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City Council Considers How to Cope With Taxi Refusals

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WNYC

City lawmakers are looking into complaints about taxi refusals — and they have a few of their own.

Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer recalled a recent rainy night when he wanted to go from Manhattan to Long Island City, but after he said where he was going, the driver told him he was on a break.

"You're looking to get back and you just know you're gonna get a cab that's gonna say, 'Where you going?'" Van Bramer said during a hearing on the topic.

Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky said increasing fines and penalties will help curb the problem.

"I think if drivers understood that if they said, 'I'm on break' and drove away that there was a decent chance that they would get a fine in the mail they would stop doing it" Yassky said.

Lawmakers also heard from drivers, like Mohan Singh, who said at times he has reason to decline a fare but is scared to be reported.

"There are many customers, passengers, they are abusing me," Singh said. "Sometimes they use bad words against my parents. Sometimes I weep myself, but I cannot do anything."

Drivers can refuse a taxi trip if they experience threats or bias language, but they say that it's hard to prove to city officials.

The drivers group, the Taxi Workers Alliance, said officials are overstating the problem. But drivers who do refuse fares worry that outer boroughs trips will cause them to not be able to cover their expenses.

Drivers are pushing for a 15 percent fare increase and suggesting the city install more group ride stands in Manhattan during peak times.

The City Council is expected to vote on the bill to increase fines and penalties by the summer.

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Comments [3]

elljay1371 from Court Square

It's illegal for a driver in a yellow cab to refuse your destination if their OFF DUTY light is not on as long as the desitination is in the 5 boroughs. If their middle light is on, I always just get in... I ignore them if they ask me while outside of the cab. I work on 68 and Lex and I hailed a cab to get home recently. As soon as I said LIC, he told me, No, because his OFF DUTY light was on. I said, it wasn't (and I promise you, it wasn't). He kept stopping and telling me to get out. And I said OK, then take me to the nearest police station and we can discuss it with them. He kept going to LIC, but kept complaining. Cabbies don't like going to the boroughs because they say it's unlikely they will get a fare back to the city, thus losing them money. I get it, so I usually tip them 25-30% to make up for it. Do I have to do that? No. It's there job to take me, but it is how they make their living so I'm happy to spend an extra buck or two. I mean, think about the silly things you spend $2 on. Next time they refuse you do what I did and they'll take you. In the end, the cabbie I mentioned before apologized and thanked me for the nice tip. :)

May. 08 2011 11:43 AM
B from Brooklyn, NY

As a black female native NYer, I have been refused taxi service 80% of the time! I was always courteous and the drivers were usually very rude. I would have to call the car service from my local neighborhood to pick me up at different locations throughout the city where I was refused by the taxi cabs. Although they provide the best service, the laws against these private car services from picking up random customers in the street make it harder for non-whites to get a cab all together.

The city's transportation system is racist and classist - overall!! I can go on about this topic but I will not.

So, I bought a car. I am very happy, even though the insurance rate is ridiculously expensive. Now, my only problem with the yellow cabs are their driving habits. They are extremely aggressive and have no regard for others on the road.

I think that the abusive passenger plea is a cop out.

Apr. 28 2011 09:48 AM
Mike from Bronx, NY 10456

Competition is so high, refusal is not a problem during Daytime. At night some taxi drivers afraid to go to unknown destination for fear of good old life. Why it is a problem if some taxi driver do not want go where you want to go -- three other taxis standing in line to get your fare. Somebody is trying to earn a political point on the back of easy victim -- taxi driver. I should not say what I want to say about David Yassky or Van Bramer. I quit driving taxi in disgust against what these people sand for.

Apr. 28 2011 01:20 AM

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