Agency: New York City taxi cab drivers overcharged riders by $8.3 million

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Taxicabs in New York City
Image: Uris.

According to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), the city's taxi cab drivers overcharged their riders by more than US$8.3 million over the past two years, by setting their meters to illegally high settings.

The agency reported that some taxi drivers set their meters so they would charge at the suburban fare, which is twice as high as the urban fare — within city limits, fare is 40 cents per 1/5 mile, outside city limits, 80 cents. 48,300 licensed cab drivers work in the city; according to data, 35,558 of them charged a rider inappropriately at least once, the city noted. The statistics also say that 3,000 of drivers had doubled the rates 100 times or more.

Riders who overpaid spent about $4.45 more per trip than they were supposed to, the commission said. 0.5% of all 361 million taxi trips taken in the past 26 were affected by inappropriate charging, the TLC reported.

New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, commented about the findings in his radio show, saying: "Some of these people could face serious charges. Now, how we would ever recoup the money and get it back to the individual payers, no, but we can stop the practice and we can make sure there's penalties."

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a taxi driver advocacy group, however, commented that the overcharging could have been due to technology problems, and not because drivers were intentionally raising fare. Bhairavi Desai, who is with the group, noted that "[t]here should be a thorough investigation before judgment is cast on an entire work force."