Jewish World Review

Cabbie's dress standards get a fare amount of attention

By Maria Alvarez | (MCT) NEW YORK — Clean-shaven New York City cabdriver Yves-Robert Luis says he owes his successful career to his daily work attire — a crisp tailored shirt and tie, soft cardigan sweater, pleated dress pants and shiny black shoes.

"I wear a tie every day, and my customers always appreciate my appearance and my clean cab," said Luis, 59, of Brooklyn, who supports a proposed upgrade to the city's taxi driver dress code that will include the word "professional" in setting the standard for a driver's clothing. A public hearing on the issue is set for Dec. 16.

"The other drivers laugh at me, but I don't care," Luis said at a popular rest stop in Manhattan Wednesday. "They should dress like me. My customers tip me well, and it earns me money," he said, adding that his financial success afforded him the money to buy his own taxi and send his daughter to medical school.

A college graduate with an accounting degree, Luis said: "As a driver I represent the city, and I want to show that we live in a good city."

The Taxi and Limousine Commission will hold the hearing to discuss adding to the dress code the phrase "a driver must be clean and neat in dress and present a professional appearance." Under the proposal the old code's specifics that barred drivers from dressing in "tank tops, tube tops, body shirts, swimwear, bathing trunks or cutoff shorts" would be removed.

TLC Commissioner David Yassky said the proposed change is to "make the language of our regulations more concise and easier for our licensees to comply with. ... It will remind drivers there are professional standards that have to be met."

Drivers and some riders interviewed Wednesday at the Manhattan rest stop seemed to support the proposed change.

Steve Howard, 60, of the Bronx, who has been driving a cab since 1978, said, "Some guys are not in their best form. They wear shorts that look like swimming trunks and wear slip-on slippers and sandals, and shirts with no sleeves." He said adding the word "professional" to the TLC dress code "makes sense."

Sophia Lev, 35, of Manhattan, supports the change. Some drivers, she said, "are not professional. They are not clean and (they are) rude. And they smell."

Her friend Ronnen Mizrahi, 33, also of Manhattan, said he rides a cab twice a day and does not care how the drivers dress. "I am more bothered with the way they communicate with customers," Mizrahi said. "They should be more customer-friendly."

Driver Shafique Uddin, 38, of Queens, started in April and said he does notice that some drivers do not dress well. "I am a musician, so it is my habit to be presentable," he said. "I know the importance of first impressions, and I want people to respect me."