For Boston cabbies, a losing battle against the numbers
Boston’s cabbies can be a surly lot, but consider what they endure. A Globe investigation finds a taxi trade where fleet owners get rich, drivers are frequently fleeced, and the city does little about it.
The Globe obtained fare data for one cab driver. It reveals a job filled with frustrating days and meager rewards.
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The Globe obtained driving logs for a Boston taxi driver for an 87-day period in 2010. The logs were released during a class-action lawsuit.
We visualized every fare.
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We made a few assumptions from the ride-by-ride data. 1) We looked at his first fare to estimate when he started his shift. Typically it takes an hour from leasing the cab to the first fare. 2) While he did do 24-hour shifts occasionally, we assumed he took out a 12-hour lease every time with a new car, which could cost him the max lease rate per shift ($125). The Globe confirmed that this was his approximate expense. Skip to details >>
Less than $30,000 a year
At this rate, he would have made about $21,400 that year, not counting tips. With 15 percent tips, he would've made $29,668. The average cabbie makes between $27,000 and $30,000 a year.
Expenses: $125 per shift
It costs $77 to lease a car and medallion for 12 hours. Other fees include $5 for collision damage waiver, $5 for sales tax, $18 for a "new car" plus about $20 in gas.
Tips, taxes and insurance
Customers generally tip about 10 to 15 percent of each fare. Out of their take-home earnings, drivers still need to pay taxes and buy their own health insurance. And sick days? They don't exist.
Drivers who rent by the shift can drive for 12 hours at a time, but they may spend hours more waiting to get a set of keys from the owner's garage, then returning the vehicle later.