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Felonies coming for fare evaders?

Stiffing cab drivers may no longer be tolerated in Boston.

Stiffing cab drivers may no longer be tolerated in Boston.

The City Council passed a home rule petition yesterday to make taxicab fare evasion a felony. It would be punishable by a $100 fine or up to six months in jail.

“Fare evasion is a different form of armed robbery in my opinion, or robbery,” City Councilor Rob Consalvo said. “There’s no law on that and it’s very hard for the police to prosecute on it. So they’ve asked for the tools.”

Consalvo originally filed the petition in December 2009 but the measure stalled on Beacon Hill.

“Part of the reason the Legislature didn’t pass it is we came in the end of a session,” Consalvo said. “Now it’s the start of the session, that’s why I’m re-filing it.”

Consalvo also thinks the Legislature should incorporate this statewide.

“At the end of the day these fares are the life blood of drivers,” he said.

The average fare is about $17 and most cabbies are stiffed about three times a week, Consalvo estimated.

“It’s kind of like a nuisance crime,” Top Cab owner John Ford said.

“It’s small enough where you don’t want to spend the whole day in court, but it eats into your income.”

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