For today's installment of Ridiculous Cab Stories, we present the six "elite" cabbies who tool around in customized Lexuses. What makes this entry different from previous contenders like the $51,000 Mercedes-Benz cab and the luxury motorcycle taxi service is that the Lexuses (Lexi?) are already on the streets, being driven by a motley crew of cabbies who are all drawn to the cars for its aura of prestige. But how long will they last?
Lexus cabbie Neil Newmark says he "sort of feels like a celebrity" in his $40,000 Lexus, while Cliff Adler, another of the elite six, says he "does not let customers put their bags on [the] leather seats." All of the six are "fiercely protective" of their four-wheeled babies, and have formed a sort of luxury cab-driver old boy's club. They don't report any higher earnings than drivers with the standard Crown Victorias and Ford Escapes, but the cachet, they say, is worth it. “We talk about the cars and how people are impressed with us," says Lexus cab club member Ilya Atanelov, who notes that sometimes customers ask to take pictures with his car and that his kids love being dropped off at school in their dad's sweet ride.
But there are rumors that the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is looking to ban the Lexuses from the streets, supposedly because they're "too powerful," a claim the elite six are not happy with: “If I’m willing to spend the money on a Lexus, why won’t they let me?” Newmark asked.
The TLC has been pushing the promotion of their new "Taxis of Tomorrow," but no one's hailing them anyway, and besides, who wants to hit the streets in a bulky old Nissan?