Updated 12/02/2011 11:33 PM
TLC Recruits College Students In Driver Refusal Crackdown
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The Taxi and Limousine Commission has come up with a resourceful way to crack down on drivers who refuse fares.
They have recruited college students to help nab drivers who don't want to take people to their destinations.
So far, more than 360 drivers have been hit with $500 fines as a result of the stings.
Since September, the students have hailed more than 1,300 cabs with drivers refusing to take them to either Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens or Upper Manhattan about 27 percent of the time.
Earlier stings showed only a four percent refusal rate.
Some drivers who spoke with NY1 say they're being unfairly trapped, and cited several factors including traffic and safety concerns.
"That's not fair. I never refuse anybody so I don't know what they have in their mind. If somebody come in my cab and we want to go to five borough I take them," said one cab driver.
"That's the problem is this. That when you come back you don't get any fare from there and the traffic is very jammed," said another.
"At 3:30 p.m., please don't ask me to go to the Bronx or Queens, you know how a mess, the traffic," said a third.
Meantime, the Taxi Workers Alliance is slamming the TLC for using untrained students.
The agency says it decided to start using students since many drivers learned to spot the commission's usual undercover enforcement agents.
"It's not rocket science here. The idea is they hail down a taxi, if they say I'm going to Cobble Hill or Kew Gardens and the driver says no, they write down the medallion number," said TLC Commissioner David Yassky.
Those who have been left in the lurch applauded the undercover student operation.
"I hate it when cabbies try to make me feel guilty, just because I'm trying to get home," said one taxi rider.
"The sting is kind of entrapment but having been refused a ride to Williamsburg, and it's not that far, and they have to take me there, is really frustrating," said another.
The only time a driver can cherry pick passengers is on the way home to the garage at the end of their shift. Called the "going my way" rule, the TLC says it's meant to add more cabs on the road during shift changes, and allow riders to take advantage of a cabbie's drive to his final destination.