Late-night cab service in Boston: Ugh

When the bars close down, cabbies pull the no-cash, no-ride trick, apparently. A discussion going on on Twitter:



Free tagging: 


Vote with your feet.

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Walk to where the cabs are. If you are anywhere near South Station walk to South Station. You will be able to get a cab. I'm not familiar with other cab hot spots. What others are there?


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The Boylston Street cab stand, Kenmore Square, North Station, Hanover Street, Charles St. South, Berkeley Street at Stuart, Tremont at Union Park...those are the cab stands I can think of off the top of my head.

Any major hotel is gonna have a cab stand nearby.

Taxi stands = free parking

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You'll only find cabs at cab stands during non-peak hours. If it's busy, you can wait at the stand and watch the cabs pick up people just up the street rather that going all the way to the stand. Then you go stand just beyond where the last cab picked someone up, someone else goes and stands just beyond you, etc, etc.

You might have better luck at a hotel, but tip the doorman to hail a cab for you. He'll have slightly better luck.

True, taxi stands are usually

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True, taxi stands are usually empty late at night. Also, people are taking cabs from where they are for a reason - for the convenience of getting from where they are home. For myself, as a woman, if I'm out late and intoxicated and trying to get myself home, the last thing I want to do is walk around downtown by myself to find a cab.

something else that really bothers me about late night cab rides: For as many times as I've been told I need cash because the credit card machine "isn't working," I've also been told that the driver doesn't have any change. I'm sorry, but you only take cash and you don't have any change? really?

Independent Taxi Cab Drivers at Forest Hills Station

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OMG, the Independent Taxi cab drivers at Forest Hills Station are rude as hell! They also lie like a rug, by telling you the machine to pay by credit is broken, or they will flatly refuse to take you and encourage their fellow drivers to do the same!

this is why you get in without mentioning how you're paying

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...and if they refuse to accept payment when you get where you're going, dial 911 and start talking with the dispatcher, because the cabbie is violating Boston laws that REQUIRE them to accept credit cards.

Do not negotiate, do not call their dispatcher. Call 911, especially if they become rude, angry, or threaten you. "Hi, I'm in a Boston cab trying to pay my fare and the cabbie is refusing to accept a credit card and just threatened me. I'm at the intersection of A and B streets, in cab number 1234. Can you send an officer? Okay, great."

Seriously, people. THEY GOT A FARE HIKE WHEN THE MACHINES WENT IN TO COMPENSATE THEM FOR THE CREDIT CARD FEES. That fare hike was for EVERYTHING, cash and credit. Which means that they're making MORE money thanks to the machines, NOT LESS.

The entitlement amongst Boston cabbies is unbelievable.

I agree

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I don't care about all this crying over Boston cabbies getting "gouged" on credit card fees. The last fare increase was conditional on them accepting credit cards and applied to all payments, whether cash or credit card. They have been more than compensated for the credit card fees. No other business bitches and moans about credit card fees than taxis. It's ridiculous.


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Please don't call 911 for something like that. Keep the emergency lines open for emergencies. Yes, the cabbie is "breaking the law" and a crime is technically being committed, but no one's in any danger.

Feel free to call the police department, though.

Wouldn't recommend calling 911 either

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I know hailing a cab can be a nightmare at 2am but honestly I carry $100 bucks with me pretty much all the time for cases when cash is needed, This, unfortunately, may be one of those times.You have to choose your battles.

If you're drunk at closing time I would highly advise against relying on a confrontational approach with a cabbie and expecting a 911 call to resolve it.

Boston cops are pretty reasonable but are also known to employ a little Solomon's law at time. cabbie might get CC reader "working" or might counter with saying you tried to screw on him.

Cops might not look kindly on a drunken 911 call over a CC dispute and you might find them focusing more on your behavior than the cabbie's.
Although this won't work well at 2am, finding a cab stand will usually work. There is usually one in front of any decent sized hotel.
I've never had one refuse me when approached there and told I wanted to use CC.

That would be a good time to be proactive and take down info for reporting as well, before a he said-she said dispute at end of fare, God know where.

Welcome to Boston

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For whatever reasons, BPD tells people to dial 911 even for things that are not life-threatening, but which do require a police presence (the one exception is loud parties - the city has a separate party hotline). So, yes, call 911.

What BPD recommneds and how cops respond ...

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Are two different things.

I'll stand by what I said - if you're drunk at 2am it's better to try to find another solution than calling 911.

Cops have a lot of discretion and your cc dispute could easily turn into a drunk and disorderly or other charge.

Also, you have to sit in the back of a pissed off cabbie's ride and wait for the responding officers. That could take a long time.
Sort it out before taking the cab is my advice.

2am on the sidewalk or in the back of the game is not the time to be making statements or proving points.

Common sense.

Just saw a dispute in NY where cabbie drove off with personal belongings. A lot a variables come into play and things can get out of your control quickly.

Personally, my policy is to get home without drama or police involvement.
you have to choose your battles.

Yes, at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night ...

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You can call 911 to report a problem with a cabbie, but there is a good chance nobody will ever come because the long arm of the law is stretched really thin at that moment trying to control chaos around Faneuil Hall, the Theater District, etc. So take down the cab number and call the Hackney Division first thing Monday morning, or use their handy online form.

But I was replying to the person who said you should call the local station house or whatever - if you do try that, they'll just tell you to call 911.

Oh,termanub I see that now

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Man the nesting of comments on this site needs a lot of work. ;)

Kidding, keep up the good work Adam!

Indeed. I had a car parked in

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Indeed. I had a car parked in the street that was blocking my driveway. I called the non-emergency number and they told me to call 911.

I don't really understand the BPD's 911 logic.

Yes call 911

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At every community meeting I have ever attended the police representatives have always said to call 911. It is not just for emergencies; it is for requests for all police assistance.

If you have the number of the local police station that is a good number to call as well. But in this context knowing the name of the local police station, much less the number is doubtful.


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I believe the reason why the police request people to call 911 is so that they can track what's going and look for trends. Having more data on what's happening in the city crime wise is essential for helping to reduce crime.


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I believe the reason why the police request people to call 911 is so that they can track what's going and look for trends. Having more data on what's happening in the city crime wise is essential for helping to reduce crime.


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I believe the reason why the police request people to call 911 is so that they can track what's going and look for trends. Having more data on what's happening in the city crime wise is essential for helping to reduce crime.


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I believe the reason why the police request people to call 911 is so that they can track what's going and look for trends. Having more data on what's happening in the city crime wise is essential for helping to reduce crime.

A crime is occuring

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Considering the cab driver is likely either keeping you against your will or acting violently, 911 is merited and the police better get there DAMN fast or they're not doing their job.

Lookit, I agree with you

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Lookit, I agree with you about the entitlement, and how to fight against bullying drivers once you're *in* the car, but here's the problem: especially in the last hour before the bars close, it's hard to even get in the car. They lock their doors and crack their windows to find out where the hail is going and how they're going to pay.

If the hail says CC, they simply drive ten feet down the street to a hail with cash.

And don't even get me going on cabs that refuse to go to certain neighborhoods or outside of Boston proper.

Be ostentatious

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I once saw a couple of cabs refuse to pick up a pregnant co-worker because she was only going a short distance. I pulled out a note book, stood behind one of them to be sure he'd see me, and carefully wrote down his cab number. Suddenly no trip was too short for him! I'd think this tactic would be even easier now; just aim your phone at him!

Then lie. Tell them you'll

Then lie. Tell them you'll pay cash, then say, "Sorry I don't have cash" when you get to your destination. Let your cabbie go get fucked sideways if he doesn't like it. These douchebags are the worst.

Need for Enforcement

Why is there little or no enforcement of the rules on cabs in Boston. From refusing non-cash fares, parking in bike lanes, poorly maintained vehicles without seatbelts, running red lights, and general sleazy behavior ... why can't the state step in since Boston seems so corrupt?

Time for a regionalized system, clearly. Also time to expand T hours on Saturday and Sunday to 2am and to start cracking down on driving and operating infractions - take them all down a notch.


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Or knows what the laws are and knows other cities don't have shit for transportation?

Enforcement is expensive?

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Enforcement requires committing cops to showing up in court if the charged individual demands a a trial. That pulls the cop off the street (and pockets their wallet with a lot of cash for waiting around).

Enforcement requires painful fines. When a fine is measured as the cost of doing business no one cares. Just pass it on to the consumer.

Enforcement requires political will because a lot of people will be darn right peeved when their normal driving habits are interrupted by application of laws.

I realized a while back that laws which are rarely enforced turn into suggestions. Add to that the social mentality in Boston that laws apply to everyone else pretty, much all laws are treated as suggestions unless proven otherwise.

I'll tell you why....

In the BPD, getting assigned to hackney is about the same as getting assigned to the pawn shop unit. A pain in the ass, do as little as possible job.

Hackney Department

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I know that the BPD Hackney takes every complaint about taxi cabs it recieves very seriously. It's important that people file complaints about the taxi drivers refusing to take credit cards or refusing to take people certain places. Hackney will call drivers in for disciplanary hearings and will follow up with the people filing the complaints.

This week’s reported

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This week’s reported incidents from the Boston Police Journal Log are shown below, courtesy of BPD District A-1.

Assault & Battery
03/16/13 11:17 pm
Male suspect assaulted a male taxi cab driver outside of the Fairmont Battery Wharf hotel. The suspect pushed the victim twice and failed to pay the fare. Complaints to be sought in court.

Hackney unit

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I reported two cabs at Forest Hills who refused to take my card. A few weeks later, a woman from the hackney division called me to confirm my report, and them told me the cabbies in question would be suspended for I think a few days.

Seriously - bookmark the link for complaints on your smartphone. It does work!

Trust but verify

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As the Russians say.
Did you ask for or receive ay documentation on suspensions?

Great news if it actually happens but I'm skeptical of by nature of this lind of feedback w/o proof.

To All: Driving a cab is a

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To All:
Driving a cab is a serious business, lots of dangerous people trying to fraud them, robbery,
Ppl skip fares and break doors and windows, not to mention
Drunks throwing up and making out in the back. Some pathetic low lives will even
Offer sexual favors for free ride. These drivers have to cover these damages out of pocket.
The reason Taxi drivers hate CC is that they were being charge a whopping
8-9% from Hackney /Co.. that's robbery!! They finally lowered it after much
It is absolutely wrong for them to refuse customers base on payment, however if you know they
Prefer cash, just use cash, why are you making the banks more rich and not consider helping
the working class which may be supporting a family.
If you are out at 2 am, bring cash. It's call survival.
And yes, they do get suspension, they take complaints seriously, and possibly
Losing their job, so before you really report someone, please consider if you were
Drunk out of your mind or have been rude to the driver that caused them to refuse you in the first place.

Not a leg to stand on.

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Cab rates were increased (and the rates in Boston were already too high) to make up for the % charged by card swipe companies. The % was not charged by the Hackney company.

If you are out at 2AM the LAST thing you should have on you is any cash because that is the time of night muggers are most prevalent, especially around bar-heavy areas, such as Allston or the Theater District, looking for people to victimize.

that's silly

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If you come across a "mugger" at 2am, he/she won't be able to tell whether you have cash or not. I'd much rather have $50 to give him than $0. Regardless, every adult over the age of 18 should have some cash on them at all times. It's absurd that people rely solely on their cards for everything. I was in dunkin donuts the other day and someone ordered a coffee, but the credit card machine wasn't working. He didn't have $2.50 on him, so couldn't buy his coffee.

So guess what?

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So guess what? If fewer people carry cash at night, mugging will become less profitable (albeit a bit more bloody for a time), and thus fewer people will do it!

I mean, if you were inclined to pecuniary pugilism, would you go out night-after-night if you were only making $10, $20 out of it and risking getting caught every time?

Admit it Boston Mole

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This ain't the least bit about the card fees.

This is about hiding tips from taxes. You can't do that with the cards, but you can do that with the cash.

Quit whining and quit expecting people to think you must be some sort of hero because you drive a cab. Lots of people have done your job before. Lots of people do your job in places where you would get prosecuted for the shit you pull.

Either find a different job or shut up.

No one believes you anymore

Look, I had some sympathy when the credit card thing first came up. I tried to pay cash for that reason for several of years. But the strenuous protesting that STILL hasn't ended - and the ridiculous attitude cabbies are still giving to everyone who dares to use a card - has completely erroded my sympathies. If this was about the small percentage paid to the credit card companies, the protest would have died down by now. The screaming, the illegally refusing CC fares and the constant bitching and moaning tells me one thing: this cut into the cabbies' take home pay much more than the few cents on each CC transaction. This is about the undeclared tips and probably fares they used to be able to just pocket without a paper trail for the IRS. Every other merchant has to pay credit card fees - and they have to compete with lower or comparable prices while you guys have a set rate you're guaranteed every time I get into your car. What makes taxi drivers think they should be exempt from taxes and fees that everyone else pays?

So you know what? Screw it. I'm done rushing the ATM before I call a cab just so the driver can show up 20 minutes late, take me the longest way possible, never lift a finger to help with a bag at the airport and then bitch to me the whole way about fees. I've been paying increased fares on EVERY cab ride to make up for the credit card fees charged on SOME. If I have to pay the ridiculous fares charged in this city, I should be able to use my damn card whenever I need to.

don't care

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As an end-user I honestly don't care where the money is going; to the cabbie, his company, the city, etc. It's just too damm expensive. Costs me $40+ for a cab from Brookline to Logan? It's a frickin' 15 minute drive! Simply outrageous.

Thanks for posting this, Adam

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I'm making a chart where the x-axis is "pettiness of problem" and the y-axis is "agitation it causes on the Internet", and I want to see if "cabs not taking credit cards" has anything within 100 miles of it on the chart.

Yeah, expecting publicly

Yeah, expecting publicly licensed and regulated service providers to obey the law is really petty, isn't it? I bet you think it's petty when people complain about MBTA bus drivers skipping their stop, too.

It seems it to me, yes

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And I would find a 50-post thread about a missed bus stop equally ridiculous.

When we've fixed - hell, not even the real problems of the world - the other problems with our local cab drivers (not knowing how to get places, knowing how to get places but also knowing a longer more expensive route, talking on cell phones, disregarding stop signs and crosswalks, endangering life and limb of everything else on the road), then perhaps I'll be more sympathetic to what, forgive me, seems the firstest of first-world bellyaching I regularly see.

That first-world bellyaching

That first-world bellyaching sure gets old fast, doesn't it? I understand completely if you decide to abandon this website completely in favor of Oxfam and Amnesty International, and I promise I won't miss you.

BPD enforcement priorities

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The BPD is able to spare detectives who keep our fair city safe from the scourge of restaurants selling rice liquor, from hotels offering guests free champagne, and from bars not using their food licenses; but we can't spare someone from the Hackney unit on a Saturday night to do a straightforward credit-card sting operation?


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Correct me if my information is outdated. Thanks.

I drove for ITOA in the 70's. At that time, their deal was different from every other taxi company of which I had knowledge. Most companies paid a percentage of fares to drivers, plus the drivers got to keep their tips. The ITOA did not do this. It RENTED a cab to a driver, for a set fee, for a twelve-hour shift. The driver then kept whatever fares and tips he could collect during that twelve-hour period. Once he surpassed the rental fee, it was profit. The possibility existed of having a losing shift (although you had to be either entirely lazy or totally unlucky.)

Now, if I'm a guy renting a cab for one or two shifts, in order to make a bit of cash quickly, say to make my rent, the last thing I would want is to have to wait until credit card charges are settled before I receive my money against the fee I paid to rent the cab.

It may be the law, but in the case of Independent cab drivers, I completely understand the mindset. In addition, some of those drivers, perhaps not being cabbies full-time or for the majority of their working days, may not know that it is illegal to refuse a fare. Just speculation on my part, and, yes, they probably should be made aware before they are allowed to drive - just saying.

It's no joy driving a cab for a living, believe me. Most of these guys are scraping by.


Yes, one might think that NOT

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Yes, one might think that NOT using Credit Card is to hide taxes, but if you must know, the METER is recording all meter transactions regardless of payment, so UNLESS the meter is NOT running, all meter transactions are LOGGED and are given a report for year end to file taxes.

Yes, getting mugged for CASH is really worse than somebody sticking a knife or gun to hold you to get cash from an ATM.

bring cash you idiots, at the end of the day, you just want to get home safe, that's the whole point.


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WOW LOTS OF TIPS I AM SURE for their outstanding service! So much tips they have to hide them from IRS, you think this is a restaurant?

I'll bring plenty of cash, douche

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Euro dollars or pence?

Some people do this thing called "foreign travel" and don't carry US cash that can be stolen or lost during a drip.

Take cards like the law says, or get a grown up job.

p.s. the meter records the fare - not the tips. That's the part you are hiding, so don't think we are so stupid, okay?

Blind faith in 911 or cops is kinda crazy

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I get it. It's the law.

But honestly, you want to end your night with a 911 call to sort out a CC dispute?

Last thing I'd ever try.

Calling Pete Nice!
Can you weigh in from a cop's perspective?

You think "faith in cops" is

You think "faith in cops" is crazy, that's your prerogative. I'd suspect that the cabbie doesn't want to deal with the hassle of a 911 call, a visit from the cops and a possible suspension. I'm willing to call that bluff, especially if the cabbie is a douche about it.

Here I am.

The Hackney unit has a bunch of officers working on Fri and Sat nights. That being said, credit card issues is far down on the list of complaints they get for Hackney related issues on these nights.

Drunk patrons cause a lot of problems from fare evasions, lost/stolen property in cabs like phones, out of town cabs picking up ($500 a pop), assaults on cab drivers, assaults between passengers, passed out passengers who wake up saying they were sexually assaulted in a club and the assaulter was someone they knew and put them in a cab, medical issues, etc.

I believe the Hackney unit is more active than people realize.

I dunno, would you rather have the Hackney unit follow up with cab companies in trying to find your lost phone? Or would you rather them follow up on cabs who pretend their credit card machines aren't working? The latter is probably something that you can follow up on the next morning. Usually multiple complaints against the same driver/company is enough to fine the company. And this can be done the next day.

I have no problem following

I have no problem following up the next day, as long as the cabbie doesn't mind taking an IOU for the fare. If I have no cash, I have no cash. Pretty simple.

Leave your cel phone in a cab?

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That's your own problem, to solve when the shift ends. No reason for cops to be tracking that down when there are cabbies violating the laws right and left.