Updated 05/14/2010 09:23 PM
Taxi, Limousine Commission Cracks Down On Price-Gouging Cab Drivers
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All city taxis have been outfitted with an alert to let passengers know when the out-of-town rate is activated, as the Taxi and Limousine Commission seeks to revoke the licenses of the more than 600 drivers who ripped off their passengers the most.
Reports have found that some cabbies were overcharging passengers by deliberately charging the higher out-of-town rate for one-tenth of one percent of all trips.
After a month-long investigation, the Taxi and Limousine Commission says only 21,819 drivers overcharged 286,000 rides by $1.1 million, and the majority of charges were accidental.
They also determined that the majority -- 13,315 drivers -- overcharged only one or two times.
Another 6,200 drivers overcharged three to nine times, 1,671 drivers overcharged between 10 to 49 times and 545 drivers overcharged between 50 to 499 times.
Reports found 88 drivers ripped off their passengers between 500 to thousands of times.
"This wasn't a isolated case of one or two drivers. There are 640 drivers roughly who cheated passengers repeatedly, and we're going to go after them and take their license away," said TLC Commissioner David Yassky. "But by the same token, the overwhelming bulk of drivers, there's no reason to think that they are anything, but honest, hardworking, doing very hard difficult jobs, and providing good service."
"When people pay a taxicab fare, they want to pay what they are supposed to pay, not a penny more," said Bronx Councilman James Vacca.
Back in March, initial reports said that 36,000 cab drivers had overcharged riders by $8.3 million, almost eight times the actual amount.
An advocate for taxi drivers said the numbers cannot be trusted.
"The story here is of the incredibly shrinking numbers. We've said from day one there was not this pervasive overcharge that the TLC had claimed," said Bhairavi Desai of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.
The TLC will now perform regular checks to identify any future overcharges.