Cabbies Drive Out of State for Gas While Struggling With Fuel Shortage

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on November 6, 2012 7:33am 

QUEENS — Sadu Diallo, a cabdriver from Queens, was so desperate to get back to work Sunday that he drove all the way to Connecticut to fill up his tank.

“It’s better than waiting in lines in New York,” he said, noting that even though it took him about an hour to drive to Greenwich to fill up, he wasted a lot of gas on the way back.

Fuel in Connecticut, he said, is also quite expensive — he paid $4.65 a gallon. In New York it's about 25 to 40 cents cheaper, he said.

As the gas shortage continued throughout the city Monday, taxi drivers have been among the hardest hit by the fuel crisis.

They were running out of patience, as well as fresh ideas about how to fill their tanks as lines at gas stations in the city stretched for blocks and fights among drivers kept erupting.

Mohamed Alladin, a limousine driver from Ozone Park, said Monday that he had barely been able to work during the past couple of days.

“I can’t find gas anywhere,” he said.

The last time he was able to fill up was this past Wednesday.

“I ran out of gas on Thursday night,” he said.

On Sunday, he managed to get some gas at a station in Ozone Park.

“But they only gave me gas for $30,” he said. “That’s not enough in this business.”

He said he was able to drive for only about six hours on the amount in the tank. “It’s really tough,” he added.

Many drivers complain that even when gas stations have fuel, they are limiting sales to $20 or $30 per customer.

Hamed Qadeer, another taxi driver, said he is happy to be driving a hybrid Ford Escape, which doesn't rely totally on gasoline.

“Crown Victorias burn a lot of fuel and have to fill up every day,” he said, referring to a more common model used by the city’s cabdrivers. 

A full tank in his car lasts two days, Qadeer said.

He noted that on Saturday he got his tank filled at a station in Coney Island but had to wait for eight hours.

“I went there at 9 in the morning and got my tank filled at 5 in the afternoon,” he said.

Some taxi garages, which often provide gas to their drivers, still have some fuel.

Checker Management Corp., on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, said it had some gas remaining on Monday morning.

The gas there, however, is only for yellow cabs and fleet members, and not for drivers who only lease cabs.

Mohamed Ali, a cab driver for 20 years, is a fleet member and was among the lucky ones to get a full tank of gas on Monday.

He said that in times like these, cabdrivers deserve special treatment.

“When mass transit was out of service, we were the only substitute for it,” he said. “In situations like these there should be at least separate lines at gas stations for cabdrivers, because we provide essential services.”

Other taxi garages have already run out of gas, forcing cabdrivers to get in lines that have grown longer by the day.

“There is no more fuel here,” said Peter Metkasess, a cabdriver at Argon Management Corp. in Long Island City. “We have to wait in lines like everybody else. It’s a disaster.”

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