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“The only dissenting vote”

November 29, 2012

Iris Weinshall opposed a common-sense change to the confusing off-duty lights atop the city’s taxi fleet.

Thanks to a near-unanimous vote at a meeting this morning, the Taxi and Limousine Commission will require taxi owners to replace their existing two-light system with a single light with two settings–on and off–to indicate a taxi’s availabity.

The only dissenting vote came from Iris Weinshall, the city’s former transportation commissioner, who is Senator Chuck Schumer’s wife.

Why anyone would be against this is beyond me.  But then again, I feel the same way about the bike lane in front of Weinshall’s house.

I’ll update the post if I find out why Weinshall opposed the change.

UPDATE 11/30/12

The Times lets Weinshall explain her opposition:

Iris Weinshall, the city’s former transportation commissioner and a member of the taxi commission’s board, cast the lone vote against the new roof-light rules on Thursday. The goal of the change was to curb “cherry-picking fares,” she reasoned, and regardless of the policy, “it’s still going to go on.”

“Why mess with it?” she said in an interview. “I’m also a traditionalist. My father was a cabdriver.”

Weinshall’s father’s cab probably didn’t have airbags, anti-lock brakes, and many other modern innovations.  If her grandfather had driven a hansom cab, would she have opposed motor engines?  Lamenting the loss of something because of tradition is just fine — I cherish the subway tokens I still have but still love my MetroCard — but opposing something because of tradition is wrongheaded.  And yes the “cherry-picking fares” is absolutely going to continue no matter what kind of light adorns a taxi’s roof, but if this can clear up some measure of confusion why not approve it?


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