Con Ed pays cabbies to guard BK electricity hot spots

BROOKLYN - Con Edison is paying livery cab drivers to park their cars over high-voltage hot spots, including some in Brooklyn.

The utility company says it started paying livery drivers to guard stray voltage areas until repairs can be completed. More than 1,900 hot spots with stray currents - manholes, grates or other items that can deliver shocks - were found last year by roving vans as part of a safety program prompted by the 2004 electrocution of a woman walking her dogs.

The New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers maintains drivers are qualified to protect the public from the safety hazard, but some New Yorkers disagree.

"I think it's just a Band-Aid on something the city should really address," Janet Carpio said.

Some 11th Street homeowners agree, saying they were unaware stray voltage was in their neighborhood until they called 911. They became suspicious of a black car that was parked over a 5-foot plate for an extended period of time.

"If it was so dangerous, why weren't we notified and why weren't warning signs put up. There are children on this block and people walk their dogs," upset 11th Street resident Maryann Slattery said.AP wire reports contributed to this report.

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