Letter to the Editor: On Greece’s Taxi Drivers Switching Lanes

To the Editor:

Thank you for the viewpoint article, For Greece’s Taxi Drivers It’s Time to Switch Lanes, which appeared in the July 6 issue. The writer pointed out that “the driver told us how he had been waiting on line outside of that bar for 40 minutes and that he felt fundamentally cheated that he was getting such a short trip out of it,” and that is understandable, but it is also his job.

Driving a taxi is not an easy job by any means, and it can be dangerous picking up a stranger in the middle of the night, you don’t know who is getting in the car with you or even if the passenger will pay you at the end of the ride, you hope so, but there is no guarantee they will. They might decide to stiff you, not tip you, or even worse, assault you. We have all seen the news stories of cab drivers who have been beaten or even murdered and all they are doing is trying to make ends meet for their families. In the troubled financial situation many find themselves today, it can be difficult to mask the desperation, to keep things bottled up especially when the passenger engages in conversation, perhaps even out of genuine concern for the driver, so they will end up getting an earful.

I am sure there are many Greek-Americans who have Greek taxi driver stories, positive and negative, just like everyone in New York City has a taxi driver story as well. Personally, I have been overcharged several times because I’m just a tourist like any other when I’m in Greece. We would like to think as members of the diaspora that we have some edge or inside information, but I expect the locals will take advantage of me because I’m unfamiliar with what a ride from the airport to the center of Athens costs, for example. It’s one of the unwritten rules of travel. If you don’t do your homework before you go anywhere, you will probably get taken, like those tourists who paid $300 to ride the Staten Island Ferry, which, by the way, is free. The internet can help a lot in this respect since you can look things up to find out what things cost before you go there. And if you feel like speaking up, go ahead, it’s free country, everyone can complain as much as they want. In the end, however, we should all probably try to take it easy and cut each other some slack.

Pericles Theophilou

Brooklyn, NY


  1. Driving a taxi is not easy, even more so because most Greeks prefer to drive on the sidewalk instead

  2. Sorry most are crooks, have been since the ’60’s, always overcharge, especially for short trips they charge more. Tourists Diaspora etc that try and use the internet said, or look at my cell phone the internet says this much look!!! Will get the argument of a lifetime, then you see the ones faking they don’t speak or understand english, start talking like a proper english gentlemen with the greek word Malaka used 100 times between proper english, 1. Need new and clean cars, Air conditioning, Uniforms, More Female drivers its like 99.9 men. To get rid of cash either not paying thats very rare, (Unlike some German Tourists That think Taxis should be free to them because greece owes them debt) and to have drivers pay tax themselves, A new pay plan using prepaid tickets or cards, many world taxis use debit/credit payment in backseat area already, but so many greek businesses unplug the card readers. Say they dont work please pay cash, then they dont pay taxes on the transaction, but they pocketed the customers tax payment. Greeks are the problem not the Troika…Greeks got themselves here and because of their ways going to stay here forever.

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