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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Idling taxis equal parking woes

By Shant Shahrigian
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Livery drivers wait for customers on West 231st Street the night of Dec. 20.

For years, drivers wanting to grab a slice of pizza or make a quick ATM withdrawal on West 231st Street near the intersection with Broadway have contended with a line of livery cabs extending well beyond the street’s designated taxi stand and occupying metered spaces.

That has angered storeowners, who said they are losing business, and agitated the chauffeurs, who are reluctant to forfeit their place in line so they do not occupy public parking spaces.

“This is a public space,” Raphael Rodriguez, owner of Michael’s Jewelry, said of the spots in front of his store at 189-191 W. 231st St. “I need at least one space for my customers.”

While Mr. Rodriguez said most of his customers come to his store by public transportation or by foot, the receptionist for a dental office at the corner of West 231st Street and Broadway said customers regularly cancel appointments because they cannot find parking.

“I can’t recall one day where they didn’t complain about the parking situation,” Elaine Baredes said of clients who do make it to their appointments.

A sign on West 231st Street designates space for about four cars as a taxi stand, with several meters designating public spots on the rest of the block.

Both day and night, livery cabs take up the metered spots. A number of chauffeurs interviewed for this article said they try to move when an ordinary driver asks to park at one of the meters.

“We have to be understanding,” said Marvin, a livery cab driver who declined to give his last name. “This is a stressful city as is.”

The combination of chauffeurs hungry for clients and drivers anxious to find parking is a recipe for heated exchanges. One chauffeur complained that other drivers are frequently rude.

“People complain because nobody likes cab drivers,” said Raed Khalil.

A driver live parked on West 231st Street said interacting with the chauffeurs is often tense.

“Cab drivers […] are angry if you don’t move,” Ricardo Taveras said while his wife shopped at Payless. “They have to change because there’s no parking over here. This is a shopping area.”

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