JERSEY CITY - Jersey City's taxi monitor is issuing fines to cabbies after reports and evidence of price gouging. Some cab drivers, particularly ones who service the taxi stand at Journal Square, have been caught not using their meters and instead trying to set their own fares - a practice which is illegal, according to officials with the Department of Housing, Economic Development, and Commerce. Ever since last week's storm flooded the PATH train system, Northern New Jersey commuters who rely on public transportation have had limited options available to them. The PATH system remains suspended until further notice. NJ Transit is running its Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, rail, and buses, but with modified service. Some cab drivers seem prepared to take advantage of the situation.
A taxi monitor assigned to the Journal Square taxi stand said Sunday night, "I'm here telling them they must use their meters. If they don't, it's a $1,200 fine. Problem is, whenever I'm not standing here, a lot of them won't turn the meters on." He said he told one driver he had to use his meter but then caught that same driver not using his meter just 10 minutes later. Some drivers, he said, have been told by their cab owners not to use their meters and to charge customers flat fees for trips. Some flat fees can be almost double the price of a metered trip.
On Saturday, the Reporter caught one driver trying to charge two customers $65 to go from Journal Square to Newark Penn Station. When those customers refused to pay the fare, this same driver tried to charge the Reporter $45 to travel from Journal Square to Country Village. This trip, taken with a different driver who used a meter, ended up costing $19.
New Jersey is asking residents who suspect price gouging to report it to the state Division of Consumer Affairs at (800) 242-5846. The Jersey City Department of Housing, Economic Development, and Commerce can be reached at (201) 200-0677. - E. Assata Wright