Cab Drivers Join Locals to Protest W.T.C. Security Proposal

Mohan Singh is one of many cab drivers who are concerned about the New York Police Department's proposed security plan for the World Trade Center area. (Photo by Aline Reynolds/Downtown Express)

As residents of the Financial District express their disapproval of the New York City Police Department’s plan to set up checkpoints and close streets around the World Trade Center site, a growing number of cab drivers have joined them to voice concerns over its effects on their business, Downtown Express reports.

Under a preliminary plan, by the time construction at the World Trade Center site is completed in 2019, police checkpoints would be set up to screen all vehicles that pass through the area. Some drivers who regularly pick up fares near the site are unhappy with the proposal, Downtown Express reported, and some even threatened to stay out of the downtown area if the security measures are implemented. Drivers testified at a public hearing held at the Department of City Planning on March 14.

Though he makes most of his money Downtown, Beresford Simmons, who has driven a taxi for nearly 40 years, said the W.T.C. checkpoints would be a huge deterrent to picking up fares in Lower Manhattan.

“[With] the checkpoints, I guarantee you, a lot of us are going to avoid going Downtown,” said Simmons. “I would ask you gentleman who are in charge of this [security] program to consider the cab drivers. We are not terrorists, we are hardworking men and women in this city.”

One cab driver, Javaid Tariq, expressed a fear of being targeted by the police because of his religion.

Tariq said he would also avoid Downtown out of fear of being singled out by police because he is Muslim.

“Where there are more cops, there are always unfair summonses,” said Tariq.

The plan would leave downtown residents stranded, argued the drivers and advocates for them.

While fewer cabs will bother traveling to Downtown because of the heightened security, the plan would discourage local residents and workers from purchasing their own cars, according to Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. Desai said the proposed security plan would leave Downtown residents, visitors and workers with scant options for private transportation.

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