Can’t Get a Cab to Brooklyn? “Destination Discrimination” Priority for TLC

We noted last October that there may be more than the usual hassle getting a cab to go from Manhattan to Brooklyn these days. According to the Times City Room Blog, the Taxi and Limousine Commission saw a 38% increase, from the last six months of 2009 to the same period in 2010, in complaints of drivers refusing, despite the requirement that they do so, to take fares to destinations within the five boroughs. The Times story quotes TLC Commissioner David Yassky, a Brooklyn Heights resident, as being “alarmed by the trend”, and supporting, along with the Bloomberg administration, increasing the penalties on drivers who refuse fares. A representative of the drivers blames the problem on economics, saying that drivers who are forced to take long trips aren’t compensated sufficiently to cover the cost of leasing their cabs, and may end a shift without making any profit.

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  • DrewB

    I haven’t really noticed a marked increase in refusing trips to Brooklyn, it has always been a problem. Though I often get arguments from cabs, particularly close to shift change, I use the following technique and usually end up with a ride.

    Don’t say where you are going until you get in the car. If they say no, refuse to get out. If they still won’t take you, pull out your cell phone and begin to call the TLC. That will usually get them moving.

    The larger problem is that if they refuse to come over here, there are less cabs to catch going over to brooklyn. I’ve noticed that a lot lately

  • Eddy de Lectron

    Another effective technique when taxis are pulling the “off duty” scam; the use your cellphone to video the hail (if your phone doesn’t have video just fake it), The’ll stop with doors locked and ask where you want to go, hold up your phone and say “I’m recording this on video” if they start to argue tell them you’ll be taking the video to 40 Rector St (address of the TLC), the’ll open the door…
    Of course you can also use the video trick if you are in the cab or you can simply say “oh you don’t want to take me there, then please take me to 40 Rector…

  • jarbro

    I have never been refused by a cab to Brooklyn. Cab comes by, open door, sit down, and say where you want to go.

    I find it amazing that people have these issues.

  • Pat McDevitt

    Got into a cab last night @ the Cooper Square Hotel – when I gave an address in Brooklyn, the cabbie pulled out his ‘map book’, thumbed through it for about 30 seconds, then told me, ‘Not sure where that is – you’re better off taking a cab that knows that area…’

    Walked back to the hotel, jumped into a second cab – this cabbie was fine.

  • Nancy

    My daughter tried to get a cab from Clinton Street to take her to the Brooklyn Museum. Cabbie said he didn’t know where that was. She said “across from Prospect Park” He said he didn’t know where that was either. She ended up late to her destination because she had to take the subway. Its prettty outrageous

  • http://AOL Sharon Bellamy

    For the past few months, when I go out either during the week or on the weekend. It has been extremely difficult to catch a cab from the Time Square area to Brooklyn, I have always either been in my business attire or well dress for an evening out. As a African American female. I have been refused to be taken home by a cab. As soon as I say Brooklyn, the cab drivers come up with every excuse in the book and it usually takes me any where from 20 minutes to an hour to get a cab home. I am extremely frustrated and believe that the highest penalties as well as suspension of their license is fair. If I don’t do my job, I will get fired, Why should there be exceptions. Keeping statistics is great, but action speaks louder than words, and in this case, cab drivers refusing to pick up customers who lives or go to Brooklyn – should feel it in their pockets.

  • Resident

    I don’t think I’ve ever been refused a cab ride from someone clearly on duty, but I do get annoyed when cab drivers pull the “I’m off duty, until I can pick someone up who’s going where I’m willing to take him” trick. I mean, I understand if it is near the typical shift change time and someone may not to pick someone up in midtown and take them to brooklyn if they have to be uptown or in LIC in 15 minutes. But when it’s just late at night and cabs are just looking to remain in bar heavy areas, or during one of the big snow storms, when they’re looking to either not go far or gouge you, it’s really annoying.

    @Sharon, if you’re having that much trouble from a cab-heavy area, you need to report them. I know it’s a pain and it takes more time out of your schedule, but if you want cab drivers to feel it in their wallet, refused passengers are the only ones that can make it happen.

  • Jorale-man

    I never take cabs from Manhattan but I do take them from the airport now and then. Almost every time, the driver seems completely confused on how to get to Brooklyn Heights, let alone my particular street. I can only imagine how difficult it is if you live beyond brownstone Brooklyn.

  • really

    Eddy…you go through all that to get a cab? video taping, threatening to call TLC? wow. Why would you want someone to drive you somewhere that doesn’t want to drive you there? Makes no sense.

  • epc

    I find taxis seem to generally know how to get to Brooklyn Heights (and increasingly DUMBO) from either LGA or JFK. Oddly that knowledge seems to disappear if the ride originates in Manhattan.

    I have found cellphone pix handy when testifying at the TLC. Kind of hard to deny your cab was at such and such a place when you have a photo of the medallion # (and increasingly the GPS coordinates).

  • Eddy de Lectron

    @ really,
    It is really not much trouble at all. Point my iphone at the cab, say a few words, in order to make the driver obey the law and take me where I want to go. Yes it is the LAW; a taxi on duty must take you wherever you want to go within city limits. A taxi off duty is not allowed to stop for a hail. Why should I care if the driver doesn’t want to take me, it’s their job.
    One of the reasons the problems is so prevalent are weak-minded people (such as yourself) that give up easily and take the abuse. If more people filed complaints against the rouge drivers, and followed through, ensuring they received a fine, the drivers would eventually get the message and comply with the law.
    I have successfully prosecuted 2 drivers so far. The cellphone trick and a few stern words are a lot easier than going to a hearing.

    Too bad If taxi drivers don’t like taking people to out of the way destinations, they can go find another job if they can’t deal with it.

  • Gerry

    When I tell the cab driver Brooklyn Heights it is NEVER a problem they can count on a $20 fare PLUS a $5 tip and most often pick up a return to Manhattan Fare if they sit on Clinton Street for a bit never a problem to get from the East Side to Brooklyn Heights I take this trip often I walk to 79 Street at the FDR Drive and most often the cab driver knows that I am going to Brooklyn Heights of way downtown to Wall Street.

  • really

    Law or no law, I’m not riding in a cab with someone who is upset about driving me somewhere…Job or no job. And congratulations on your prosecution of 2 drivers, I’m glad we have upstanding citizens like you. by the way, i’m glad you think brooklyn Heights is an out of the way destination. every train stops here. calling me weak minded is weak…your problem of not getting a cab. if that’s a problem worth being prosecuted…we are all screwed.

  • bklyn20

    I have used the trick of repeatedly speaking the cab’s TLC license number into my phone as if recording it (and sometimes actually recording it.) I have also helped African-American friends get cabs, and then held the door open for them while they get in and tell the driver their destination.

    Another friend of mine wanted to go from Manhattan to his home in Fort Greene one night after work. He had a cab driver who seemed to be taking the longest possible route, over Friend’s objections, as if to annoy him out of the cab or to gouge him on the fare.

    As they were getting off the Manhatan Bridge, Friend suddenly said, “Hey, wait a minute! Just take me to 301 Gold Street — it’s right around the corner!” When the cabbie saw that the Friend/passenger was getting out at the 84th Precinct, said cabbie sped off, my friend got a free ride, and walked the few remaining blocks home.

  • Eddy de Lectron

    I don’t think the Heights is out of the way, but it sure seems many of the cabbies do…. Yes, I know all the trains stop here, I take them regularly.

    You are weak if you are afraid to let a cab take you somewhere just because you called them out on the carpet, on the rules. What are you scared of, do you honestly think they would do something to you? You are weak because you would rather roll over and let someone walk over you, than standup for your rights.

    The last time I went to a TLC hearing; there was a blind woman, also there for a hearing, against a cabbie who refused to take her. He had sped off leaving her stranded in the middle of Lexington Avenue. She also cited several similar incidents perpetrated against her. That’s the kind of behavior you get when the laws are not adequately enforced. She thanked me for being there because I was there to help bring about change to the system. The TLC prosecutors thanked me as well, saying they need more people to file complaints, otherwise they have no way of knowing how pervasive the problem is.

    So, what may seem like a trivial matter to you may not be for others and may have real negative effects for some people.

    I believe it is the civic duty of all to help make life a little better here and look out for one another. I know there are bigger problems out there but if a problem is presented to me, I will try to be proactive as best I can to remedy it. That is what strong minded forward thinking people do.

  • really

    point taken Eddy. It;s just been the same story with cabbies forever. When I was a kid it was the same, 40 years ago it was the same, and now it’s the same. I understand if someone is being turned down for their race, physical handicap, etc, it’s wrong of course. I am just being realistic. Cabbies may not want to drive long distances when it prevents them from making more cash. It’s just a fact. A sucky fact. but a fact. It’s their job…yes. They signed up to drive people wherever they want to go…yes. But it’s not realistic. It’s a crappy fact. So for the most part I never ever have a problem with this, and when I do, I’m not riding with a person that doesn’t want to go where i ask them to go.Even if it is their job. last thing i need is unsafe driving because they are pissed off. …Now that’s being practical. I’m not dying in a car because of it. I’m done debating. thank you for fighting the good fight.

  • Leah

    It’s a quality of life issue and the small thing of being able to take a cab where you need is a big deal. They know when they become a legal cabbie that they must take customers anywhere in the 5 boroughs. It is the law. I firmly believe you do have to report them and I note the TLC number every time I get in a cab as a result of previous bad experiences. I’m a good tipper as long as my driver acts professionally so it’s definitely worth his while to take me wherever I need to go. So cab riders, don’t be stingy with the tips for the good drivers b/c helps with good relations and make sure to report the bad ones!

  • Eddy de Lectron

    Silence is really golden