Striking Cabbies Leave Taxis Parked in the Road to Shut Down Traffic into Love Field. Says Mayor: Protest Is "Slap in the Face" to City.

LoveField_cabbietowing.jpg
Patrick Michels
A tow truck operator loads one of seven stranded cabs hauled away from Love Field earlier tonight.
When a crowd of independent cabbies kicked off their Super Bowl week boycott last week -- upset by the city's preferential treatment for CNG-powered cabs and frustrated their past strikes hadn't accomplished much -- some drivers talked about simply hanging up their keys for the week and seeing how the city liked it. But others were more amped up, talking about fighting for their place in line at Love Field, blocking any CNG cabs that tried to jump ahead, even getting arrested.

Today the cabbies set about making their presence known -- first by protesting through downtown for the benefit of visiting media, then by crawling along highways in a low-speed caravan, and finally by parking a few cabs in Love Field's passenger pick-up zone, choking off all traffic into the airport while Dallas Police called in wreckers to tow the cars.

Mayor Tom Leppert, chief proponent of allowing compressed natural gas-fueled cabs front of the line privileges at Love, is not at all pleased with the protest.

"It's disappointing," he tells Unfair Park tonight. "Too many people have worked so long and so hard to pull this week off -- for years -- and it's just disappointing when something like this happens. We're talking a relatively small percentage of the cabs. Unfortunately, a small group of folks are really not taking into consideration the entire community. And it's too bad."

The city's bigger taxi companies, chief among them Yellow Cab and Cowboy Cab, met briefly today with Dallas City Hall officials, who urged them to "get in front of the protest," lest out-of-towners think all of Dallas's drivers are hellbent on crippling traffic during the busiest week in the city's history. Says the mayor, "It needs to be reinforced this is a small group, and most of the cab drivers on the streets aren't who we're talking about. Most of them are out on the streets trying to capitalize on what should be a very good week for them."

DPD spokesman Senior Corporal Kevin Janse tells Unfair Park traffic into Love was blocked for about 20 minutes, by which time seven drivers who'd stranded their cabs were arrested for obstructing the roadway. Two more were written up for "pedestrian in the roadway" violations, one of whom was arrested after he refused to give his name. Late this evening, Janse sent word: "Dallas Police and Airport Operations have derived a plan to prevent this from happening again, however, the specifics of that plan are not being released."

The cabbies insist they can't afford to convert their vehicles to CNG, which they guesstimate will cost in the five figures. Several lawsuits have cropped up over the new ordinance, both at Love and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, but Leppert says he has continued to meet with the cabbies about their concerns -- at a town hall two weeks ago, then again at Dallas City Hall during a council meeting only last week.

"I have visited with them long and hard," he says. "And we'll continue to visit. But we have the bigger issues to deal with -- air quality and now public safety."

Says the mayor, the slow-roll on Central Expressway and LBJ Freeway today posed a genuine threat to public safety.

"And it's disappointing they'll take that position at a time like this, and some of that shows what their agenda is," he says. "It's a public safety issue for people who ought to be as concerned about traffic safety as anyone. And to endanger people, it's just not right."

And then, he adds, this week is "an opportunity to show off the city to many different groups and individuals that'll be here. This week promises terrific business, and to represent the city well gets us more business -- all the things cab drivers want to have. The other cab companies are dealing with it, adapting to it, and it's disappointing you have a small group doing things that are a slap in the face to the community."

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22 comments
dfw taxi
dfw taxi

Thank you all for at taking instead of making millions this SUPER BOWL season you are worrying about a group of who are too PROUD to beg, TOO PROUD to be a burden on soceity, TOO PROUD to steal and USE the AMERICAN WAY TO EFFECT CHANGE. SORRY FOLKS : AFRICAN WAY TO EFFECT CHANGE YES MAHAMA GHANDI USED THE WISDOM TO EFFECT,he was an asshead but he effected change.

Allen9723
Allen9723

Yet once again, Leppert shows his stripes. Poorly thought out, of little meaning. Tom Leppert is a slap in the face of Dallas. I am all for environmental measures that make sense. But that would require actual study of the issue, planning, and maybe even fairness in execution. Leppert has shown he thinks he knows what's best for everyone and will do as he pleases without regard to the ramifications - so long as his friends don't suffer or, so long as his friends benefit. But make no mistake cabbies, you don't want to get on this guy's bad side. He's as fanatical and vindictive as they come. He'll try to squash you for no reason other than you are irritating to him.

Nunya
Nunya

This is one expensive strike, and towing operators ONLY take cash.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Leppert doesn't care about the environment, he cares about T. Boone Pickens.

Also, if Leppert was concerned about the public safety hazard presented by obstructed highway traffic, he would have long ago ordered the police department to start using best practices to expedite accident clearing.

The cabbies in question lack standing, because they don't have enough cash to pay for protection-- pay to play is the Dallas way.

ARCHcowboy
ARCHcowboy

I quit feeling sorry for cab drivers when they started stopping in the middle of the street every night and blocking the entry to my garage every other day. Half the driver caused traffic problems in Uptown are caused by cab drivers. I'm for every single cab being required to be alternative fuel. Next to BMWs, they are the worst drivers on the road!

Ellum08
Ellum08

F every single one of those ass-hats. I don't feel sorry for them at all.

JS
JS

Leppert said, "I have visited with them long and hard." That's what she said!

rumpunch
rumpunch

I got caught up in the rolling roadblock on Central yesterday. It first I though Terrell Bolton was chief again. What these cabbies do not realize is that this is not a third world country. We do not feel sorry for them when they cause us problems. We will not pressure our government to meet their demands. Before yesterday, I felt a little sorry for their plight. After yesterday, I want the City to require all cabs to be alternative fuel.

You mess with my pocketbook, I will mess with yours sevenfold. Is Gulliani looking for another Mayor job? He can be pretty effective with panhandlers, graffiti and bad cabs.

scottindallas
scottindallas

it might be these cabbies are inspired by events in Egypt

Clark
Clark

Good for them. We need more civil disobedience in this country sometimes.

Guest
Guest

Wouldn't it be easier for these cabbies to just fill some envelopes full of cash and hand them out to city officials behind some churches?

I'm sure that would get the law changed pronto.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

I have attended Super Bowls since 1973. In every City I visited there was some type of demonstration by the locals, people who follow Super Bowls will not think bad about the City.Green Bay has seen it all. Every City has homeless,strip clubs,low income areas and etc. Take a deep breath Dallas it's going to be alright.

cp
cp

They "derived" a plan? From where?

claytonauger
claytonauger

You can't pin this on the enviros, Mayor. If it was really concerned about air quality, this policy would cover ALL alternative-fuel vehicles, without discriminating. Especially now that hybrids and electrics are coming on stronger, it looks really strange to pick out CNG (Isn't it folks like Leppert who are always lecturing environmentalists about how government shouldn't pick "winners" in the marketplace?) It's not nearly so noble a cause. It's all about Leppert getting T. Boone's money for his Senate campaign. Beginning. Middle. End.

Clark
Clark

Third world country? What does what they are doing have to do with a third world country? And what good is a government if you can't press them to meet your demands? Where I come from, that's called fascism.

I'm sure the cabbies are all very sorry they caused you a minor inconvenience, but they do have families to feed and lives to live comfortably. It was clear their little strikes weren't doing any good. I don't blame them. I'm sure if your income was threatened like that, you wouldn't hesitate to take similar steps.

And how does a rolling roadblock mess with your pocketbook exactly? Maybe you should take a few moments to look at things from the victim's point of view before you go all tea party on them.

claytonauger
claytonauger

Rumpunch in 1963: "What are all these black people doing on this picket line? They're blocking my shopping spree!"

Mr. Mean
Mr. Mean

I think that it is the Dallas way.

Ellum08
Ellum08

I was referring to the taxi drivers, but I could come up with a few other ass-hats as well.

rumpunch
rumpunch

@Clark - I appreciate your passion for this issue, however they have pissed off the mayor and possibly the local Super Bowl community with their actions. I do not think that it will end well for them. I know that these costs will effect their livelihood, unfortunately it is a cost of doing business. It may be unfair - but life is often unfair.

Also, to answer your earlier question, if my boss said if I wanted a certain promotion I would have to buy Armani, then I would buy Armani. At the very least I would decide if the benefit I would receive would justify the cost I would incur. Employees face this every day (i.e. more hours, less time with family, certain level of work clothing, unreimbursed educational costs) and you wither do it or there is someone waiting to take your job with a smile. Running a business involves this decision making responsibility.

rumpunch
rumpunch

I really wouldn't compare this to the civil rights movement. Nor would I compare my job to a shopping spree.

These drivers are not prohibited from working the Airport if they do not convert their vehicles. The City has offered an incentive to those that make the sacrifice. If it does not make economic sense to an individual driver to convert their vehicle, then that is their decision. Just because something is unfair does not make it a violation of their rights. Is the FastPass at Six Flags unconstitutional? This is the same thing.

Clark
Clark

"If it does not make economic sense to an individual driver to convert their vehicle, then that is their decision."

It's not really their decision, bro, it's their income down the shitter. Maybe you should look at your pocketbook theory from the cabbies' point of view. If karma existed, your boss would tell you that you have to give all your current clothes to Goodwill and only dress in Armani from now on, or else all your other co-workers get promotions before you do.

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