Friday, July 11, 2014

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City Council Passes Bill Requiring Per Rate Fees On Pedicabs

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The City Council unanimously approved new regulations for pedicab drivers Tuesday. They are designed to keep prices down and help riders understand how much they will be paying. NY1's Grace Rauh has the story.

There have been stories of riders charged exorbitant fees by pedicab drivers, such as in one case where a short ride cost one family $442.

"We are all committed to taming what we call 'Midtown's Wild West,'" City Councilman Dan Garodnick said. "Where pedicab drivers seem to do whatever they want."

The problem is that pedicab drivers are sometimes tacking on hefty fees for multiple riders.

If three people took a ride around Central Park in a pedicab that claimed a rate of $75, they'd actually be charged $225. The $75 posted rate is actually, and confusingly, per person.

"We have heard horror stories of hidden per passenger minimums, mandatory gratuities, even taxes that are not required," Garodnick said.

The City Council passed legislation Tuesday that will require drivers to charge per minute rather than by distance.

Pedicabs will be required to have a timer that passengers can see and drivers will not be able to charge for extra passengers.

They will be able to set their own per minute rate.

Laramie Flick, president of the New York City Pedicab Owners Association, said he welcomes the legislation.

"It's the end of the per-avenue, per-block, per-person, plus initial charges that are easily turned into absolutely ridiculous fares," Flick said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to sign the legislation.

The passage of these new regulations may not be the last for the industry. The City Council seems eager to keep an eye on pedicab drivers.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she is open to looking for more regulations.

Flick said he thinks the industry is here to stay.

"They are faster through traffic," Flick said. "They don't take up the sort of space that tour buses do. You never see us blocking an intersection."

At this point they do not appear to be interested in blocking this latest regulation either.

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