Wednesday, September 14, 2005


The UN General Assembly opened today, causing major gridlock on the east side, so I wasn't too upset when my second fare was to JFK. It did, however, screw up my entire night. It took an hour to get there, and then I sat in the taxi lot for another two hours. Still, the JFK Central Taxi Hold lot is a pretty awe-inspiring place. It's just one enormous lot, as opposed to Laguardia's separate little lots. At full capacity, it holds about 500 taxis. (Click here to see what it looks like from above when it's about half full. You might want to zoom in to view it better.)

To pass the time, drivers play backgammon and dominos, but mostly they just stand around and shoot the shit. They also buy food in this little building, which is a coffee shop.

And behind the coffee shop, when the weather is warm enough, they lay down mats and pray. In the winter, the praying takes place inside.

This fence is at the far end of the lot. The planes land practically next to us. I was standing here when a cab stopped on the other side on its way to a terminal. There's really no reason for a cab to stop here as it's a roadway and the drivers are usually speeding along it trying to get to the terminals as fast as they can. When I peeked inside this cab to see what was up, I saw the driver pointing his dick into a cup, peeing. Then he dumped the cup on the roadway and drove off.

This is what he left behind.


sara marcus said...

thanks for the link to the satellite image of the airport lot. that was awesome.

greg said...

can you explain how it makes financial sense to sit in the airport taxi waiting lots? It seems like you'd have to wait forever....but i'm sure that's not right or no one would bother to wait in the lot.

love the blog btw!

Johnie said...

I think it makes financial sense because it's a $45 fix fare from JFK to anywhere in Manhattan. Do a couple of those and you're set for the day. Also, I believe that if you get a short haul passenger [ie not into Manhattan], you can jump the line instead of waiting again.

But hey..I'm no cab maybe she will have a better answer.

M.P. said...

This is a complicated issue and most taxi drivers disagree about whether airports pay off or not. Sometimes it makes sense to wait at the airport, and sometimes it doesn't. It all depends on car traffic and air traffic. If you wait for under an hour at JFK, you're in decent shape financially, as long as traffic doesn't screw you up coming or going. Laguardia is different since it costs less on the meter from there to the city (as opposed to the $45 flat rate from JFK), but, because it is smaller, the wait there is usually shorter. Some drivers prefer the shorter wait, and some prefer their $45 flat rates. I guess it's just a matter of taste. (As a side note, the supposed reason the flat rate was instituted was because of what taxi drivers call "The Route." In order to pump up the metered fare, dishonest drivers used to pick up foreigners at JFK, drive up the Belt, across the Verrazano, through Staten Island into New Jersey, and then into Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge.)

And, Johnie is right, if we get a "shorty" (a short-haul passenger), the dispatcher gives us a ticket that allows us to get on the shorty line (a much shorter line) if we return to the airport within 90 minutes. I've found I prefer shorties from JFK, since they usually meter more. Laguardia, not so much.

There are also hotlines to call to find out the capacity of the taxi lots, but the recorded messages are not updated often enough. There have been too many times that I've called Laguardia, say, around 10:00 p.m. only to get a totally useless update from five hours earlier.

So, basically, the airports can be good to taxi drivers, or they can be very bad. I've heard horror stories of drivers getting stuck at JFK upwards of three hours. The most I've waited there was two hours. The shortest I've waited there was one minute.

Julie said...

Gurl, ur lucky he didn't see you while he was relieving himself...who know what type of guy he was if he knew someone was (not intentionally) watching this event. Great story though! Nice aerial shot!