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Yellow fever: Deploy yellow cabs and their plastic shields to protect drivers during the coronavirus emergency

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 4/6/2020 Daily News Editorial Board

There are 13,587 yellow taxis licensed in New York, but thousands have been garaged since Uber and Lyft flooded the streets. Thousands more than been sidelined during coronavirus, as passengers have disappeared and some drivers have chosen not to drive.

Research

Some of those unused yellow cabs should immediately be deployed by the city Taxi & Limousine Commission for both regular cabbies and Uber and Lyft drivers still out there working because they have a bulletproof, and virus-proof, plexiglass barrier between the driver and passengers. If one driver or passenger could be protected from the bug, it would be worth it.

Once, all yellows had shields, but in 2016 the anti-crime measure was relaxed, letting cabbies decide otherwise. Still, thousands of yellows have the see-through walls, and that includes all 3,016 Nissan NV200s, the boxy Taxi of Tomorrow. They also have anti-microbial fabric.

The task for the TLC: match those idled yellows with shields and active drivers, be they yellow, Uber or Lyft.

For drivers who rent, it’s simple enough to just plunk down payment for a shielded yellow instead. For those drivers who own their own cars and are making loan payments, it’s more complicated, but someone (the city? Uber? Lyft?) should either pick up the rental fee or cover the car payment during this public health emergency.

In 2018, then-TLC Chair Meera Joshi set a rule that lets a yellow vehicle be used for app car service. That regulation has never been used. This is the perfect time to start.

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