×
Post New Topic

Jitney

{{ ratingSum }}
Samarov
1448 Rider
 Posted 5 months ago


                                               

The first time I heard the word jitney was in Boston in 1993. I was twenty-three years old at the time and had just become a licensed Boston cabdriver. A hack.

A jitney was an unlicensed cab you could call in Dorchester or Roxbury or Mattapan. For a flat fee, they’d take you where you needed to go. Jitneys existed in cities like Boston because they were segregated and regular cabs wouldn’t pick up in black neighborhoods. They were an underground economy the city knew about but did nothing to stop. Because stopping it might mean having to address the underlying problem.

The word jitney in its original sense meant a 5-cent U.S. coin or nickel. What a bus or taxi used to cost. It might come from the Louisiana Créole word jetnée. Which definitely comes from the French word jeton.

Which means token.

In Chicago, cabdrivers are given a map of the city broken down by numbered service areas. Large swaths of the South and West Sides—traditionally black neighborhoods—are marked underserved. Meaning the city knows people have a hard time getting a ride in these places and, at least on paper, encourage us drivers to do something about it.

Jitneys picked up the slack. I’d see cars idling around the 95th Street Red Line station, for instance. They knew that few cabs would take people the rest of the way from where the train stopped. The city knew, too, and looked the other way.

The year I quit driving a cab—2012—was the year Uber came to town. They recruited me because I&r…

Read more...


                                               

The first time I heard the word jitney was in Boston in 1993. I was twenty-three years old at the time and had just become a licensed Boston cabdriver. A hack.

A jitney was an unlicensed cab you could call in Dorchester or Roxbury or Mattapan. For a flat fee, they’d take you where you needed to go. Jitneys existed in cities like Boston because they were segregated and regular cabs wouldn’t pick up in black neighborhoods. They were an underground economy the city knew about but did nothing to stop. Because stopping it might mean having to address the underlying problem.

The word jitney in its original sense meant a 5-cent U.S. coin or nickel. What a bus or taxi used to cost. It might come from the Louisiana Créole word jetnée. Which definitely comes from the French word jeton.

Which means token.

In Chicago, cabdrivers are given a map of the city broken down by numbered service areas. Large swaths of the South and West Sides—traditionally black neighborhoods—are marked underserved. Meaning the city knows people have a hard time getting a ride in these places and, at least on paper, encourage us drivers to do something about it.

Jitneys picked up the slack. I’d see cars idling around the 95th Street Red Line station, for instance. They knew that few cabs would take people the rest of the way from where the train stopped. The city knew, too, and looked the other way.

The year I quit driving a cab—2012—was the year Uber came to town. They recruited me because I’d written a book and I used their app to pick up some fares. There wasn’t much work yet, but that iPhone was like a crystal ball which revealed a dark future for the taxi industry.

The other day an Uber driver picked me up in Bridgeport. We drove south, through where the stockyards used to be, then east down Garfield and around Kenwood and Bronzeville. He admitted to being nervous and unfamiliar with these places.

He wanted to know what being a cabdriver had been like. How did I navigate the city with no GPS? Did I make more than the sub-minimum wage that is standard in the ride-share racket?

In 2018 the cab industry is all but dead. Maybe fares will go back down to a nickel. Then all we’ll have are jitneys.


Read more here.









Read less...

Comments

    {{ ratingSum }}
    breakingbread
    268 Rider Driver
     5 months ago

    Full Circle! Curious, do you find the term "hack" offensive. I have known some cab drivers who don't like that term. Same goes for "Cabbie". What are your thoughts?

    Show Hide  2 Replies
      {{ ratingSum }}
      Samarov
      OP 1448 Rider
       5 months ago

      Not really, because by the time I drove in the early 90s it was already an old timey term. When my first book came out in 2011 I had to explain to a lot of people what it meant. That it wasn't just a shitty writer who just works for money. But the double meaning was intentional :)

        {{ ratingSum }}
        breakingbread
        268 Rider Driver
         5 months ago

        Interesting, thanks for the insight.

    {{ ratingSum }}
    lilly
    1024 Rider Guru
     5 months ago

    Hi Dmitry! Hope all is well with you :)

    Show Hide  1 Reply
      {{ ratingSum }}
      Samarov
      OP 1448 Rider
       5 months ago

      Hey, Lilly. I'm getting by. Thanks for asking.