Enforcing fare play for cabbies
By Adrian Leung
The City of London is looking to stop its cabbies from being hurt on-duty by dangerous customers.
Out of safety concerns for taxi drivers, a municipal task force has been set up to make recommendations on how cab drivers can be protected from assault and robbery. The committee, which first met last Friday, is attempting to address the concerns of drivers who worry about their safety.
"There had been a rash of incidents up until Christmas where drivers had been assaulted and robbed by passengers," said Tom Donnelly, general manager of Aboutown Transportation Ltd, a local cab company.
Alcohol-related incidents have comprised some of the concerns expressed by taxi drivers, said city councillor Megan Walker, chair of the task force. "There have been some complaints by drivers who pick up passengers at the bars who are intoxicated."
Const. Wendy McGowan of the University Police Department said an incident occurred last Saturday which involved a taxi driver and a student from an affiliated college. "The back seat of the cab was burned and there was some pushing and shoving involved," she said. "The driver was given a hard time and alcohol was involved. Charges are pending."
However, McGowan said there were no other incidents of driver assault over the last year, but there had been two incidents on campus of transportation fraud. "The issues are more about failure to pay. When alcohol or drugs are involved, individuals don't use good judgement."
One of the recommendations proposed in last Friday's meeting was to reduce the number of passengers allowed in taxis. Currently it is legal to have five people in a cab, but the proposal would limit the number to four.
Other recommendations made at the meeting included the installation of safety shields and trouble switches in the cab to protect the driver. The safety upgrading may cause the cab rates to increase in the future,Walker said. "It's too early to say [if rates will increase], there are no concrete recommendations yet."
Donnelly said another of the safety concerns is many drivers are not properly trained to deal with problem situations. "Drivers shouldn't argue with the customers," he said. "The number-1 concern is driver training."