It turns out that the legislation text posted on the City Council web site, as of last week, was outdated. Over the weekend – with just a few days to spare before the October 18 hearing (1pm, 16th Floor Hearing Room, 250 Broadway) – the Consumer Affairs Committee posted the amended legislation, concerning pedicab rates, that is actually under consideration. You can read the updated text here.
The revised legislation requires all pedicab drivers to charge by time. Signs posted “on each side of the exterior of the pedicab” must show, “in letters and numbers at least two inches high,” the amount to be charged per passenger per minute. The rate per additional passenger may not be higher than the rate for the first passenger. So, if the rate for one passenger is $2 per minute, then the rate for two passengers may not exceed $4 per minute and the rate for three passengers may not exceed $6 per minute. These signs must also say “that gratuity is not required” and “that no taxes or additional fees may be charged.”
These requirements, if passed, will make for one ugly rate card. In the CityCab rate card pictured below, the letters are 3/8 of an inch high. Imagine the type more than four times bigger. I don’t know that the verbiage about tips and additional fees would even fit on the panel.
The new proposal would eliminate per block charges, per avenue charges, and minimum charges, per person or otherwise; pedicab drivers would not be allowed “to charge any fee unrelated to the duration of the pedicab ride.”
Mandating time-based pricing may or may not be a good idea. But at least the provisions of the proposed legislation that address rate determination are written in English. Not so the provisions regarding a strange new animal called the “Pedicab Information Card.” This section of the text is simply impossible to parse. It mentions both a “pedicab rate card” and a “pedicab information card,” but does not clearly distinguish between the two. Some of the language seems to indicate that each pedicab driver would have a single, reusable information card; other language seems to indicate that drivers would give one information card to each fare-paying customer.
The purpose of the Pedicab Information Card, it seems, is to apprise passengers of their rights, in writing. But many pedicab passengers are not fluent in English. Up-front fare-quoting, on the other hand, works even for tourists with limited language skills: All they need to understand is one number.