Does it Suck to Drive the Minivan Cab? 

Minivans are pretty lame. Everyone knows that, even the lovely soccer moms wheeling joyfully around Long Island. So is driving the minivan cab some kind of demotion or rookie hazing ritual?
    
Osman
Where I hailed him: East Village
Where he hails from:  Bangladesh
Years as a cabbie: 3
Previous profession: Worked in a store

The minivans... The regular cars... Who cares? It is all so expensive. I tell you, it is miserable. Miserable! Even two years ago it was better. I would drive a minivan, sure! But they would charge me extra for it, and it must burn gas. Soon, they will start charging me to breathe, I am sure.
    
Hanani
Where I hailed him:  Williamsburg
Where he hails from:  Russia
Years as a cabbie:  8
Previous profession:  Construction

The vans are harder to drive. Think about it. The center of gravity of the lower car compared to the center of gravity of the higher car. It is just easier to drive, you know, handles better. But they are better on gas — the vans. Because they are Toyotas. The car you get maybe 25 miles, the vans 30 or 35 miles. It doesn’t matter, anyway though, because in 2007 it’s all going to be hybrids anyway — all those vans are going to be hybrids then. You’re going to see them everywhere.
    
Jean
Where I hailed him: Chelsea
Where he hails from: Haiti
Years as a cabbie: 10
Previous profession: Teacher

I’ll tell you why I drive this van. It’s much more comfortable. I don’t get tired as easily. The view of the road is better in my opinion. And if I get tired during a shift — or things are going slow — I can pull over and catch a catnap and be very comfortable. Yes! It’s true man. This thing can be a bed if I need it. Now, the drawback is it costs more to lease for me. The garage I work for, they charge a little more. To me, it’s worth it.
    
Uibble
Where I hailed him: Midtown West
Where he hails from: Nigeria
Months as a cabbie: 8
Previous profession: Student

I have no idea who decides to drive the vans or how they’re assigned. My garage doesn’t have any, so I don’t know a thing about them. I’ve talked to a couple guys who’ve been driving them, but I didn’t ask how they ended up doing it. How do you like my driving? Like a professional, right? I’m new to the business, but I drive well, right?
    
George
Where I hailed him: Union Square
Where he hails from:  Czech Republic
Years as a cabbie: 5
Previous profession: Ticket agent for the Czech National Railway

Yes. I’ve tried the vans. What those are is a recipe for a group of six drunks to jump in after some happy hour and get really loud and annoying. With a car, I can insist on no more than four passengers. Some of the vans can hold up to seven. There’s no incentive to take a big group in this business. The fare is the same regardless of how many people are in the cab. And usually they’ll waste my time trying to divide up the money. So, I stick to the cars, especially on weekends.
    
Mohammed
Where I hailed him: East Village
Where he hails from: Pakistan
Years as a cabbie: 6
Previous profession: Flower store

To me it doesn’t matter. It’s the same. The van is cheaper for the gas a little bit. Nothing too much, though. If it is a good night it is a good night, you get the good fares. It doesn’t matter what you are driving.

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