may 30

Cab Party Lines

Yesterday I randomly wondered: who are cab drivers talking to all day long on their phones? A few people responded that they are actually all talking to each other. They reported that there are party lines where groups of cab drivers all chat together. If this is true, it sounds amazing! How many people are in these "rooms" at once? What is the nature of the conversations? How long has this been going on? Do the cabbies know each other in real life, or is it completely virtual? I'm unable to find any reference to this online, but seems like one such resource. If anyone knows more, please leave a comment.


Maybe I'm retarded and everyone already knew about these party lines? Newb.

Anyway, more from this NY Sun story:

"Taxi drivers say they use conference calls to discuss directions and find out about congested routes to avoid. They come to depend on one another as first responders, reacting faster even than police to calls from drivers in distress. Some drivers say they participate in group prayers on a party line."

posted by Rex at 9:23 AM on May 30, 2009

WHOA. I had no idea either. I always wonder that too, particularly when I'm in a cab at like 7am and the dude is gabbing away, but I'm always afraid to Twitter the observation because I worry that it's been covered in one of the few episodes of Seinfeld that I haven't seen or something and everyone would mock me for the question. THANKS REX!

posted by katiebakes at 11:56 AM on May 30, 2009

I'm sure 99 was just about to tell me what an IDIOT I am for not knowing this is Season 2, Episode 3 of Seinfeld.

posted by Rex at 12:14 PM on May 30, 2009

old but relevant nyt article:

posted by rw at 1:46 PM on May 30, 2009

Was just having this conversation the other day but didn't get around to Googling it. Mind meld.

posted by Noah Brier at 3:45 PM on May 30, 2009

Makes perfect sense. Haven't you ever seen the cabbie clusters at cab stands at airports and outside of major downtown venues? Just guessing but I would expect that those conference calls are mostly intra-company as many cab companies are predominantly of one immigrant group. Being able to speak your native language would also, I think, be a driving factor in this phenomenon.

I've done some writing work for a white-owned cab company with mostly white drivers. I used to use their cabs when I needed one but once the cabbies realized I was an insider of sorts they had a bad habit of going racist on their competition.

posted by Mark Gisleson at 7:44 PM on June 1, 2009

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