Watch out for taxi bandits, city says - Metro US

Watch out for taxi bandits, city says

When catching a lift home, make sure you are taking the right one.

The city issued a warning about bandit taxis Thursday, as more than 170 tickets have been issued so far this year.

“It’s important to use the city cabs,” said Phil Fearon, the city’s chief livery officer. “This is what I would call a crime of opportunity.”

Bandit taxis are unlicensed vehicles that tend to appear during busy times for the taxi industry.

“Bandit cabs take advantage during the holiday season,” said Balraj Manhas, president of the United Cabbies Association of Edmonton. “They put a top light or meter in any personal car and (hang out) in the entertainment district between midnight and 3 a.m., especially on weekends.”

With holiday parties every weekend to salute the festive season and university students celebrating the end of a semester, getting in an unlicensed cab is dangerous at any time, especially if you’ve been drinking and are perhaps less inhibited, officials said.

Taxis licensed by the city have a front licence place that says “Edmonton Taxi,” followed by a four-digit number starting with the letter A. The driver’s licence should be visible in the vehicle, and a company name and phone number should be on the outside of the vehicle’s doors.

When asked what he would say to those who would rather take the first ride offered than wait half an hour for a proper taxi, Fearon said it’s a tough call.

“I know people that have done that,” he said of not waiting. “It’s a very difficult call, but, think, you have no idea who that driver is.”

Last year, 210 tickets were issued to bandit taxi drivers.

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