Sunday, November 15, 2009

Special Outbound Midtown Tunnel Entrance Today Plus 7th Avenue headache @24th Street

The tunnel entrance outbound is being re-routed until 5:30AM Monday (NO TRUCKS)

7th Avenue crane operations at 24th Street are in effect until noon

These closures have been actually witnessed by both me and Gil. I apologize for the long list of closures posted yesterday that were completely erroneous for Saturday.

THE MIDTOWN TUNNEL ENTRANCE TODAY is located at 34th Street between 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue. You can also enter from 35th street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.

The detour signs challenge our logic and are very hard to understand. There will be heavy traffic congestion at 2nd Avenue almost certainly, but also traffic will build probably at 34th street, 36th street and a bulge of traffic nesting on the right side of 3rd Avenue may soon appear.

DO NOT TAKE 36TH STREET TO THE TUNNEL! Take only 34th Street!

As traffic builds, think of other routes, all other bridges, the 59th street bridge may have heavier back-up as spill over from the tunnel occurs.

Also 7th Avenue between 24th and 23rd Street is having a crane operation bringing the lanes down to two.

As usual try to avoid crosstown in the 30's. Drivers will be confused and angry. The Midtown tunnel is also limited to one lane in each direction.

Friday, November 13, 2009

This Weekend

From Gridlock Sam:

Two Manhattan-bound lanes on the lower level of the Henry Hudson Bridge will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

1 a.m. to 8 a.m. Sat. and Sun. Holland closed NYC bound, Lincoln only 1 lane NYC bound

And From the DOT Website. There are more streets closed noted at their website, but these appear to be the most important:

On Saturday and/or Sunday from midnight to noon: 7th Avenue will reduce to two lanes between 24th and 23rd streets for crane operation. During lifting only one lane of traffic will pass through.

From Saturday at 10pm to 10am on Sunday: Park Avenue Southbound between 47th Street and 46th Street will be closed southbound for crane operation.

On Saturday and/or Sunday from 8am to 4pm: Greene Street between Canal Street and Grand Street will be closed to facilitate crane operation.

On Saturday and/or Sunday from 6am to 6pm: 36th Street between 9th Avenue and 8th Avenue will be closed to facilitate crane operation.

From Saturday at 6am to Sunday at 9pm: 51st Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue will be closed to facilitate crane removal operation.

On Saturday from 8am to 4pm: 53rd Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue will be closed to facilitate crane removal operation.

And on Saturday and/or Sunday from 8am to 4pm: 53rd Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue will be closed to facilitate crane operation.

On Sunday early morning from midnight to 8am: 59th Street between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue will be closed Sunday to facilitate crane operation.

Also from 1am Sunday to 5:30am Monday, The Queens Midtown Tunnel will be only one lane in each direction.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Madison Square Garden

stop ONLY if you're right up against a curb when picking up or dropping off in the vicinity of MSG. That goes for both sides of 7 Av. between 34th and 31st. The cops there resemble Venus Flytraps. They blend in with the pedestrians on the sidewalk and then step right out unto the street with their hairy tentacles. Be especially careful not to copy what so many cabbies do and double park alongside the permanent cones of the taxi stand in front of the underground entrance to Penn Station.

From 7 Av: Drive all the way past the taxi stand on the right and then pull neatly into an available part of the curb before reaching 31st. There is always room there. And folks will often jump in your cab as soon as your door opens to let one out. To my knowledge this turn over is 100% legal.

From 6 Av: Turn left at the 33rd Street bay. Go straight past 7 Av and stop on the left hand side, just past the corner, but be ready to move if an extra-large bus is turning off 7 Av. This spot is best for riders of LIRR. And if your fare is trying to catch an Amtrak, just continue straight down until just before 8 Av and pull over on the left. Let them know the entrance on that corner is ideal for them. Again, you'll often get new fares on the spot. Just don't linger for one, because you're technically too close to an established taxi stand and if the authorities don't see that you just discarded a fare, they might write you up for some sort of illegal solicitation.

From 8 Av:
Do not copy other taxis by adding to the massive dog pile at the northeast corner of 31st. Simply pull to the curb before crossing that intersection. Especially if you ease into an empty space just as the light turns red. That southeast corner is always free.

From 31st St: Easy! Just find enough space to pull over without double parking. I believe the entrance right in the middle of the block is ideal for users of NJ Transit. For Amtrak just pull forward until right before 8 Av. Just don't get in the way of the buses. For LIRR it's best closer to 7 Av. But the covered walkway midblock is quite a central entrance that serves all commuters well. The nice part about dropping off crosstown, whether it's 31st or 33rd, is that you can zoom forward and head downtown again without getting stuck while vacant.

From 34th: It's OK to pick up/ drop off from the bus lanes. Just make it snappy. And remember not to make illegal turns unto 7 Av or from 7 Av unto 34th. The main LIRR entrance is on that southwest corner. If you must head downtown from that section of 34th, you have to either go to 9 Av or 5 Av. If you must head uptown, you have to either turn at 8 Av or turn right at Park, another immediate right unto 33rd, and one last right unto Madison. Be very careful attempting U turns. I only do them if I can guarantee not to get in anyone's way and there must be no blue meanies on wheels visible from any mirror or window in the cab.

Sidenotes: It's common to get hailed from the bus stop area on the right side of 7 Av between 34 and 33rd. You must be very careful when stopping here. Be sure to clear the crosswalks, while remaining as far from the actual bus stop sign as possible. Absolutely no double parking here. If you do anything that clogs up any segment of traffic, the Venus Flytraps will no doubt capture you in the blink of an eye.

Also, be careful in front of the hotels on the left side of 7 Av. You can coast by nonchalantly with fingers crossed to hear the doorman's whistle blow, but otherwise do not stop unless you can pull all the way to the curb and you have a good reason for it (an immediate drop off/pick up).

Cops have been known to give multiple tickets on one stop in these areas. Don't ruin your day. If you can't play by the strict and ambiguous rules, just avoid Penn all together. It's not a necessary ingredient for a lucrative shift.

Where else than the good old southeast corner of Central Park West and the 65th St. Traverse. He's got nothing but a red reading light on inside, giving him a somewhat demonic look. He's waiting for you to come straight out of Central Park using the turning lanes, but failing to turn.

Recently, I was dropping of a passenger on Lexington and 42nd. As always, I asked him if he preferred the right or left side of the Avenue. His response was that the last taxi he took to that same destination received a ticket on behalf of the ubiquitous meter maids who happened to be enforcing the signs all along the right side of Lexington in the low 40s and high 30s that say....


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gridlock Sam is now on Twitter

For any cabbies who have twitter on their phones, this'll probably be of some assistance:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

foreshadowing the future

Well Bloomberg has just won the race for mayor. He won by 50,000 votes. There are 40,000 cabbies in New York City, and many more FHV drivers. Imagine if we all voted, we wouldn't be persecuted by the mayor anymore. Water under the bridge now as we have 4 more years of rule by the richest man in New York.

This Weekend:
The Holland Tunnel will be open all weekend, no construction.

And in the future:
The Verifone GPS units have a new feature for group rides. This seems ultra scary to me, the technology is now in place for an entirely new way of taxi driving which hasn't even been approved yet. I do not want to have to be a mediator between strangers every time I pick up. And with one cab picking up a bunch of people, won't it be a case of more fares for less cabs, making some cabbies profits soar and others completely fruitless. And what will the policy be when a group of 4 people who know each other requests multiple stops, how does one tell strangers apart from friends? This feature shouldn't be used yet, as it isn't approved, but just the fact that it is there, is threatening enough.

The Present:
And that damn 50 cent extra on every NYC fare, has already maybe cost me a few extra bucks, in all fairness it won't really be much of a problem, but it's just one more number you have to deduct from your total at the end of the day. Is it just me or is the GPS getting more glitchy lately, the approval of credit cards is slower than usual, and more often it doesn't go through. The way to handle this is to:
  1. Park the car,
  2. shut off the engine,
  3. open the hood
  4. hit a silver reset button on the battery, and/or disconnect a fuse that is right above the battery
  5. then after 5 minutes, put the fuse back in
  6. Start the car up again
  7. and wait for the system to reboot
  8. log in to the system, hopefully everything will work.
Yes that will waste a good chunk of your time, and won't necessarily work, as sometimes it is a company wide glitch and all the taxi meters won't be working correctly at a specific time. Still the meters will accept the credit cards although they will be pending approval. If they get denied several hours later, you can complain to your garage, or your taxi meter shop, or to the company I suppose, and you should get your money from the transaction, as it's not your fault that the meter wasn't working correctly.

The one positive addition:
The one beneficial new feature on the Verifone, is a button to void the last transaction. Before the MTA surcharge, there was a button to void the last credit card transaction in the event that someone paid for the ride via credit card, and then changed their mind and wanted to pay in cash. Now that we have to pay 50 cents for every ride, if a person hops into a cab, and then decides to hop out, we can click the new void last ride button, and not have to pay an extra 50 cents for a ride that never took place. It used to be that when a fare would pay me less than the actual fare, I had to hit the payment refusal button, because I didn't want the IRS to miscalculate my earnings at the end of the year, but if you hit the payment refusal button it automatically assumes that you went to hunt down your fare beating customer and it signs you off the system. I'd then have to quickly sign back in to the GPS before my next customer to avoid having the meter lock.