Recently, New York authorities authorized the sale of 300 new taxicab medallions, but Novoye Russkoye Slovo said on Monday that local Russians will not be racing to buy them.
In fact, Petr Nemirovskiy's Izchezajut “russkyie” taksi (“Russian” taxis are disappearing) states that the number of Russian cab drivers has dropped sharply in recent years.
At one point, according to NRS, nearly one-third of all cab drivers in New York were Russian-speaking, if not Russian. Today, many have left the profession seeking better money. The average wage for a cab driver according to NRS is $100-120 per shift, not enough any more to keep Russians behind the wheel. Add to that the ever-increasing danger of driving a cab and the rough working conditions, and it’s easy to see why few would want to do this if they didn’t have to.
Another reason for the drop is the rise in car services. NRS says that of the nearly 500 car services in Brooklyn, more than one-third are Russian-owned and/or operated.
The life of Russian cab drivers was chronicled by Soviet Jewish émigré author Vladimir Lobas in his 1991 memoir Taxi From Hell: Confessions of a Russian Hack (the entire text of the book is available in Russian at http://lib.ru/NEWPROZA/LOBAS/taxisty.txt).
(Photo: Novoye Russkoye Slovo)