- Adalgisa Payero-Diarra is a taxi driver, Uber and Lyft based in New York.
- Payero-Diarra became a taxi driver in 2013, then joined Uber and Lyft in 2019.
- These are the worst aspects of Payero-Diarra’s work, as writer Jamie Killin put it.
This say-to-say essay is based on a conversation with Adalgisa Payero-Diarra, a New York-based taxi, Uber, and Lyft driver who is secretary of the New York Taxi Drivers Union. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I started as a taxi driver in 2013 and started driving for Uber and Lyft in 2019. Now I’m part of the New York Taxi Drivers Union, a group that advocates for the rights of taxi drivers. taxi in New York as part of the Justice for App Workers coalition. Here are what I think are the worst parts of the job.
1. Low wages, especially with rising gas prices and inflation
We struggle to pay the bills and support our families. We are in an economic crisis, so the cost of everything has gone up, including gas. It was really hard.
We often make much less money due to rising gas prices. It pushed us to work more hours, so we are more tired and stressed. It means less time for family, and it weighs on a lot of people. Many customers think that what they pay is solely up to the driver, and this is not the case.
2. Lack of health insurance
Many drivers don’t have the resources to address their health issues or don’t have health insurance like many traditional full-time jobs provide. I consider myself lucky because I have insurance coverage through my husband’s job, but a lot of people can’t cover it.
Drivers without health insurance for themselves often can’t cover it for their family either, so it’s a big weight on their shoulders.
3. Lack of mental health resources
Mental health issues are really on the rise due to the pandemic and all the turmoil we’re seeing around the world. Everyone is stressed and trying to make ends meet, and we often don’t have access to affordable care.
4. Crime and violence
As drivers we need to reflect and be aware of the violence in the city. Taxi drivers and delivery people are the targets of crime because we transport money. We are the target of muggings and robberies, and even though we don’t have any money on us, people assume we do. This puts us in danger.
On a daily basis, my biggest annoyance is traffic. Anyone who lives in New York knows that this is one of the biggest problems in the city: there is always traffic.
I know the city is trying to reduce congestion, but delivery trucks, school buses, the bus line and more are just adding to it.
6. Get tickets
We always receive tickets for different reasons. If we drop off a customer where there’s a “No Go” sign, and a cop sees it and wants to, they’ll give you a ticket.
Or if someone is running across the street as we turn and suddenly stop, a cop might see them as we block them. It’s another post. It makes our job difficult.
7. Lack of support for ridesharing and delivery apps
We’re supposed to partner with the apps we work with, but that’s not happening. App executives make a lot of money off of us, but we’re supposed to be in the same boat.
There should be no better income for them than for drivers when we do most of the work. Yes, they help us through the app and the system, but they get a lot of the money while we pay for things like gas, insurance, and other expenses.
8. No union support
If we can create a union, we can unite and have the voice we need to express our demands. We want to be able to speak with officials at the city – and app – level to address some of these issues.
Through the New York Taxi Drivers Union, we want to bring all taxi drivers together so that we can have better income and more resources.