The Taxi and Limousine Commission in fiscal year 2013 issued nearly 22,000 "data-generated" summonses alleging drivers committed offenses like overcharging passengers and driving with a suspended hack license, officials said.
That's up from approximately 300 such tickets issued just four years ago - a 7,233% jump - officials said.
Taxi drivers vehemently opposed the mandatory installation of GPS and credit-card payment systems before settling a lawsuit in 2008.
"We always knew the GPS would be used to persecute drivers," Bill Lindauer, an organizer with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, griped after the data was released at a TLC meeting.
Cabbie Abid Hussein, 47, said drivers are being buried in summonses.
"Too many tickets," he said. "Always, too many tickets. It's hard to make a living."
The TLC has been refining and upgrading its "data mining" capabilities in recent years, assistant TLC commissioner Sherry Cohen said. It's much easier, for example, to pinpoint and prove instances of cabbies making trips without required E-ZPass tags, denying passengers toll discounts, Cohen said.
Rider complaints, meanwhile, are much more likely to result in disciplinary action because of unrelated improvements in how the TLC prosecutes passenger-generated cases, officials said.
Passengers made approximately 17,000 complaints against cabbies in fiscal year 2013. Penalties were imposed in about 7,000 of the cases, officials said.
That's also light years beyond enforcement four years ago. Only 731 of the more than 18,000 complaints in fiscal year 2009 ended with drivers being found guilty or reaching a settlement with administrative prosecutors, officials said.
Officials described an overly bureaucratic process that was "broken" and had to be reconfigured. It could take up to 18 months for a TLC staffer to talk directly to a passenger who lodged a complaint. Nearly 70% of cases were dismissed.
The TLC increased staffing, began calling all complainants within a few weeks and began extending settlement offers to drivers, Cohen said.
"Of all of the things we have done the last few years, this is as important as anything, ensuring passengers are taken care of and that they feel taken care of," TLC Chairman David Yassky said.
[NY Daily News Report]