Everyone loves a loophole and many Boston cabbies are no exception to that rule.
Hundreds of Boston cabs cruising through East Boston everyday charge their fares the standard rate of $5.25 which is supposed to include the price of a ride through the tunnel to get to the airport and a return ride through the tunnel to go back to Boston.
Hundreds of cabbies everyday are coming to the airport through the tunnel but fail to return through the tunnel and pocket the difference.
Instead of going back to Boston using the tunnel, they avoid the tunnel to make a quick $2.60 cruising through East Boston, into Chelsea and then through Everett into Boston.
There are no numbers available on exactly how many cabbies a day are doing this – but it is estimated in the hundreds.
Because of this, hundreds of cabs are crowding the already congested streets of Eastie on a daily basis. Cabbie supporters like R.F. Turner of the Taxi Drivers Carriage News who writes a column for the newspaper called the ‘Driver’s Side’ seems to be fine with the practice.
Now, police from District 7 assigned to East Boston traffic duty are cracking down and. according to Turner, writing tickets for ‘Fast Lane Evasion’ to cabbies. Turner points out that six cabbies were recently pulled over for the practice before crossing the Meridian Street Bridge into Chelsea.
While Turner argues that Boston Police have no jurisdiction over the tunnels and tolls and that there’s nothing wrong with a cabbie taking the longest route back to Boston.
Turner wrote that it was none of the officer’s business what the cabbies do and had ‘no reason’ to stop the cabbies.
However many in Eastie strongly disagree because they are overcharging their passengers and adding to the congestion of the neighborhood with this practice.
Monday the traffic light at the corner of Meridian and White Streets looked more like the taxi pool lane at Logan Airport than a neighborhood street.
Taxis were lined up at the red light as far as the eye could see. During a 20 minute span this reporter counted at least 50-60 cabs fly down Meridian Street on their way to Chelsea and the free Route 99 shortcut back to Boston.
If that’s any gauge of a regular day, living on Meridian Street must be hellish.
“It’s all day long,” said one Meridian Street resident named Moses. Moses said night and day, day and night taxis head from the airport to Chelsea.
“There’s definitely more traffic, more accidents, more pollution on the account of these taxis,” he said.
City Councilor Sal LaMattina said it’s just an example of how the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority’s toll hikes really work.
“The more and more they raise the tolls, the more and more cabbies and other motorists are going to find ways to beat the system,” said LaMattina. “But its always Eastie and our residents that have to suffer the additional traffic and pollution. Something needs to be done about this.”
LaMattina and the Boston Hackney Division both said that if a cabbie takes the $2.75 for the return trip they are technically supposed to go back to Boston through the tunnel–provided they didn’t pick up another fare.
“There’s no way to regulate it,” said someone who answered the phone at Boston’s Hackney Division.
That’s a good answer. The gentleman also said that cabbies will always find ways to get out of paying tolls–even if it means crowding neighborhood streets.
“Look man, these guys are not going to pay $5.25 or $2.60 out of their own pocket each time they go through the tunnel,” said the Hackney official.
Well, isn’t that the cost of doing business in the City?
So instead of paying $2.60 (because remember they get half of the return toll from their fare) they are making an additional $2.60 every time they come to Eastie and then cut down Meridian and over to Route 99.
Sounds like a sweet deal.
Something needs to be done to better regulate this because Eastie suffers enough.
An officer at District 7 said that the Boston Police is working with Boston’s Hackney Division to stomp out the practice of evading the return toll.
“Hackney and the Boston Police are well aware of the practice and we are working out the legality of the issue,” he said.
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