New York City released new figures today in the ongoing taxi overcharging scam, showing that 45 drivers overcharged passengers more than a thousand times each. The No. 1 offender overcharged passengers 4,683 times, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Some 600 of the worst offenders will lose their licenses. Others can keep them and pay fines. A law enforcement official told WNYC that criminal charges against the worst drivers, in addition to license revocation actions, are expected.
Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky says the city has a problem: Once it takes away licenses, it doesn't have any way of collecting fines -- something he's hoping to change.
"We would like authority for the finance department to treat that as debt against the City of New York. Then they can seek garnishment of wages and all the traditional mechanisms they have," Yassky says.
The TLC estimates that uncollected debt over a 10-year period from drivers who once had licenses but now don't is more than $5 million.
Yassky testified before the City Council Transportation Committee on Monday about several bills that aim to reform the taxi industry in response to the overcharging issue.
Bhairavi Desai with The Taxi Workers' Alliance thinks that the city and passengers shouldn't rush to judgment until accused drivers receive due process.
License revocation hearings for some cabbies begin this week. The City Council is considering a package of bills that aim to add transparency to the industry and avoid future overcharges in the future.