Mayor Jerramiah Healy announced at a press conference in January that the enhanced safety measures will be a "safety pay box" to allow drivers to collect fares without opening the partition, and a "trouble light" that will notify anyone, including the police, when a driver is in danger.
Taxi drivers are required to install cameras, and the owners must install bulletproof shields and provide notarized letters from the manufacturer that the shields can withstand a 9 mm bullet.
The Jersey City Police Department will initiate a Taxi Operator Protection Program (T.O.P.P.), whereby drivers will fill out "probable cause" waivers, which will allow police officers to conduct random stops to check on the driver's safety.
The police department will also install surveillance cameras at the Journal Square taxi stand located outside the PATH station and conduct safety training courses for cab drivers.
The Division of Commerce, which oversees the city's taxi business, will assign an inspector at Journal Square from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. with a radio. The inspector will be responsible for recording the names of all drivers, cab and plate numbers, and all pick-up times and destinations.
Healy implemented the measures in response to a meeting with a group of cabdrivers in December 2004 after the Thanksgiving Day shooting of Egyptian cabdriver Rady Khella, who was shot in the head after dropping off his last passenger. There have been no arrests made in the case.
But for taxi owners, implementing the measures is easier said than done, as the cost poses a problem.Enforcing the ordinance
The recently appointed director of the Division of Commerce, Paul Barna, said last week that compliance by taxi owners in the city has been unanimous.
"[The Division of Commerce] has no problems with the owners. They are all concerned about the safety of the drivers," said Barna.
However, even though the city sent a letter out telling taxi drivers that the installation of the new devices were supposed to be made by Friday, April 1, the official date of implementation of the ordinance is June 9.
The City Council passed it on March 9, so it does not technically take effect until June 9, around the time of the biannual taxicab inspections.
The extra time that will elapse before the security measures are in effect poses a concern for Andrew Donath, a critic of the measures.
Donath, a Jersey City resident and former Manhattan cab driver, has functioned as an unofficial spokesman for Jersey City cabdrivers on the issue of security.
Donath said last week that based on information he has gotten from taxi drivers, a number of the taxis operating in the city would not have the security equipment installed by the deadline.
"The mayor and the City Council are pushing the deadline to June 1," said Donath. "The drivers didn't have much faith that these measures would be implemented, and now are even more disillusioned."
Donath has been trying to create a union for cabdrivers in the city but said "it has been slow going." Costly matter
For an owner of King Taxi, based on Hoboken Avenue, implementing the equipment is important but there's the issue of cost.
"It can cost anywhere from four hundred to seven hundred dollars. They will be in eventually but they're expensive," said the owner, who identified himself as Mike.
Mike also said that the safety measures may not be completely effective. He pointed out that the cameras could block a driver from seeing what the customer is doing.
Nicholas, a Haitian cabdriver for All City Taxi, said that his company has purchased all the equipment, but not all the cabs have the safety equipment installed in them at the present time.