Fear of catching the coronavirus has some cabbies and ride-share drivers discriminating against customers.
“I feel bad about it, but when I see Chinese passengers, I just go,” one cab driver — who asked that his name be withheld, lest his hack license get suspended — told The Post. “I don’t pick up anyone Chinese. I’m scared. I don’t want to get the disease.”
Other drivers are avoiding certain areas of the city.
“If I drop off somebody in Flushing [the Queens neighborhood with a Chinese population of some 70,000], I deactivate the app [and drive to another area],” an Uber driver told The Post. “I don’t know who has it . . . I worry for myself, my family and my passengers.”
Ada Robinson, who moved to New York from Hong Kong 10 years ago, believes she was discriminated against by two Lyft drivers last Sunday.
When the first driver showed up to retrieve Robinson, she told The Post, “I pointed to him, he looked at me, and he left. Then he canceled the ride. A second driver came, looked at me and drove around the corner. He hesitated and drove off.”
‘I don’t pick up anyone Chinese. I’m scared. I don’t want to get the disease.’ – NYC taxi driver
Robinson, a 37-year-old accountant and the mother of one who lives on the Upper East Side, said she had to wonder if she was snubbed “because of coronavirus phobia.”
As of Friday evening, there were 15 confirmed cases of the virus in the US and none in New York State. The Centers for Disease Control warned this week that the spread of the disease in the US is “likely.”
Discrimination is also spreading across the country.
On Tuesday, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called the virus “public enemy number one” and said: “A virus is more powerful in creating political, social and economic upheaval than any terrorist attack.”
On Feb. 5, the NYPD hate crimes unit released a video in which a face mask-wearing woman at a Chinatown subway station is attacked in what may be a coronavirus-related incident. NBC News this week reported on a Thai-American woman being verbally assaulted by a man — spouting coronavirus condemnations — on Los Angeles public transportation.
“We have no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York City,” said Allan Fromberg, Deputy Commissioner of Public Affairs for the TLC. “Of greater concern would be any attempt to sow bigotry and fear in the name of safety, which will not be tolerated in New York City.”
The Taxi & Limousine Commission Web site shows a $500 penalty for a driver’s first incident of discrimination; $1,000, plus a possible 30-day suspension, for the second within 24 months; and $1,000 plus possible license revocation for the third.
According to Uber’s website, “Any rider or driver found to have [discriminated based on national origin among other qualities] will lose access to the platform.” As for Lyft, an email from the press department stated: “Discrimination against riders or drivers can and has led to deactivation.”
Meanwhile, a second cabbie — who is from mainland China himself — told The Post that he is no longer picking up any fares at JFK Airport due to concerns about contagion.
“There is a greater chance of somebody carrying the virus [on] international flights,” he told The Post.