Seems nobody's happy with the current cab situation in Boston, not riders, not drivers and owners and not large institutions that employ the sort of people who would be likely to need a cab.
The mayor's office today released a lengthy report on the state of cabs in Boston that features a number of findings and recommendations. Among them:
- Consider a nighttime surcharge to attract more drivers and ease waiting times as entertainment venues empty out
- Really crack down on out-of-town cabbies leeching business from Boston cabbies - and look at creating a commisison that would oversee the new breed of livery services, such as Uber and that thing with the pink mustaches.
- Make it easier for riders to figure out how much rides will actually cost - especially if the airport is involved in the trip;
- Create new, larger and better marked cab stands and allow for temporary cab stands at large venues, such as Fenway Park.
A cabbie working fulltime can expect to earn around $60,000 a year. Each day, Boston cabs provide 40,000 trips.
Currently, the report says, "When a customer requests a trip via the telephone or a smartphone application through a radio association, only 78% of the requests are completed, and only 87% of the served trips are picked up within 20 minutes of the call, based on data from one dispatching system representing 25% of the fleet."
Even worse is reponse in some of the city's poorer neighborhoods - barely half the calls for cabs in Mattapan resulted in a cab showing up, according to that data. And while technosavvy 20somethings can turn to smartphone-enabled services such as Uber, some communities, such as the elderly, cannot.
City cab regulators could stand some improvement:
On the Hackney Unit website, it states that staff will respond to customer complaints within 10 business days. Some customers have reported that it often takes up to a month to be contacted. Also, the window of time to discuss a complaint – sometimes a specific two hour period on a specific day -- can be unreasonable.
The airport is a taxi chokepoint:
Massport staff reported that at peak times, there can be 100 or more customers waiting for a taxi at each terminal. They report that the worst time is Friday nights, when it’s raining, and on college graduation weekends when multiple loading – and the use of livery vehicles – is required. Massport staff reports that multiple loading periods can sometime last for hours (the most recent data from June 2013 shows that an average day has about two hours of multiple loading).
The airport is also a source of confusion:
Hackney Unit staff – and drivers and customers alike-- are lacking clarity on the circumstances under which the $2.75 fee may be charged on a trip from Boston to Logan Airport. Indeed, this lack of clarity has resulted in complaints. Rule 403 states that the $2.75 fee can be charged on trips to the airport, and that it cannot be charged for trips from Boston to East Boston. Clarity is needed however on what exactly is considered the airport and what is in "East Boston." For example, are the Hilton Airport, the Hyatt Hotel, and the new rental car facility considered “airport” or “East Boston” locations?
Institutions in the Longwood Medical Area also express frustration with taxi service.