Austin cab driver fired after refusing passenger

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A taxi driver with the Austin Cab Company has been fired after a widely seen video showed the driver refusing to pick up a customer.

“I noticed something on my Facebook feed, several friends had tagged it,” Austin Cab Company Assistant Operations Manager James Means III said. “I was as shocked as many of the people watching it.”

The video has since been taken down. A passenger posted a heated disagreement with one of Austin Cab Company’s drivers on social media.

“I recognized the driver, he’s someone who’s been off and on with us for a long time,” Means said.

The driver allegedly refused to give the passenger a ride because it was only a few blocks.

“This is a pretty good example of everything that could go wrong regarding the ordinance,” Means said.

A city ordinance clearly outlines a taxicab driver may not refuse to pick up a person unless the driver already has a fare, a passenger is disorderly or is believed to be engaged in illegal activity, the driver feels his or her safety is at risk, or the passenger cannot pay the fare. Means said the driver claimed to have another call for service, but no dispatch drip was listed in the system. As a result, he was fired.

In a Facebook post, the passenger wrote he was upset and had been drinking, which is why he depended on taking a cab. He posted, in part, “We may not have ‪#Uber‬ or ‪#Lyft‬ anymore at this time, but you don’t have to settle for being mistreated or discriminated by a cab driver.”

Austin Cab Company encourages people to report these types of situation.

“Until we can look into it and determine whether or not somebody is fit to continue to drive for any taxi company in Austin, we can’t do anything. You got to help us out on this,” Means said.

KXAN asked the city for the number of complaints filed against local transportation companies. In 2015, 47 complaints were filed against cab companies in Austin. The same year, just five complaints were filed against shuttle and charter services and one against Uber. So far this year, 20 complaints have been filed against cab companies, one filed against a limo company, and none against ridesharing services at this time.

The city provided the following statement, with ways to file complaints against a taxi driver:

The City of Austin will not tolerate taxi drivers who fail to act in a professional and courteous manner. Austin Transportation Department staff supports Austin Cab in its immediate action of terminating this driver’s contract. City Code Chapter 13-2 has requirements on driver conduct, as well as restrictions on refusal to transport passengers. If people would like to file a complaint against taxi companies, they can call 512-974-1551. That number should be posted in every taxi. People may also file a complaint online, email groundtransportation@austintexas.gov, or visit the City’s Ground Transportation Division in person during normal business hours at 1111 Rio Grande Street. Austin Transportation Department staff will then work with the person filing the compliant and the taxi company to begin an investigation.”

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