There was a time when the U.S open tennis tournament meant limo hire drivers in New York could look forward to filling their pockets, but this year the can barely scrape the money together to fill their tanks with petrol let alone make a profit. The slump in the economy and business world is having a serious knock-on effect on the on the limo hire chauffeurs with many of them returning home after a day’s work without having taken a single fare.
A handful of chauffeurs with their sleek black Lincoln Town Cars can be found huddled on the street corner just a stone’s throw from the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre where the U.S Open is taking place. They wait for the tennis fans to pile out of the stadium after the close of play and hopefully, call upon their services to chauffeur them back to homes or hotels.
However the numbers of these affluent fans has dropped dramatically with many opting to take the train back to Manhattan and giving the limo a miss. As a reflection of how dire the chauffeur business has become, where 10 drivers with their limos would normally be waiting for fares, there are now only 2 or 3 vying for the little work there is.
The 2 week long U.S. Open used to be one of the most lucrative periods for limo hire drivers. When the economy was booming companies would often invite colleagues and business associates along to the top sporting event to enjoy a day on the expense account. Now many of those businesses don’t even exist, and if they do, their belts have been severely tightened meaning limo outings to the tennis are strictly off limits.
A dispatcher for Executive Transportation Group, Larry Liebert, put the situation into context saying: “Last year we probably averaged 100 cars at the Open…this year, it’s probably more like 40 or 50. It’s a microcosm of what’s going on in the city.”