If you’ve ever taken a cab in New York City and thought, “Wow, that seemed to be more expensive than it should have been,” there’s a chance you might have been right. The city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission has recently admitted that, in just the past two years, drivers have overcharged passengers to the tune of $8.3 million.
Using data from GPS units installed on all cabs since 2007, the TLC found that 35,558 of the city’s 48,300 licensed cab drivers overcharged passengers at least once by setting their meter to the “suburban” rate, which is double the rate that’s supposed to be used within the five boroughs.
However, says the TLC, the lion’s share of the bilking was apparently done by a much smaller group of around 3,000 drivers who each overcharged over 100 times.
“Some of these people could face serious charges,” NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “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.”
Putting the problem into proportion, the city pointed out that the 1.8 million overcharged rides only accounts for .005% of the total number of taxi rides during the time period.
For their part, the drivers are saying that since nearly 75% of drivers overcharged at least once, it could be a problem with the meters in most cases.
“There should be a thorough investigation before judgment is cast on an entire work force,” said Bhairavi Desai of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.