Connecticut Taxis Have Unusually High Crash Rates

December 11, 2008

A report says Connecticut’s taxi industry has unusually high crash rates, inconsistent inspection standards and unpredictable fares.

The legislature’s Program Review & Investigations Committee report concluded that the taxi crash rate in the state is quadruple that of passenger vehicles.

The report also says fares vary by location, and that the state has not dedicated enough resources to overseeing Connecticut’s 105 licensed taxi companies.

The report said state officials at two train stations and Bradley International Airport found problems with 41 of 43 cabs during a recent inspection.

The committee advises lawmakers to ask the General Assembly in its next session to boost unannounced inspections; require annual inspections of all taxicabs by dealers and repairers; and have independent garages inspected by state transportation officials if they seem to fail fewer taxis than the norm.

Democratic state Sens. Martin Looney of New Haven and Edward Meyer of Guilford said Tuesday that better oversight and more competition would improve taxi rates, service and working conditions.

“The Program Review & Investigations Committee has provided a roadmap for reform,” Meyer said. “Their recommendation should be taken seriously as we look to improve service and safety for customers and workers.”

William Scalzi, owner of New Haven-based Metro Taxi and a member of the Connecticut Taxi Legislative Review Committee, said Tuesday that the industry is committed to safety and reliability.

The industry also strives to be “state of the art, customer-oriented and adaptable to changing consumer and economic demands,” he said in a statement.

“The committee’s findings attest to our relentless effort to aspire to these goals,” he said. “Today’s report is another indication of the desire of all concerned parties to work constructively together to achieve what’s best for Connecticut and, as a result, obtain positive results.”

The study was launched after several people in greater New Haven complained to lawmakers about prices and consistency in taxi service, prompting state officials to question whether the state’s taxi and livery services were adequately regulated.

Many cab drivers also have urged lawmakers to allow more competition, saying they are upset about paying tens of thousands of dollars to taxicab companies for leasing fees, in addition to maintenance and gas prices.

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