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City Council Unanimously Passes Bill For Taxi Driver Fines

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A bill raising fines for taxi drivers who unlawfully overcharge or refuse to take passengers to a destination in the five boroughs passed the City Council by a 45-0 vote Wednesday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to sign off on it.

The bill increases fines for first-time offenders to $500 and a second offense would double the fine to $1,000.

Anything after that could lead to a driver's license being revoked.

"We know that this is a serious problem in the city of New York that must be addressed," said Bronx Councilman James Vacca.

"It is really critical that every New Yorker knows that when that cab pulls up they are going to be treated equally. They are going to be taken where they need to go and they are not going to be ripped off," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

"When you get the license, one of the requirements is that the passenger has a right to go to any destination within the five boroughs. It's not just Manhattan," said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky.

In response, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance issued a statement saying "We are deeply disappointed by the City Council's failure to address an economic issue with an economic solution. There were real alternatives here."

The statement went on to say, "Stripping someone of their livelihood for 30 days after two strikes in two years is severe and will take drivers closer to poverty, given already low wages and lack of unemployment insurance."

"I think it's outrageous. And we taxi drivers, and I speak for everyone, this is really ridiculous," said Victor Salazar of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

Taxi riders who have trouble with a driver should jot down the number on top of the cab or its license plate and call 311 to report the complaint.

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