-By John Lynds
It’s bad enough East Boston residents have to deal with a few realities like living next to an airport or paying a toll to travel one mile into their own city without being discriminated against by Boston cabbies.
Residents have been complaining that cab drivers are frequently tacking on $4.50 – the cost of the taxi’s toll back through one of the harbor tunnels – or half of that, $2.25, to the Eastie rider’s fare.
Regulations are already in place prohibiting cab drivers from charging passengers going to residential areas of Eastie an additional fee for the tunnel toll.
That practice is explicitly forbidden in language clearly spelled out inside the cab and visible to passengers.
City Councilor Sal LaMattina and the Mayor’s Office have again notified Boston cabbies this week that they cannot charge individuals for the toll in Eastie. Cab companies will receive a copy of the Hackney code and will be told that violators are subject to discipline, Appendix IV of the Hackney Meter Rates code states that passenger shall not pay any toll from Boston proper to Eastie’s residential neighborhoods. However this does not include passengers traveling to Logan Airport.
“My office has received complaints about this, and it’s happened to me three times recently,” said LaMattina. “The law is clear, but we’ve got to get word out to the public that residents should not be charged.”
LaMattina said it occurs more at night and that any cab driver who refuses a passenger traveling from Boston to Eastie or tries to add the toll to the meter should be reported to his office or the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.
Last year, LaMattina wrote a City Council order on the issue and noted that Eastie residents have endured “the many hardships and burdens” related to having the harbor tunnels and Logan Airport in their community and that it is unacceptable that they be “required to pay more and receive inferior service” from the taxi industry.
A hearing was held and was aimed at educating passengers, as well as cab drivers, about the rights of riders. The hearing also address the scarcity of cabs in Eastie and the refusal of taxi service to the neighborhood – issues that the councilor has heard about from residents in the past.
“I know my rights as a passenger and all Eastie residents should know their rights,” said LaMattina. “If anyone feels threatened by a cab driver they should demand immediate drop off at District 7 Police Station on Meridian Street and report the incident.”