Hitching a cheap ride could come at a greater price than advertised, city officials said Thursday, warning rogue cabbies-at-large and their customers are in the bylaw radar this holiday season.
Though unlicensed cabbies may offer rides at reduced rates, their cars aren’t required for inspection to meet city standards and often don’t have taxi insurance required to keep passengers financially protected in the event of an injury collision, city livery officer Phil Fearon said Thursday.
A rogue cabbie was busted by bylaw officers Wednesday driving a Chevy Nova over 30 years old, Fearon said.
“This car looked like it was falling to pieces, and this man was charging people to drive around the city.”
Edmonton is the only municipality in the area that has strict control and regulations for taxis, including controlled fares and licensing.
“There are people who are cheating or beating the system by starting a taxi operation up in one of the surrounding municipal districts, as well,” Fearon said.
Cabbies from neighbouring cities and towns can legally drop passengers off within city limits, but are prohibited from pickups.
Officials routinely conduct sting operations on cabbies operating outside city guidelines, he added.
Licenced cab drivers are fuming at renegade operators, Fearon said, adding his department constantly fields complaints from drivers sick of being taken out-of-pocket.
“The rogue operators are putting themselves in personal jeopardy. I wouldn’t want to be one of them standing beside my car by a pub on Whyte Avenue when three licensed operators show up.”
Roughly 900 tickets were handed out to “bandit taxis” in 2009.
Over 200 tickets were given to those driving unlicensed taxis, subject to a $1,000 fine.