Police are cracking down on the swarms of unlicensed taxi drivers who hustle passengers at New York City airports.
The crackdown is taking aim at the small army of quick-talking drivers who approach passengers as they emerge from the terminals and offer them a ride into the city for an under-the-table fare, negotiated on the spot. These trips aren't always a rip-off.
Unlicensed drivers often charge equal to, or less than, the legal flat taxi rate of $45.50 (plus tolls) for all taxi trips between Manhattan and JFK. But these unauthorized pickups can be problematic, especially when drivers come across someone who isn't familiar with the city or U.S. currency.
Port officials and prosecutors announced Tuesday that police had arrested 17 men at Kennedy International Airport in an enforcement sweep timed to coincide with a new law imposing tougher penalties on unlicensed hacks. An 18th driver was arrested at LaGuardia Airport.
Under the new state law signed last month, the drivers could face up to 90 days in jail and fines as high as $1,250. Previously, violations usually resulted in the equivalent of a traffic ticket.