Four of the largest American banks received a total of $75 billion in the recent federal bailout, so it's safe to assume they're limiting some of their luxury expenses.
You'd assume otherwise if you spent Thursday in front of the offices of Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. If you'd have done that, you'd have seen suit after suit hopping into black car after black car, hustling off into the evening.
From Battery Park City to Midtown, the locations may have been different, but the scenes were similar. Buses and yellow cabs passed on by as fancier, roomier, more expensive modes of transport were snapped up by bankers in need of a ride to presumably a nice restaurant or a house in the suburbs.
Drivers told News4 that some of the rides were round-trip to and from bars or restaurants, others out to Westchester or Fairfield County at the end of another long day.
"It's not even cool, man," one taxpayer told News4. "They need to get me one."
A train to towns like Greenwich, Scarsdale or Garden City shouldn't cost more than $10, but the nicer cars to the same locations command a fare closer to $90.
Morgan Stanley issued a statement that said employees "are only permitted to use black cars for travel with clients or to client-related events, or if employees work past 9 p.m. in the office."
New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez said the banks might want to re-evaluate certain practices.
"When you have the taxpayers' money ... at the end of the day, you have to look at your entire operation and say, 'I need to be ... more responsible,'" he said.