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Card-hating cabbies, you’re being watched

Jeremy Simon

A new initiative in New York City aims to curb cabbies who refuse to take credit cards, choose to yammer away on a cell phone while driving and decide to overlook traffic laws, reports the United Kingdom’s Telegraph.

“Since last week, between 60 and 100 inspectors from the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) have been posing as ordinary passengers in some of the city’s 13,000 cabs,” the Telegraph writes, with the undercover operation specifically targeting the activities listed above.

Reports by various publications and even anecdotal stories suggest that taxi drivers are pretty resistant to credit card payments. While it’s been a few years, it was rare for me to hop in a taxi back in New York and not find the driver engaged in a conversation via an earpiece connected to his cell phone. As for traffic laws, I was pretty convinced that yellow taxis were not bound by them (sometimes even calling the laws of physics into question, as well).

Although the New York Taxi Workers Alliance has hit back, labeling the investigation “sneaky and underhand” (in that language, according to the Telegraph), what this means for riders remains uncertain. Cabbies could decide to avoid the prohibited behaviors out of fear that their fare could be an undercover operative. Or they could decide to continue flouting the rules.

Separately, following a report by The New York Sun, Verifone (which supplies cab payment technology as one of three vendors approved by the Taxi and Limousine Commission) changed its security policy to prevent cabbies from accessing unencrypted credit card numbers and expiration dates from a log of their card transactions.

Who have our New York readers been encountering when they get in a cab recently — plastic-friendly, earpiece-free, law-abiders or their law-breaking brethren?

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