Detroit's automakers worked hard to keep it that way. It had four headlamps and a big, gaping chrome grille like a frozen automotive rendering of "The Scream." It functioned differently, too, sending a simple message: "I carry five fares - no other cab can. Period." If you numbered fewer than five (and you did), a Checker offered vast room to rattle around in, its suspension banging and slamming, taking note of every pavement paint stripe, pebble and pothole along the way.
To gentle souls from Topeka, this all sounds awful. Yet I, like many New Yorkers, would give anything for one more full-throttle Checker cab ramble up Madison Avenue, clattering around the back like a ball bearing in a blender.
That's impossible, of course. Six years ago today, on Dec. 18, 1999, the last Checker to give a rider a Manhattan tumble was sold in an auction at Sotheby's. That final Checker cab, owned by Earl Johnson since 1978, had logged 994,050 New York miles, about 40 times around the world. The cab was auctioned for $134,500. Mr. Johnson, who remembered paying $9,000 for it new, retired to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Depending on the state of New York City's finances, the fate of a taxicab here could be cruel. In the near-bankrupt 70's, a drive down pockmarked Second Avenue was like driving down the Grand Canyon. By comparison, today's playing surface is bowling-alley smooth. Nonetheless, since 1956, feast or famine, the beloved Checker cab had taken every blow New York dealt - and delivered it straight to the consumer.
It took a very special vehicle to approach one million New York miles. That gritty vehicle arose from decades of trial, error and worse. The man most responsible was a Russian immigrant, Morris Markin, of Smolensk. He arrived in the United States in 1913 with $2 in his pocket. The urban taxicab business was in its infancy when Mr. Markin settled in Chicago. By 1922, somewhat miraculously, he owned the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company. Taxi wars eliminated company after company, and when the dust settled, Checker emerged with only one major competitor, Yellow Cab of Chicago, owned by John Hertz. Yes, that Hertz.
In 1923, Mr. Markin moved Checker taxi construction to Kalamazoo, Mich. At the time, 600 Checkers were on New York streets. In 1930, Checker introduced its eye-catching Series "M" cab, boasting flashy flared fenders, a high, narrow grille, rectangular headlights, wheel covers that were smooth cones - and rear seat cushions filled with down!
Each time a fare got out, the driver reached back with a special paddle to fluff up the down for arriving nobility.
During the Depression, Mr. Markin lost, then regained control of Checker. Business improved gradually. By the late 30's, 18,000 Checkers were plying the nation's biggest cities. Along the way, Mr. Markin brought all nine of his brothers and sisters from Russia to America.
During World War II, Checker patriotically and profitably built trailers and troop-truck cabs for Ford.
But on Jan. 26, 1956, New York met the first Checker "A8," the taxi we all loved. At 200 inches long, it was more compact than the 224-inch cabs in use, yet it was vastly more spacious. Checker production hovered at 4,500 to 6,500 cars a year through the 60's and 70's. Various engines by Continental, Chevrolet and Chrysler were used. The general public could buy its own version of the Checker, called the Superba, which in 1961 was renamed the Marathon. In 1963, ambitious Checker announced a luxury Town Custom Limousine, with all power accessories and a partitioned driver compartment. Never hurts to try.
Still, the rugged-riding Checker compared poorly with softer passenger cars. New Yorkers knew it had only one role, as the best taxicab in the world.
Things went swimmingly until the 70's. Very suddenly, serious gas crises made smaller cars with more economical engines attractive, especially if a threatened gas-guzzler tax took effect. And the Checker's toughness had always made it more expensive than other taxis. The graffiti was on the wall. The end was nigh.
The last Checker was built on July 13, 1982. By 1993, only 10 New York Checkers remained. And in these waning years, if you saw a Checker with its hood up - you might - you'd see a length of chain holding the front fenders together. After several hundred thousand miles, Checkers went a bit bow-legged.
It was the end of an era. Gone was the practice of wearing your hat in a cab. (What's a hat?) Bid farewell to the five-on-a-fare undergrad rides to the Village. Say goodbye to taxicabs with room for strollers in back and taxicabs with kids fighting to sit on the jump seats. The Checker dwindled. Dwindled. And then there were none.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Law requires partition makers to certify partition compliance, but NYC requires the car maker to test the partition!!

This is strange...

In June 2013, several medical professionals testified at a TLC hearing in favor of crash testing a taxicab vehicle with the partition installed. 

Dr. John Sherman, M.D., F.A.C.S. testified that the taxi partition has accounted for hundreds of injuries to passengers throughout the years.

Similarly, other physicians who have treated passengers in taxicab accidents noted that many of
the injuries they see are a result of the partition. 

Dr. Charles DiMaggio, PhD specifically
explained that safety testing with the partition installed would decrease the risk of passenger
head and face injuries because such testing would ensure that partitions are designed so that they
do not interfere with airbag deployment.

To minimize injury to taxi passengers and drivers resulting from partitions when a vehicle is
involved in an accident, the proposed rules require that the vehicles described below be crash tested... by auto manufacturers... with the TLC authorized partition installed.

Please sign this petition

Please sign this petition
it links to a "change.org" web site urging enforcement of existing federal safety standards for automobile partitions.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The solution to the partition injury problem is to get the partitions out of the cabs.

"Injuries involved in the partitions in taxis are easily avoidable by simply buckling up. I don't wish it upon anybody, but when your taxi driver must come to a short stop, the partition of a Nissan MV 200 is going to hurt just as much if you're not wearing your seat belt."

David Yasskey NYC TLC

They are not easily avoided by front seat occupants, even with a seat belt buckled. The solution to the partition injury problem is to get the illegal partition hazards out of the cabs. There are two ways to do that. Remove the partitions completely, or use only certified federally compliant partitions. Until the NYC TLC stipulates federal compliance in the partition designs that they require, inspect and approve... losses can be attributable to the NYC TLC.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Automakers and the TLC parry about partitions and injuries, but never question partition makers.

MTBOT
On August 29, 2008, Richard D. Emery, an attorney for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, wrote to automakers including Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Honda, General Motors and Volkswagen requesting that they certify that their hybrids or alternative fuel vehicles are manufacturer-approved to be used as taxicabs and safe when modified with partitions and other TLC requirements.

HONDA
In a September 19th 2008 response to Mr. Emery, a spokesman for Honda said “Honda vehicles are not sold or recommended for use as taxicabs.” 
However, in a July 16, 2008 industry notice informing taxi owners which vehicles they can purchase for taxi use, the TLC lists the Honda Civic [tag]Hybrid[/tag] as one of nine approved vehicles for taxi use.

TOYOTA
Another automaker, Toyota, the largest manufacturer of hybrids in the world, has not responded to Mr. Emery. 

However, a Toyota spokesman told the [tag]New York Times[/tag] on April 27, 2008, that “our engineers are nervous about it because they were not designed for commercial use.” 

According to the article, “Toyota did not help convert cars into taxis because they were not intended to be driven so heavily.” Still, in the July 16, 2008 TLC industry notice, the TLC lists 3 Toyotas, the Prius, Highlander and Camry on its approved vehicle list — 1/3 of all approved vehicles. Several Toyotas remain in service as New York City [tag]taxicabs[/tag].
NISSAN
Nissan, which claims to be committing up to 200 Altima Hybrid taxicabs per month, refers Mr. Emery to a July 23, 2008 TLC letter that claims the partitions do not hinder side curtain airbag deployment. 

Nissan offers no crash test results on Altimas that are modified with partitions and concludes its response by stating: “If you have an underlying concern with the mandate to use fuel efficient vehicles, this situation is a result of New York policies, not Nissan’s actions.”
FORD
At a September 10th 2008 [tag]New York City Council[/tag] hearing, [tag]Ford Motor Company[/tag] acknowledged that “there is an increased risk for belted occupants to contact the partition in a collision” for “any vehicle with a smaller occupant space than the stretch Crown Victoria” noting that it is “not unique to the Escape Hybrid” which indeed has much smaller occupant space than a stretch Crown Victoria.

Ford seems to be under the mistaken notion that a passengers' proximity, be it one foot... or three feet, to the partition, will somehow change the 30 mph passenger impact with the partition. 


Ford refused to certify the crashworthiness of Escape Hybrid taxicabs outfitted with partitions, instead shifting responsibility to the TLC which it says “has an important job in making judgments that balance competing benefits and risks involving driver and customer safety in a unique operating environment.”

GENERAL MOTORS
General Motors also refused to certify the crashworthiness of its Chevy Malibu Hybrid taxicab when modified with a partition or other TLC requirements. In a letter to Mr. Emery dated September 25th, 2008, GM wrote “your client’s concerns about the taxicab partitions required by the TLC should be addressed to the TLC.” GM was silent about the Saturn Vue Hybrid, which also appears on the TLC’s approved vehicle list.
VOLKSWAGON
Volkswagen, which produces a clean diesel Jetta that appears on the TLC approved list, was also asked to certify the safety, suitability and crashworthiness of its TLC-approved hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles when modified with partitions and placed into service as taxicabs but, to date, has not responded.
THE NYC TLC
The TLC has confirmed that it does not crash test hybrid taxicabs modified with partitions and says it relies, in large part, on federal testing to assert the safety of hybrid taxicabs. However, it has also been established that there are no federal crash tests for hybrid taxicabs modified with partitions — nor are there front or rear crash tests in unmodified hybrids for adult rear occupants, which comprise the majority of taxi passengers.

C.BRUCE GAMBARDELLA
Hybrid automakers explicitly warn against any modifications to hybrid vehicles in the owner manuals. And indeed, according to automotive engineer C. Bruce Gambardella, partitions in hybrids are a “crude modification” that “changes the entire interior environment and takes us back about a half a century in automotive safety.”
http://www.yellowcabnyctaxi.com/nyc-taxi/toyota-honda-warn-hybrid-taxis


STEVE CROWELL

Indeed, according to the federal law, the partition manufacturer must comply and certify compliance. 


Richard D. Emery, Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Honda, General Motors and Volkswagen and the NYC TLC all seem to be ignorant of this basic fact;

The USDOT may, after receiving complaints, ORDER crash testing to be done. Of course, after exposing millions of passengers to severe risks of head injury and or death, with disastrous results, any federally mandated crash testing would be redundant. We have plenty of data using real human victims. Just ask Dr. Sherman or Dr. Goldfrank.

Ford says the NYC TLC “has an important job in making judgments that balance competing benefits and risks involving driver and customer safety in a unique operating environment.”

Ford seems to be apologizing for the TLC's violations of federal safety laws..

The USDOT... HAS received numerous complaints. Copies of their recent dismissals are posted on this blog. 

Also available since 5/6/13 on this blog, are copies of the earlier 'letters of warning' and a copy of a later three page legal interpretation of the applicability of the USDOT Law to partition performance in taxis and police cruisers, written by the Chief Counsel for the USDOT

I have invited Dr. Goldfrank and Dr. Sherman, the MTBOT, the NYC TLC and Nissan to review these official letters and have never received any feedback from any of these parties about them.

Isn't it strange the TLC approves dangerous partitions for HP and Hybrid taxis?

 Any taxi with the partition that has been required, inspected and approved by the TLC for 40+ years, such as the type still allowed for hybrids or HP's, is subjecting the occupants to serious injury from partition window edges. A major advance in taxi partition design was the elimination of the hazardous window edges. This feature first appeared in my design 34 years ago. The "no wondow" partition is a primary difference between the design and what has always been historically, required, inspected and approved, (until recently). The new partition design which is touted to be safer, now that crash test dummies have been used, has no window, as per my strongly worded advice to Nissan. Old formerly approved partitions with windows are now deemed to be unsafe for all... except HP and Hybrid taxis. HP and Hybrid taxi may continue to use the design with the window edges. This scenario ignores the crash testing that has been done with real people for over 40 years in NYC taxis. Considering that the CDC in Atlanta recently declared that partitioned taxis had no fewer murders than those without partitions, wouldn't it be smart to eliminate the partition requirement? Let those who use - decide.

Read more: http://wot.motortrend.com/automakers-respond-to-concerns-over-hybrid-taxi-safety-2293.html#ixzz37dfD4l7q

Friday, May 30, 2014

More guns, less crime?

For many years the news media and the police in New Orleans made a fatal mistake. That is, until 1997. Boston, New York and many other cities still have it wrong and more people die from being shot, because of this policy error.

In 1997 - the New Orleans Times Picayune changed their editorial policy from the usual story; "Witless, vulnerable dupe of a cab driver - easily slain in a remote area, by a lone gunman, who used the taxi for his get-away. Police have few leads" This actually inspires more aggression against the apparently unarmed cab driver.

When it becomes less apparent that the driver is unarmed, crime goes down.

The Times Picayune newspaper published an editorial that called partitions ineffective but also said they probably should be required for taxis. I called the writer of the editorial and suggested that portraying cab drivers as vulnerable... is risky, for cab drivers.

The standard operating procedure, as advised by the police authorities, is, for the driver to yield to aggressors and surrender anything demanded by the assailant.

I suggested that the Times Picayune newspaper start describing New Orleans cab drivers as deadly, when faced with a deadly threat. I suggested they run with the angle that it is dangerous to try to rob a New Orleans cab driver, not easy. After all, it is true, that many New Orleans cab drivers DO carry firearms.

That conversation took place in 1997. From 1994 to 1997 - 13 cab drivers were shot dead. After the change in the editorial policy took place in 1997, the murder rate went to zero for over ten years. This happened in the deadliest city, in the deadliest occupation. Had the usual editorial policy remained in place, as many as 30 cab drivers might have been shot dead in those ten years.