Taken for a ride?

Oak Lawn man says cab drivers were taking advantage of people looking for rides home after Halloween block party

Taxi

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

An Oak Lawn man this week said that taxi drivers at the Halloween Block Party on Cedar Springs Saturday, Oct 29, tried to take him for a ride — but not to where he wanted to go.

Michael Truan and his partner live near the intersection of Maple and Inwood avenues. When the two decided to go to the Halloween Block Party on Cedar Springs on Saturday night, they knew they would be drinking, Truan said, so they decided to do the responsible thing and take a cab to and from the party.

“I usually do take a cab when I go out. I don’t want to drink and drive and get in trouble with the cops, or worse, end up hurting myself or somebody else,” Truan said. “Plus, taking a cab means you don’t have to bother with trying to find a parking place.”

That, and the fact that Truan is a flight attendant, means that he is familiar with taxi cabs.

The fare was $12, and he tipped the driver another $2 for a $14 total. Truan said the driver was friendly and courteous and the trip quick and hassle free — the kind of service he has come to expect from Yellow Cab, the company he always uses.

But when it came time to go home, it was another story altogether.

Truan said about 1:30 a.m., he and his partner decided to leave and walked down the block to the area between ilume and Kroger where cabs were lined up, waiting for fares. He approached the first cab in line, and when he told the driver where he wanted to go, the driver quoted him a flate rate fee of $30.

Angry that the driver was trying to charge him more than twice what the trip to the party had cost, Truan approached the second driver in line, who said it would cost $25, again more than twice the original fare.

The third driver wanted even more — $40 — and the fourth driver in line said he wasn’t allowed to let fares “jump the line.”

Truan said he and his partner finally ended up just walking the nearly two miles home, through a neighborhood not considered to be all that safe for a 2 a.m. stroll.

“I was wearing high-heeled boots, and let me tell you, those boots were not made for walking!” Truan said.

The next day, Truan said, he called Yellow Cab and spoke with a supervisor, who was “sincerely apologetic” and said drivers were supposed to only work “on the meter.” He said he also intended to contact Dallas City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, in whose district he lives.

When Dallas Voice contacted Yellow Cab for comments, however, the supervisor who answered said that drivers are allowed to “go off the meter,” but wouldn’t comment further.

“If you’re a newspaper, we don’t speak to you guys unless you want to hire a cab,” the female supervisor said. “We don’t deal with you guys.”

But Gary Titlow with the city of Dallas’ public works and transportation department was willing to talk, and his version of what is allowed was a but different.

“They aren’t allowed to do that,” he said of the taxi drivers’ Saturday night fee offers. “The only flat rates allowed are the ones outlined in the city code, and even then, the drivers are supposed to have the meters running.”

The only times drivers are allowed to offer a flat rate fare, according to the city code, are when they are taking passengers from the Dallas Central Business District or the Market Center area to either Dallas Love Field Airport or DFW International Airport, or from one of the airports to the Central Business District or the Market Center area.

The flat rate from the business district or Market Center area to Love Field is $18; the flat rate from Love Field to either of those areas is $15. The flat rate to or from the Central Business District for DFW International trips is $40, and the rate to or from the Market Center area is $32.

City code also allows drivers to offer a discounted rate or charge as long as the driver and the passenger agree in advance and as long as the discounted rate is less than the regular fee.

Titlow also said he would be contacting Yellow Cab officials, and that he was “really surprised” to hear such a complaint about Yellow Cab drivers.
Truan said he was also surprised at what happened.

“I use Yellow Cab all the time, and I have never had a problem with them, but if this happens often, then this crap really needs to stop,” Truan said. “We put a lot of money into this area, and to have those cab drivers try to take us for a ride like that — no pun intended — it’s just not right. I think it’s really B.S. I hope no one else fell for it, but I am sure some people did.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas