More Cabbies Refusing Outer Borough Fares

TLC pushes stiffer fines for rogue taxi drivers

By Chris Glorioso
|  Friday, Feb 25, 2011  |  Updated 4:51 AM EDT
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More Cabbies Refusing Outer Borough Fares

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Hailing a taxi at rush hour in Midtown is hard enough, but convincing the driver to leave Manhattan is getting even harder, data shows.

According to the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission, there has been a 38 percent increase in complaints about cabbies refusing to drive to Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.

That's 2,341 complaints in the last half of 2010, compared to 1,693 complaints for the same period the previous year.

“It’s not just irritating. It’s against our rules,” said TLC Commissioner David Yassky. “Drivers do get fined when we catch them.”

City regulations require NYC taxi drivers to take passengers to any address within the geographic boundaries of the five boroughs. If an on-duty driver is caught refusing an outer-borough fare, he or she is currently subject to a $200 fine for a first offense.

Yassky is asking the City Council to increase the fine to $500 for a first offense and up to $750 plus a 30-day suspension for a second offense.

Under the new proposal, a third offense within 36 months would result in revocation of the driver’s TLC license, the same penalty that applies now.

“The rules are that everybody has a right to the service, no matter where they’re going in New York City, and when you accept the good of being a taxi driver you take all the rules that go with it,” Yassky said. The TLC is advising customers to copy down taxi medallion numbers and call 311 to report drivers who refuse outer-borough fares.

Because all taxis now have GPS installed, regulators can verify complaints by matching meter records with geographic information. If a driver chooses to challenge the accusation that he or she refused service, an administrative hearing is scheduled. Complainants can testify at the hearings via phone or in person.

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