Taxi Scam Might Be Smaller Than First Believed

Monday, Mar 22, 2010  |  Updated 2:34 PM EDT
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Taxi Scam Might Be Smaller Than First Believed

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The TLC now says a lot less cabbies were involved in a scam to overcharge passengers.

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New York City's taxi commission chief says the scam thought to have cheated 1.8 million riders out of more than 8 million dollars is smaller than officials first believed.
    
The head of the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission told the City Council on Monday that a "significant" number of trips were not actually overcharged, as previously estimated.

Instead, many drivers might have accidentally pushed the higher rate code at the end of the trip instead of at the beginning -- a glitch that wouldn't have charged passengers more money.   Taxi and Limousine Commission officials explained the "end of trip" button is right next to the out of town button on the meter.

It's not clear how much the Taxi and Limousine Commission is backing off its original estimate that more than 35,000 cabbies have illegally charged a rider at least once.

But, the commission is still looking into the existing irregularities in which offending drivers gouged customers by switching their meters to the out-of-town rate -- which is double the standard New York City fare -- even when they were in the confines of the five boroughs.

That's 80 cents per fifth of a mile versus 40 cents.

According to the original report, the city has about 48,300 licensed cabbies and data shows that 35,558 have illegally charged a rider at least once. A smaller group of drivers is responsible for the majority of overcharged trips -- 3,000 cabbies were found to have doubled the meter rate more than 100 times. Passengers were overcharged a total of $8,330,155, or an average of $4.45 per trip, that report said.

The city said it was moving to try and recover some of the money for overcharged passengers.

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