FOX 8 Defenders: Taxicab ride refusals - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

FOX 8 Defenders: Taxicab ride refusals

"The city law mandates that a taxicab driver take a passenger wherever they request within 10 miles of the city's boundaries." (FOX 8 Photo) "The city law mandates that a taxicab driver take a passenger wherever they request within 10 miles of the city's boundaries." (FOX 8 Photo)
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

A fun night out on the town ended abruptly when a woman tried to hail a cab home in New Orleans. Locals and visitors complain it's an ongoing concern when some taxi drivers refuse to take you to your destination.

When country music star Garth Brooks returned to Louisiana for the first time in nearly two decades this summer, Meredith Dickey was among the crowd of ecstatic fans at a sold out show at the Smoothie King Center. 

"We were super excited! We never saw Garth Brooks live," Dickey said. She remembers that night well. It was her birthday weekend. 

"We knew we didn't want to drive so we got a friend to drop us off downtown," Dickey said. 

Dickey, a FOX 8 employee, said when it was time to head home, her fun night out celebrating took a frustrating turn when she and her boyfriend hailed a Yellow Cab. 

"Once the cab picked us up, we were on Poydras and Carondelet and got in the vehicle with him, and he started heading toward the Interstate, and once we told him where we were headed to, he told us that he couldn't bring us," Dickey said.

Their destination was on the West bank in Old Gretna. According to Google Maps, it would have been a 5.4 mile drive. 

"He just told us that it's too far away because it was 15 minutes away from where he was going and he had other people to pick up," Dickey said. She couldn't understand why the cabbie stopped to pick them up if he had to pick up others.

Dickey was quick thinking because before she got kicked out of the taxicab, she snapped a quick picture of the driver's permit, which had all of his important information on it so she could file a formal complaint at City Hall. She says it took a while, but a hotel bellman talked another cab driver into bringing them home.

Dickey said it wasn't the first taxicab ride she was refused and it wasn't her last. 

"I was going out to Dirty Linen. Obviously it's a crowded evening in the French Quarter," she said. "It was fairly easy to hail cabs, but none of them would take us to where we wanted to go." Again, she was trying to get a ride just a few miles away, but outside of the Downtown and French Quarter corridor.    

"Blatantly, that's against the law," said New Orleans City Councilman Jared Brossett who chairs the city transportation and airport committee. "The city law mandates that a taxicab driver take a passenger wherever they request within 10 miles of the city's boundaries."

He says concerns over service failure by taxicab drivers, refusing to take residents and visitors within those limits prompted council members to pass an ordinance earlier this year. 

"That's one of the reasons we brought in the transportation network companies we regulate such as the Uber type," Brossett said. 

New Orleans Director of Safety and Permits Jared Munster says they get a lot of complaints when there are big events such as Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest. Munster said the city relies on passengers to report concerns and provide key information, specifically the CPNC number also known as the Certificate of Public Necessity or Convenience. 

"The license plates have the CPNC number, which is going to be the same thing that's going to be on the hood and on the truck, on the fenders on both sides of the car and on the roof light," Munster said.

To file a complaint, call 311 or go to www.nola.gov.  The city says an investigator will review your formal complaint.  A violation could be issued, requiring the driver attend an administrative hearing at City Hall.  The first offense could cost up to $500.  "After three or more offenses, it's subject to suspension or revocation," Munster said. 

Meredith Dickey filed a formal complaint and hopes it sends a message. Dickey's hearing is set for Friday, Sept. 4. 

We reached out to Yellow Cab for a response. Here's the company's statement:  

"Yellow Cab is committed to customer service, and we have a zero tolerance policy for drivers who do not obey the rules.  If a customer is not satisfied with their experience, we urge them to file a complaint with the City of New Orleans Taxi Bureau, which licenses and permits the drivers- who are independent contractors. When the city notifies us of a complaint, we take action immediately. To go above and beyond what the City of New Orleans requires of us, we have created a taxi driver school to help ensure our drivers know the rules and how to provide customer service. Just like any industry, there are bad apples that should not be allowed to spoil bunch. That is why the regulations we adhere to are so important, including driver background checks, drug tests, and vehicle inspections. And vehicle identification numbers, in-vehicle security cameras, and GPS help to ensure that if an incident does occur, we can quickly root out the problem."

If you have a consumer complaint, call the FOX 8 Defenders at 1-877-670-6397, fill out our online complaint form or email us at fox8defenders@fox8live.com.

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