The council this week agreed to schedule a hearing on whether forcing Boston cabs to be equipped with credit-card machines last year is hurting individual drivers.
Hackneyed Sojourn recalls the days when he drove a cab for Town Taxi, the preferred coach of the moneyed classes on Beacon Hill:
The Channel 25 anchor/reporter learns first hand that 1:30 a.m. is not a good time for getting a cab in the Financial District.
SuperMark reports that when his cab driver told him after an $18 ride that his cab's credit-card reader was broken, he told the guy he only had $8 on him and that he was breaking the law by driving around with a busted reader. Miraculously, the cab driver managed to get the reader to work.
They're breaking the law. Channel 4 reports that under city regulations, cabbies with broken credit-card readers aren't supposed to be driving around at all.
A federal judge has overruled Boston - and his ten-year-old grandson - and said federal law prohibits the city from forcing cab owners to buy hybrid vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Herald reports cabbies are largely ignoring a city ordinance that bans them from using cell phones while driving.
The Hack reports that foreign riders are the worst but that everybody seems to be tipping less these days:
... I recently had one guy who had a $6.25 fare, handed me a $100 bill and then got ticked off that I didn't have the coin on hand so he could leave me a fifty-cent tip. Instead, I got bupkus.
Johnathan King reports that on a trip back from Logan yesterday, he rode in a cab that was actually equipped with a credit-card machine (whadaya know, city regulations actually work). Only when he got to the end of his ride, the driver told him the reader, which spent the entire trip displaying pretty pictures and information from Boston Police, "isn't actually up and running yet."
... "Cab Ten-Twenty-One, do you know where you are? The customer is waiting!"
This must be 1021's first night on the job. After getting hired, all newbies are supposed to ride around with an experienced driver for a couple nights in order to learn the ropes. But it seems 1021 either lied, telling the owner he already had experience, or that somehow he fell through the cracks and was inadvertently sent out onto the streets cold. That or he is just a really, really slow learner.
"Cab Ten-Twenty-One, do you have a GPS?... Yes? Well, USE IT!" ...
Now cab drivers are pissed that the mean city is going to make them accept credit cards. Next up: Cabbies complain about the new regulation that makes them wear clean clothes.
The Globe reports at-large Councilor Stephen Murphy wants a six-month moratorium on medallion transfers while and the rest of the council consider the city's new tax regs, which require cabs to be hybrids by 2015 and which require cab owners to ensure their vehicles - and drivers - are actually clean.
A group of Boston cab owners has sued the city over its requirement that all cabs be hybrids by 2015, charging the requirement to buy only new hybrids would put them out of business and violates federal clean-air and car-mileage laws.
The cabbies, who say they collectively own 8% of the city's current fleet, say they are not opposed to hybrids in general, but that forcing them to buy only new vehicles, rather than letting them buy used ones - or conventional cars with nearly as good fuel efficiency - will make it economically unfeasible for them to continue driving. Also, federal clean-air and fuel-economy laws bar states or cities from requiring tougher regulations, they charge.
The Outraged Liberal's been wondering about that:
Now that gasoline prices have plummeted, shouldn't Boston taxi fares do the same? Yeah, I know, pretty stupid. Too much tryptophan-induced delirium I guess. But at the very least, shouldn't the increased rates only apply to cabs that don't have a "Check Engine" light illuminating the dashboard? ...
Boston today approved higher fares for local cabs - but at a price: In addition to allowing rates to go up (from $13.95 to $16.20 for a five-mile ride), Mayor Tom Menino and Police Commissioner Ed Davis announced a series of new regulations aimed at making local cabs - and their drivers - cleaner and safer.
By 2015, all Boston cab drivers will have to convert their vehicles to hybrids. More immediately, a series of new measures aimed at cleaning up the soiled reputations of local cabs goes into effect Jan. 1, 2009, including:
- Cabbies will be required to accept credit cards.
- Cabs must be clean "at all times" - washed and vacuumed at least once a day.
- Same goes for drivers, who will no longer be allowed to wear T-shirts (clean or not) or any sort of ripped apparel or apparel bearing offensive words or logos. Swimsuits, jogging suits, tank tops and gym shorts are right out.
- Drivers will no longer be allowed to talk on cell phones while driving.
- Owners have to install roof lights that indicate whether a cab is available or not and prominently display fare information in the passenger area.
"Today's announcement underscores our commitment to ensuring that Boston residents, members of the business community and our many tourists are provided with safe, clean and efficient taxi service," Davis, whose Hackney Carriage Unit oversees Boston cabs, said in a statement. "The implementation and strict enforcement of these improvements will significantly enhance our local taxi service and provide a more customer-friendly experience."
Menino said requiring hybrid cabs would lead to cleaner air, reduce gas costs for drivers and improve service for customers.
Fabulously Out There had just an absolutely swell time getting home to East Boston after taking in a movie at the Loews on Tremont Street, what with the cabbie refusing to take her unless she paid for his tolls on the way back:
... So I did what my East Boston cab drivers told me to do and started looking for his cab license number.
"Where is your license number," I said.
"Your license number. Your cab number. Where is it?"
"Because you are NOT supposed to charge me for the tolls and I want the number so I can call Hackney." ...
With a special sad coda.
If Boston cab-fleet owners want fare increases, they should be forced to clean up their acts, City Council President Maureen Feeney says in a letter to Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who oversees taxi fares in Boston.
The taxicab industry has been described as "sharecropping on wheels" with drivers forced to pay thousands of dollars in fees before they can earn any salary. This system penalizes both drivers and passengers. It is time for a comprehensive look at our taxi cab system in Boston. I ask you to strongly consider establishing a commission to review the taxi cab industry in Boston and recommend reforms to address the serious concerns raised both by passengers and by drivers.
My office has received several reports of illegal and out-of-town cabs operating in Boston, and of illegal kickbacks from hotel doormen to livery services. Taxi cab drivers face serious challenges and, in addition to your hearing today, I hope you will continue to work with them to address these issues. ...
ChezNiki explains how she just hates how there's no way to get from Logan to anywhere else by public transit in the wee hours, like, say, when her plane gets in. She posts a copy of a text message she sent a friend about her ride home to the West End recently: