San Diego State University (SDSU) and the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI) released a taxi industry report on Thursday, May 23rd. Researchers surveyed 331 taxi drivers between March and April of 2013. Drivers were asked questions about how much they bring home in wages, how much they spend on expenses, how many hours they work, if they received health care and finally, questions about vehicle safety and industry practices. What they found is that there are serious concerns in the San Diego taxi industry in regard to regulation and working conditions. Not only that but that these concerns impact public health and safety.
1) Almost 90% of licensed taxi drivers in San Diego are “lease drivers,” who rent the cars from individual or business owners, usually by the week.
2) San Diego taxi drivers earn a median of less than $5 an hour. They must drive for more than 70 hours a week to earn what a minimum-wage worker makes in 40 hours.
Drivers make only 30¢ of each $1 collected, including tips.
3) Virtually no drivers have job-related health coverage or workers’ compensation insurance, and few are covered for injuries in case of accidents. While they lack employee benefits, drivers also are denied the business practices standard for independent contractors.
4) The current system encourages taxi drivers to drive when tired or sick, and allows lax vehicle maintenance, putting public health and safety at risk.
5) City permits are re-sold on the open market without regulation, for tens of thousands of dollars more than their purchase price. As a result, drivers pay high lease prices and are blocked from becoming owner-operators.