May/June 1999, p.13

Device Could Check Speeding Taxis

Naughty cabbies jack up the fare. Worse ones endanger their riders with whiplash speeds. And the worst do both.

A new device the Taxi and Limousine Commission is installing on all new taxis has declared war on both practices, giving the TLC new ammunition against hacks who cheat their passengers and drive too fast, the New York Post reported Feb. 4.
The anti-speeding component of the software detects when a driver exceeds 65 mph, illegal in all parts of New York City. As of now, TLC Chairwoman Diane McGrath-McKechnie plans to use the speed detector to pile up extra evidence against suspected fare cheaters. In the future, however, she envisions a possible joint project with the police that would ticket speeders. T.A. suggests calibrating the devices to detect speeds over 30 mph as well, the limit on the vast majority of NYC streets.

The so-called zapper detector babysits the meter and looks for "zaps", electronic pulses that trick the meter into inflating the fare. When zapping begins, the detector stops the meter from turning until the offending pulses stop.

David Pollack of the League of Mutual Taxi Owners pronounced the new tool "fantastic", especially in its anti-speed guise. "Anyone who drives over 65 mph shouldn't be a taxi driver," he said.

After detectors become standard, sometime after tests finish in April, passengers who suspect their cabbie of zapping them ask for a receipt. If the receipt reads "Miles 2", someone's been naughty with the meter. Call 212 NYC-TAXI to file a complaint.

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