City Desk

What’s Up With the Cabs Today?

I just got a tip that cabbies aren't picking people up this morning. And that there are very few cabs even on the street. One reader tells me that she looked for a cab for 15 minutes before giving up. Does it have to do with the lifting of the gas surcharge?

Are the cabbies on strike again?

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  • Arthur Delaney

    Obviously, without the surcharge, cabs can't afford gas.

    This comment is so Ernest.

  • Jason Cherkis

    I just talked to a cabbie. I said: "Are cabbies on strike?"

    He said: "I don't know."

    Then he thought a second. And offered that if cabbies were indeed striking, it must have something to do with the lifting of the gas surcharge.

  • Reid

    Along those lines, I really hope you guys write something about the embarrasment that is that task force report on cabbies.

  • Ernest

    Forget the cabbies. Now that the fuel costs eased, shouldn't they lift the recent increase in food prices just as well?? Yeah, the one we were told was due to the increase in the price of fuel? There must be an explanation.

    What were you mumbling about, Reid? What task force?

  • Jim

    I have never been a fan of gas surcharges for cabbies. Yes gas prices go up, but our salaries don't go up, so cabbie salaries shouldn't go up either. Consider it the cost of doing business and not yet another free government handout.

  • Iggy

    Re: Ernest

    There are a number of interrelated factors that are behind the spike in food prices. First, there is the relation of oil to grain prices. Record oil prices drive up transportation and processing costs for food production. Rises in the oil market also affect rises in other commodities markets, including grains and natural gas, from which the main component of agricultural fertilizer is extracted.

    The recent sharp increase in oil prices—now close to $110 a barrel—has been driven in large part by the movement of investors from the more volatile stocks into commodity futures and derivatives. This has created a huge jump in “artificial demand,” on top of the longer-term rise in demand from countries such as China and India.

    As first the housing market and then the credit sector collapsed, much of the speculation shifted away from those areas and into the energy and commodities markets because they are seen as “safe bets” in terms of demand. People must eat—and burn gas getting to work—no matter how prices rise.

    Second, this increasing demand for biofuels, particularly corn- and soy-based ethanol, has resulted in a major diversion of edible crops away from the human food system. It has also led to a diversion of acreage food production into biofuel crops production. Further, grains used for livestock and poultry feed has become more expensive, in turn pushing up the cost of beef, milk, cheese, eggs and other basic foods. Likewise, the cost of farmed seafood has increased by at least 10 percent in the US because of the cost of corn meal and mash.

    Third, economic growth in China, India and other countries has generated increased demand for more than oil. These demographic shifts have spurred demand for more meat and dairy products, as well as more processed foods which require staple grains, especially corn for the production of corn syrup.

    Fourth, primary growing regions in the US, Eastern Europe and Australia have all experienced multiple severe weather events associated with climate change over the past few years. In some areas, desertification of arable land and water shortages have devastated farmers and exposed populations to increasing food insecurity and dependence on international markets.

    Fifth, the dollar’s decline against currencies of many importing countries—many of which have imposed export restrictions—has stimulated a US exporting frenzy, depleting stockpiles and driving up futures stocks on basic grains.

    One would think oil being down from around $120 a barrel to $43 dollars a barrel (today's price) that food prices would drop, but there are several other factors as stated above. Move to Mexico and find a nice senorita. Cheap eats south of the border.