Vacca Sponsoring Bill To Raise Taxi Driver Fines

Councilman Jimmy Vacca is making sure that New York City cabs are not refusing to take fares to the outer boroughs.

For years, Bronxites in Manhattan have struggled to find a cab to take them home.

On Sunday, March 6, now 23-year-old Morris Park civil engineer Anthony Loreto was struck by a taxi in front of the 18th Precinct in Manhattan after the driver of the cab refused to take him and his three friends to the Bronx.

Loreto suffered critical head and right leg injuries and was sent to New York Presbyterian Hospital where he is recuperating.

Councilman Vacca, who is also chair of the Committee on Transportation, was outraged by the incident and has since sought a way to stop taxi drivers from refusing to take a fare to the outer boroughs once and for all.

On Wednesday, April 27, the Committee on Transportation held a hearing to discuss a new bill sponsored by Vacca that will increase the penalties for taxi drivers for this abuse.

“First of all, refusing to take a passenger to an outer borough is illegal and has always been illegal,” Vacca said. “This is predominantly a problem in Manhattan and for years I have heard of people being denied transportation to the Bronx or other location. What happened to Anthony Loreto was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Should Vacca’s proposed bill be approved, it would raise the maximum fine for first, second and third offenses from $350 to $500, $500 to $1,000, anda license revocation, along with a maximum $1,000 fine, respectively.

“We are a city of five boroughs and it doesn’t matter which borough you are coming from or which borough you’re going to,” said Mayor Bloomberg after the incident in March. “If you want to hail a cab, drivers are required by law to take you to any destination in the city. Period. End of story.”

Within the next 60 days, the Committee on Transportation will vote on the bill and will be followed by a full City Council vote. If it passes the council, Mayor Bloomberg is expected to give it his signature.

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