Mayor Seeks Steeper Fines For Cabbies Who Refuse Rides

NEW YORK (1010 WINS / WCBS 880) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg is calling for steeper penalties for taxicab drivers who refuse rides based on the passenger’s destination.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb with the story

New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission said reported incidences of service refusal have been on the rise. Between July and December of 2009, passengers reported 1,963 incidences, while complaints spiked over 38 percent during the last half of 2010 to 2,341 reported service refusals.

“Unfortunately, it is getting to be like the bad old days, when taxis wouldn’t go to Brooklyn,” said TLC Commissioner and Chair David Yassky.

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks speaks to TLC Commissioner David Yassky

Yellow cab drivers are prohibited by law from turning away passengers wishing to any of the five boroughs or certain areas outside the city.

“A core component of taxi service is that the passenger chooses where to go in the five boroughs,” Yassky said. “I strongly encourage taxi riders to call 311 each and every time they are denied service.”

Yassky and Mayor Bloomberg are pushing stiffer penalties for cabbies who refuse customers based on destination.

The proposed penalties would be a $500 fine for the first offense, and $750 and a 30-day license suspension for a second offense within two years. Currently, a service refusal carries a $200 to $350 fine for a first offense, and a $350 to $500 fine – and possible 30-day suspension – for a second offense. Third offenses within a three-year period would remain the same – mandatory TLC license revocation.

The TLC uses a “secret shopper” program to curb the practice, but passenger complaints are the catalyst for most summonses.

The commission recently partnered with Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs to enhance the “secret shopper” enforcement. The program deploys students to attempt street hails, particularly in the evening or late at night – when drivers are more likely to refuse service in hopes of staying in Manhattan and closer to another fare.

“True to the school’s mission of service, these students are proving themselves to be a valuable resource in our fight against service refusal,” Commissioner Yassky said. “I hope to use such academic resources again in the future to bolster our efforts.”

The TLC said it continues to monitor service refusal complaints closely, and strongly encourages any members of the riding public to report incidences at either 311, or at www.nyc.gov/taxi.

Think this is a good idea? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Comments

One Comment

  1. Catherine says:

    It’s all well and good to call 311, but to register a complaint, I have to take a day off of work to go to court. I live in Park Slope and I am CONSTANTLY refused rides from Manhattan at reasonable hours of the day. Do not tell me that I am being refused due to safety issues.

  2. NICK says:

    It is completely wrong to force someone(human been) to do something doesn’t want to do.

  3. pablo says:

    As a yellow cab driver all i say this is a business. I have to pay $129 for 12 hours shift plus gas money($50). if i go out of boroughs i have to come empty if i make 3 trips to out of boroughs that day i could not make my lease money . so people who leave out of boroughs try to save some money on taxi driver expense. Lets be honest if you want to cab that much why you don’t call limousine service that’s also provide door to door service. Instate of wining and be cheap be reasonable this is a business. If i can make more money in city why should i go to out of boroughs .Do we live in communist country or socialist country.

    1. Rob says:

      Because its your job, that’s why. TLC Commissioner and Chair David Yassky has made it clear that a core component of taxi service is that the passenger chooses where to go in the five boroughs. I have to work every day as well, and I have to do my job within the confines of the responsibilities set by my employers. I don’t get to pick and choose the tasks that are easier or more profitable. How would you like to go dinner with a friend only to find out no one will serve you because the tips will be larger if they serve a table of 4? Or maybe you’d like to be denied a haircut because the stylists wants to wait for someone who needs a cut, color and blow dry because its more profitable?

  4. Colette says:

    This is an important issue for those of us who live in the “outer” boroughs. I’ve had the experience both while returning home from Manhattan as well as leaving Brooklyn to go into the city. And, it has happened at different times — afternoon, evening, and night. If I suspect a cab won’t stop, I also aim to not share location until I’m inside — which can be difficult if the driver won’t unlock the door! It’s good that we’re having this dialogue — hope it will lead to action and change.

  5. Guest says:

    As Micheal H. has pointed out, the law is pretty clear on these issues. Cab drivers are prohibited from refusing service to any of the five borroughs. So, they can’t do it. Period.

    Someone noted that there is no constitutional right to cab service. This is absolutely true. But guess what? There’s no constitutional right to be able to drive a nyc yellow cab either. You are only allowed to do so if you follow the applicable laws and regulations. And these applicable laws clearly state that you cannot refuse service to the other borroughs.

    If cab drivers think its “too dangerous” or “not worth it” to go to other borroughs. They have two options: (1) Lobby to get the law changed, or (2) don’t drive a cab. If, instead, they repeatedly choose to break the law, the city is right to punish them.

    I grew up in the Bronx but have been blessed enough to make sufficient money to live in Manhattan. It angers me to no end that people (especially cab drivers) treat me differently now than how they treated me when I was a Bronx resident. I’m the same person.

    1. Double-R says:

      Growing up in Brooklyn, I get the same treatment. Its gotten to the point to where I’d rather just chance the express bus (express should be used very loosely to describe service, by the way) or just hail a cab when I absolutely, necessarily need it for trips within Manhattan ONLY.

      This keeps up though, I’m going to start taking down medallion numbers of of that little plaque they got in the window behind their seat and we’ll see who’s the wiser.

    2. Farid Ahmock says:

      As a yellow cab driver all i say this is a business. I have to pay $129 for 12 hours shift plus gas money($50). if i go out of boroughs i have to come empty if i make 3 trips to out of boroughs that day i could not make my lease money . so people who leave out of boroughs try to save some money on taxi driver expense. Lets be honest if you want to cab that much why you don’t call limousine service that’s also provide door to door service. Instate of wining and be cheap be reasonable this is a business. If i can make more money in city why should i go to out of boroughs .Do we live in communist country or socialist country.

  6. the bandid says:

    there is also something everybody forgot to mention, 90% of taxi drivers dont have an idea where Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx are, even with gps they are lost, teach them to read english first so that they can read a map or set up a gps

    1. Double-R says:

      Thank you!!!

      God forbid you go north of 96 St.! I tell the driver E.119 and Lexington, what does he do but make a bee-line for the west side highway when we’re already on the EAST side of Manhattan.

      Mind you, the FDR was a ghost town.

  7. Mr. Armenia says:

    The mayor is wrong here. Why should a cab driver have to dive to a seedy neighborhood where “they” are dealing drugs all the time as well shooting people and robbing them as well.

    1. Guest says:

      Mr. Armenia, they have to do it because its the law. And this isn’t one of those vague, ambigous laws where reasonable people can disagree on how the law should be interpreted. On the contrary, the law could not be more clear: cab drivers are prohibited from refusing service to any of the five boroughs.

      If people don’t think cab drivers should have to drive to neighborhoods within the five boroughs that cabbies think are unsafe, well then lobby to get the law changed. I personally like the law the way it is (seems fair to treat all NYC residents equally). If those who disagree with me can successfully lobby the city to change the law, then so be it. I’ll deal.

      But until the law is changed, the city is absolutely right to punish cab drivers who knowingly and repeatedly violate a very clear cut law.

  8. Catherine says:

    I have been prevented from getting in a cab until I’ve told the driver where I’m going and have been refused trips even to close, safe areas of Manhattan during the daytime. There is no excuse for this and I’m going to start taking medallion numbers so the drivers will be sure to get fined.

    1. Double-R says:

      Way I see it, they’re in the wrong profession if they’re going to sit there and choose destinations.

  9. David Goldstein says:

    As a former cab driver I always refused to drive to unsafe areas like Harlem. It’s a safety issue and not worth it.

  10. Josh says:

    While I believe a driver should be fined for refusing a fare, I also believe the TLC isn’t charging enough for people who are travelling more than 10 miles from their pick up point. Based on rising gas prices, their should be a $5 fee on top of the fare for long rides. This would even the playing field for the drivers. Then you can fine them for refusing inter-borough fares.

    1. T-bag says:

      they allready raised the price for gas a-hole last time the price went up. It went down and no one lowered the price.

      1. Josh says:

        Cabs are not an entitlement. They are a privilege. There is adequate mass transit to get home, even at night. If you think cab prices are too high, then use mass transit. If a-hole is the best you got, you don’t stand a chance.

    2. Michael H. says:

      Midtown to Canarsie (a “bad” neighborhood that cabbies wouldn’t want to go to) is 7 miles. Your arbitrary measurement is flawed.

      1. Josh says:

        It’s 10.8 miles from Grand Central to Flatlands & Rockaway Pkwy. Whether it’s 7 miles or 10 miles isn’t the point. Also, the last stop on the L Train is in Canarsie. So mass transit is available too. People who travel into Manhattan should be prepared to get home via mass transit, car service, etc… If Canarsie is so close to Midtown, then walk home next time. You can think about how terrible your life is b/c you couldn’t hail a cab.

      2. Michael H. says:

        So, Josh. If I decide that I want to get to Canarsie I should just suck it up and take what could amount to a 2 hour MTA trip when a cab ride is more convenient and takes half the time? The cabs charge a premium because it is a privilege. It’s MY privilege to hail a cab. It is NOT the cabbie’s privilege to decide whether or not to accept my fare.

    3. johnny says:

      Mass Transit is garbage.

      1. Josh says:

        There is already a law on the books against drivers and that should be enforced to the fullest extent. We don’t need a higher fine nor do we need to hear how many of you are victims. Step back from your privleged lives, think about the drivers who work 12 hour shifts to live slightly above the poverty lines and use mass transit instead. You wanna cab it to Canarsie? That’s your choice. Good luck and give ’em a nice tip.

  11. sally rogers says:

    Putting a driver in partrs of The 5 boroughs buries him for their shift. Its just not right. If you live in Brooklyn or Staten Island take the freakin train or ferry. Nobody told you to live in such an inconvenient part of the city.

      1. Double-R says:

        Agreed

    1. William says:

      I’m amazed that a moron like you can read and write.. Good job!!

    2. Michael H. says:

      I can’t afford to live in Manhattan or parts of Brooklyn and Queens like Astoria or Park Slope. NYC Law states that cabbie has to drive me where I want within a geographical area. If the cabbie doesn’t like it they can find a different line of work.

      1. Michael H. says:

        …and no, i don’t frequently take a cab home but if it’s 3am after a night on the town i might splurge on a luxury like a cab ride home, and I TIP WELL when I do.

      2. Double-R says:

        Exactly! Why become a cabbie in the first place? Since when to drivers pick detinations? Last I checked, they weren’t bus or train operators that went to fixed destinations.

  12. edgar aucapina says:

    i hope bloomber pay atention to the fare for the black car ,the gas is 4 dollars per gallon if the trip to la guardia airport is 40 dollars the base charge 33 and the base charge to the drivers 22% we have to pay the gas ,so nobody see for us ,and tlc is pushing for new cars if you want a better service take care of the prices

  13. puravida says:

    Good for the mayor. No city has ruder cab drivers. If you are going to the airport or have luggage or a lot of parcels they just sit in their seats and watch you struggle. Arrive at Penn Station and you get the same treatment unloading. Then they turn to you and ask “Where’s my tip?” I live in a country where a seven mile drive is eight dollars. The cabbies open the door for you, stow your luggage and help with any packages. If I am heading home they unload the trunk and carry and packages inside of the house. Now THAT deserves a tip. I wouldn’t tip my hat to a New York cabbie.

  14. Travis Bickle says:

    So, does the city reimburse the driver when they get robbed in a bad neighborhood? Didn’t think so. There is no constitutional right to taxi service, so let the cabbies choose their own clientele.

    1. Michael H. says:

      There is no constitutional right, but it is New York City LAW that the cabbies have to take you where you want to go within a certain geographical location.

    2. johnny says:

      Especially since you’re not allowed to defend yourself. Bloomberg should do runs into the Bronx at 2 a.m.

  15. Ms. Pastrana says:

    East Harlem trying to go to the Bronx

    1. Double-R says:

      Good luck. Trying to get a cabbie to imagine crossing the Willis Av. Bridge is like pulling teeth.

  16. Frank says:

    St. Marks bar area after midnight… good luck getting a cab to brooklyn!

    1. Michael H. says:

      That’s why I don’t say a word until I’m already in the back seat. If they start to whine about my location or method of payment I immediately threaten to call 311 with my phone in hand.

      1. Double-R says:

        I think I am going to keep this strategy in mind.

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