Friday, February 13, 2009


TOURISTS & NEW YORKERS: Read this before you take a carriage ride.

The carriage industry is pleading poverty and asking for a rate increase. The existing law allows them to charge $34 for 1/2 hour and $10 for each additional 15 minutes. They "claim" to not have had a raise in 20 years. Believe that and I have a bridge to sell you.

The truth is the industry has conveniently given themselves a hefty raise. I mean why wait for the City Council to act ... right? No one cares anyway and the industry continues to get away with highway robbery. They are out of control. The law enforcers and overseers are either not able or willing to do the job. These industry folk might as well be wearing masks and carrying sawed offs.

The Department of Consumer Affairs, charged with protecting consumers, looks the other way as do most of the Council Members. And it is not like they do not know. Council Member David Weprin, who actually wants to be our next comptroller, knows and by his inaction and support of Intro 653-A, gives his tacit approval to fraud.

What a city! And you sure you want to come here?
Hold on to your wallet when you do because no one in authority will help.

OK - SO HERE ARE THE FACTS: It is one thing that many drivers overcharge on the street. That is bad enough. See this Youtube video that documents the overcharging. Some drivers actually charge sales tax when it is not even required. Anything to cheat the tourist and get more money. And BTW - it is a cash only business on the street so they do not have to report all they earn.

But the real kicker is how much they charge on their company web sites. Try Gotham Carriages - You will see that they are currently charging $98 for 40 minutes and $78 for 30 minutes. Outrageous. And look at this web site - New York Tours. $104.95 for 40 minutes. And another ride is listed for $173.95 for 40 minutes. Totally Outrageous. It should only be about $44 (that is $34 for 1/2 hour with $10 each additional 15 minutes.) There are no exceptions and no loopholes. So what gives!

Now it is possible by the time you look into these sites, they will be down. Not to fear ... we made copies and we have made our complaints. It remains to be seen how well connected this industry is and how deep the corruption is ... whether any action will be taken at all.

New Yorkers and Tourists beware! We hope you do not take a ride on Valentine's Day or any other day. However, if you are being charged more than the $34 for 1/2 hour and $10 for each additional 15 minutes - BY LAW!!!!! - then you are being overcharged. And you should not accept this fraud.

Contact Mayor Michael Bloomberg by clicking on his web site. See the box "Contact the Mayor." Or you may dial 311 to make a complaint by phone.

And visit the web site of The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages for more information. If you are a tourist, look at this link in particular for information on what to see.

For information concerning the facts about the industry, read the testimony that was given at the recent Council hearing on January 30th.

Good luck!


Unknown said...



Oliver said...

John: please explain how you think this is a "cheap and false allegation" when this information comes off the web sites of your colleagues and there is also proof (from the Youtube video) that some drivers overcharge on the street. Some of your colleagues are blatantly and illegally making money hand over fist and they have the nerve to plead poverty and ask for a raise. That takes chutzpah and shows me that they know the authorities look the other way. It is highway robbery. If you are not one of them, I, too, would be very angry. But maybe your anger is misdirected at us.

Drivers do not muck out stalls, nor in general do they brush their horse or do any kind of maintenance on him (hooves, teeth). Stable hands and other (hopefully) professionals do this. Drivers get in their cart and pull tourists around. They often read magazines and talk on cell phones while they work... a distraction to what is on the road... an accident waiting to happen. If drivers were required to have a NYS driver's license, they would not be allowed to do this.

When they do not have passengers, they have plenty of time to shoot the breeze with fellow drivers, while ignoring the horses. Remember Smoothie who was unattended, spooked, ran into a tree and died in September 2007. If her driver had been aware of her reactions, he might have been able to control her spooking. An experienced horseperson can often stop a horse from going into a total crazed spook. Unfortunately, this was not the case with Smoothie because the drivers were too far away and not paying attention.

And please, put a sock in it about "park avenue elite" who"never met a working man or woman." The people I know in this movement do it out of love and respect for the horses; out of a sense of protecting them from a life of exploitation; out of wanting to right a wrong; out of a gross injustice. They are working people from all walks of life and do this on their own time. If you never met any of us - then you truly have never met a hard working and dedicated man or woman.

Julia said...

This post is right on the money. Bloomberg is always yammering about revenue this, revenue that. Last night I watched the broadcast of his weekly radio show, in which he was talking on and on about very slick ways to squeeze every bit of revenue. However, this overcharging and unsafe cash-only industry does not provide any direct revenue to the city. How about replacing it with a money-maker that would bring authentic revenue--on the books--to the city? And jobs that benefit individuals as well as the city (and the IRS can get some of the action too).