During an administrative court hearing, 49-year-old Joseph Kastner, arrested in September for allegedly cheating 3,925 unwitting passengers out of $7,756, shared a scary industry secret with the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the Post reports today. According to Kastner, some (though definitely not most) cabbies hold actual meet-ups at cab garages to exchange tips on taking money from unsuspecting passengers. Incidentally, Joseph Kastner actually appeared on the HBO series Taxicab Confessions in 1995, we discovered, so maybe he's a little hammy.
In any case, the TLC is skeptical: "There are 49,000 licensed cab drivers in New York City, and while there may be a few who try to beat the system, the overwhelming vast majority are honest, hardworking individuals," TLC Chairman David Yassky said, dismissing the claim because he couldn't pin down the actual garage the alleged meetings are held at. But, "other cabbies and industry insiders, however, don't doubt Kastner's claims," the paper reports. So, according to the Post, here are some garage meet-up tricks of the trade:
Charging for turning on the heat.
Posing as a livery driver at airports and charging more than double the flat fee of $45 to Manhattan, or taking circuitous routes to destinations.
Setting meters at Rate Code 5 (supposed to be used only for trips to Suffolk County, north of Westchester, and New Jersey) and charging whatever they want.
Setting meters at Rate Code 4 (supposed to be used only for trips to Westchester and Nassau counties) and charging double the normal fare.
Adding a bridge or tunnel toll charge for non-toll trips by pushing the “extra” button on the meter.
Most cab drivers don't do things like this, and most New Yorkers would probably not fall for these tricks. But, like on subways, if you see something, um, say something. And get out. Or just walk.