Boston’s cabbies can be a surly lot, but consider what they endure. A Globe investigation finds a taxi trade where fleet owners get rich, drivers are frequently fleeced, and the city does little about it.
First of three parts. This article was reported by the Globe Spotlight Team: reporters Bob Hohler, Marcella Bombardieri, and Jonathan Saltzman and editor Thomas Farragher. It was written by Farragher and Hohler.
In the belly of Boston’s biggest taxi garage, cabbies shuffle toward a scratched and grimy dispatcher’s window knowing the cost of doing business. If you want to drive, especially on a busy night, you often have to pay the man a little extra to get the keys.
One by one they troop to the window, and in an exchange witnessed repeatedly by a Globe reporter who was himself newly licensed to drive, pass along a bribe and are assigned a car for a 12-hour shift.
These payments, drivers said, commonly range from $5 to $20.
It’s a small-sounding sum unless you are a cabbie struggling to get by. Or until you do the math — hundreds of cabbies, thousands of shifts each year, adding up to hundreds of thousands in illegal tribute........