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Many of the latter are handicapped by war injuries and wounds which makes cab driving about their only available occupation.
With the cost of living as high as it is today, another raise in the price of gasoline would operate as a severe hardship.
Taxicab patronage is slowing down due to the great number of Government people being released from their jobs, while others, fearing release, are economizing and not using taxicabs.
Many nearby Army and Navy installations have either been closed or their personnel materially reduced. Those remaining are permitted, under peacetime regulations, to operate their own motor cars. Thus, this source of taxicab revenue, once profitable and counted on, has nearly disappeared.
There are more cabs on Washington streets now than ever before and, with moderate cab rates in effect, the driver really has to hustle, with safety in mind, to make a meager living for his family,
You men are familiar with the increase in the cost of living all down the line, and you can realize, I am sure, that where the margin is so small between income and the cost of existence, as is the case with the cab driver, the situation does not make for a good citizen.
I appeal to you members of this honorable committee not to permit this requested increase. It is the 1 cent here and the 1 cent there that finally spells hardship, and I feel that you should come to the support of this unorganized group which is already paying more than its rightful proportion of direct taxes.
Mr. Bates. How many gallons a day, Mr. Keeting, is usually consumed by a driver working, say, 10 or 12 hours a day?
Mr. KEETING. They will average 10 or 12 gallons a day.
Mr. BATES. So that the tax would be about 10 cents additional a day.
Mr. KEETING. Total.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES E. CANNON, WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. Bates. Sit down, Mr. Cannon. We are glad to hear from you.
Mr. CANNON. My statement, sir, refers to taxes and accidents.
I am a married man with no children, and my wife works to help with the family budget.
Records for the month of March show my gasoline consumption ranging from 6 gallons for one low day when my cab was in the shop, to a high of 1212 gallons, but with the average close to 10 gallons. This average I have been maintaining month after month
. not just for the month of March.
of course, I am making a living, but the increase recently in gasoline prices, adding up to 2 cents a gallon, were more than noticeable in my budget, and I fear that another cent added for taxes at this time,
when there is a steady downgrade in the cab business, would make things exceedingly difficult.
While I am comparatively young and am, therefore, able to put in long hours behind the wheel, I am concerned about the older drivers who will be unable to run those extra jobs necessary to take care of increased expenses.
I find it a struggle, even with the assistance of my wife's salary, to make a fair living, even though I am renting my cab from the Yellow Cab Co., whose rental rates to drivers are lower than most other taxicab outfits here.
Unless there is a lessening in the cost of living, an increase in cab business, or a slackening in competition, I can visualize an increase in the number of traffic accidents as the result of drivers trying to work beyond normal working hours in order to get take-home money. I hope this committee will not support the gas tax increase. Mr. BATES. You rent a cab? Mr. CANNON. Yes, sir. Mr. BATES. And what do you consider to be a fairly good day? You drive 10 hours a day!
Mr. CANNON. I drive 12 hours a day.
Mr. Cannon. In my case it is a little different from most of the cab drivers. I drive a two-way radio call service cab. Now, we get a 25cent additional charge for all service, which is permitted by the Public Utility Commission, so I would say my day's work averages for 12 hours around eleven to twelve dollars.
Mr. BATES. Total receipts?
Mr. BATES. Somebody else takes your cab when you are through?
Mr. CANNON. That is right; and we buy our own gas, which runs about $2.50 to $2.60 a day.
Mr. BATEs. Let me ask this question. Why do you rent a cab? Mr. Cannon. Why do I rent a cab? Mr. BATEs. Yes. Mr. CANNON. Well, this is the situation: I owned a cab before I rented one. The cab got old. I could not afford to keep it up; and as a result I sold it and went into renting; it seems to be reasonablemore reasonable than trying to own one and operate it.
Mr. Bates. They take care of all the repair and tires and so forth;
Mr. Carxon. Yes; that is right. Mr. Bates. For the $4 a day, to keep it going? Mr. CANNON. Yes. My night man who works with me, he owned his own cab and now is renting from the company, too.
Mr. BATEs. Is that because of force of circumstances or because it is more economical ?
Mr. Cannon. Well, you cannot get the money to buy a new one; you cannot advance enough money ahead to make a down payment; so as a result, as the car grows older, you have got to get out of it.
Mr. BATES. If you had money enough to buy a car, could you get a car, and would your permit to drive apply to that car?
Mr. Cannon. I do not quite understand.
Mr. BATES. In other words, if you bought a car today, could you drive on the driver's permit you now have?
Mr. Cannon. I have a District driver's permit; I have a hacker's permit and license.
Mr. Bates. Then you could drive any car, including your own?
What do you find the general condition of the streets to be? The previous witness spoke about the condition of the streets being bumpy and so forth.
Mr. CANNON. Well, I find that there are just a few streets in town that are in bad condition. The most of them are in good condition. Of course, they are doing a lot of work digging, tearing up streets, which is natural after the war years when they did not do much.
Mr. Bates. Mr. Keller, while you were out of the room testimony was given that the cost of gasoline has increased 2.6 within the year. Are those the facts?
Mr. KELLER. Well, the price, the most recent price in gasoline, Mr. Chairman, was an increase of 1 cent per gallon, and the previous increase before that was three-tenths of a cent per gallon; that is all reflected in the official statistics which I released from the Bureau
Mr. BATEs. What was it, say, a year ago?
Mr. KELLER. VJ-day? It may be true back there. I do not have any information on that. It might well be at that time.
Mr. Bates. What was the 0.3 increase; when did that take place?
Mr. KELLER. The preceding increase, I do not have any recollection of it, any independent recollection of it; it might have been-I think there was some price adjustment around after VJ-day.
Mr. BATES. VJ-day?
Mr. BATEs. So, these taxi drivers who are large consumers of gasoline have to pay 2.6 over and above what they did after VJ-day.
Mr. KELLER. That may be a perfectly proper figure; I do not know what the figure is, but it may well be right.
Mr. Bates. So, if this is another cent, it would be 3.6, and it would be about 36 cents a day over and above the VJ-day price. Mr. CANNON. It would run over a hundred dollars a year. Mr. BATES. Yes. Just about a hundred dollars a year.
Mr. CANNON. And you have to remember during the war our average workday was around 7 hours. Now it is 12, and the amount of money coming in is not as great_far below.
Mr. BATES. Thank you, Mr. Cannon.
STATEMENT OF ARTIN BROWN, WASHINGTON, D. C. Mr. Brown. My name is Artin Brown, and I am a driver of a Yellow Cab. . It is a rental cab. I have been driving cabs in Washington for some 14 years. I drove in the latter thirties, called by some drivers the “terrible thirties” and by others the "dirty thirties," when conditions among them could best be described by the word "desperate."
Then it was necessary to save up for months to buy a new pair of pants, while a new suit was just about out of the question.
I do not expect to drive a cab all my life, since I am at present studying horticulture and expect to make that my profession.
However, I have a deep interest in the cab business and the drivers, and sincerely hope that they will never again reach that state of semiexistence in which they labored during the thirties.
I am, therefore, opposed to the proposed gas-tax increase which I view as an opening wedge in another decline in the cab driver's livelihood.
While I appreciate the beauty of Washington and would like to see its appearance maintained and even improved, I do not think it should be done at the expense of this group of men and women whose failure to organize into a pressure group places them at the mercy of considerate men, such as I hope compose the membership of this committee.
As a single man, it is beyond my comprehension how the fellows with large families are able to make ends meet under present conditions. I hope you will vote down the demand for an increase in gasoline taxes.
Mr. BATEs. Let me ask you a question. How many hours a day do you drive?
Mr. Brown. Well, sir, my condition is entirely different from the others. I do not work' too much. I work about 35 or 40 hours, sometimes maybe 50 hours. I spend a lot of time on my studies; I go out of town with the Department of Agriculture; I do a lot of work at home on agriculture. I work just enough to make my ends
Mr. BATES. What do you mean by your studies?
Mr. Brown. No, sir; we do not get that. I have not gone into it. I am taking two different courses, landscaping and horticulture, and it takes much of my time.
Mr. Bates. Now, let me ask you this. Where do you take thow courses?
Mr. Brown. I take correspondence courses.
Mr. Bates. Then you drive, of course, just enough to get along to keep up with your studies?
Mr. Brown. Yes, sir.
Mr. Bates. That is very commendable. Of course, your case in a little bit different.
Mr. Brown. Yes, sir.
Mr. BATES. So, you say you drive around 40 hours a week. What do you consider to be net income for 40 hours, let us assume, not applying to yourself but, generally speaking.
Mr. Brown. Forty hours is not enough to make expenses; abont twenty-five, thirty, it depends upon business conditions.
Mr. BATEs. Twenty-five, thirty dollars a week for 40 hours!
Mr. Brown. Net, possibly. Business varies according to condition One man might work 10 hours and take in so much, and another might work 10 hours and make only from 50 to 75 percent of what the other one would make.
Mr. BATEs. From your experience, say an 8-hour run, an average 8-hour run a day, would bring in how much money a day?
Mr. Brown. Eight hours net?
Mr. Bates. You say twelve, thirteen dollars is a fairly good average gross?
Mr. Brown. Well, no, not good; between ten, twelve, and thirteenyou see, here is another thing you have got to take into consideration. A cab driver, when a man goes out fresh he can take in more money than a man who is at the peak end of his day's work. It is hard to explain, but when you are fresh you can get the business. But after you have worked a few hours you lag.
Mr. BATEs. You get tired.
Mr. Brown. It is hard to explain. Of course, the average person believes that all you do is open the door and let them come in, and that is all there is to it, but there is more to it than that.
Mr. BATES. So, if you average net, say; 8 hours, seven or eight dollars, you are doing well!
Mr. Brown. Oh, you would be doing very well if you were netting seven or eight; that is unusual.
Mr. BATES. That is where you rent the cab?
Mr. Brown. It makes no difference whether you rent or buy, and the man who buys would net more, but then in the long run he has the expense of buying another cab.
Mr. BATES. That is right. Well, thank you very much.
Mr. BATEs. We now have Mr. Herrick of the Retail Gasoline Dealers Association of Washington, D. C.
We are glad to hear from you, Mr. Herrick.