The Taxi and Limousine Commission says two pilot programs encouraging New Yorkers to share the back seats of cabs with perfect strangers would free up more cabs, reduce traffic congestion, and cut carbon emissions. Before voting to approve the experiment yesterday, TLC official David Kahr said another bonus is that "you'll save a little money, and maybe you'll meet someone new who's interesting." That's right, ladies! TAXI! Oh hello there, do you come to this back seat often? You know, we have so much in common, living in the same neighborhood and all. Say, why don't we drop you off next? Ladies first—it'll be fun to finally see where you live, anyway.
Such is the creepy scenario dreaded by some New York women like Christine DeCarlo, who tells CBS2, "It can be scary. During the middle of the day, you never know who will be out there. Once it catches on people may think of it as a good way to hit on women." According to the TLC, riders who choose to try one of the new multi-meter cabs—up to 1,000 are expected to debut by the end of the year—are essentially consenting to sharing their taxi, no matter what unctuous, overbearing freak hails it along the way. (It's illegal for an on-duty hack to refuse a passenger based on his appearance or destination.)
The same rule of randomness will apply to whichever charmer gets in a cab with you at Manhattan's six rush-hour taxi stands, which will send riders along certain routes in Midtown for a flat $3 or $4 fee. That's why Sonia Ossorio of the National Organization for Women is warning women: "Err on the side of caution. If there is someone they are uncomfortable entering the car at the same time as them, go ahead and get off. It could mean your health, your life." But given the recent behavior of some cabbies, isn't it better to have a witness? And a similar shared-ride policy has been working in Chicago for years; a spokesman for the city tells the Daily News, "It does save the passengers money. And it does benefit the drivers. It's win-win."