The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission will try and revoke the licenses of 633 drivers for routinely overcharging customers as part of a scheme that cost passengers $1.1 million, it was announced on Friday.
The commission had previously accused about 35,000 taxi drivers of overcharging riders, costing passengers a total of $8.3 million. The number of suspected drivers was subsequently reduced. New figures released on Friday show that, in all, 21,819 drivers overcharged passengers a total of 286,000 times, the commission said.
Of those, the majority — 13,315 — only overcharged riders once or twice.
But a nucleus of 633 drivers did much of the stealing, overcharging riders 50 or more times by activating a switch that charged them out-of-town rates. It is those drivers who will likely lose their licenses.
David Yassky, chairman of the commission, said in a statement that criminal charges could be possible for the most egregious offenders. He said the offending drivers used the switch as a means of “surreptitiously padding their pockets and taking advantage of a trusting public.”
“We will be taking appropriate actions to see that these drivers do not again have the opportunity to betray their passengers and their fellow drivers,” Mr. Yassky said.
The case has been referred to the city’s Department of Investigation and the office of the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.
James Vacca, a member of the City Council who represents the Bronx and chairs the transportation committee, said in a statement Friday there was reason for anger even if the number of offenders was smaller than previously thought.
“Riders have a right to pay the appropriate fare and not a penny more,” Mr. Vacca said. “While the number of cabbies accused of repeated overcharging is relatively small, that in no way limits how outraged we should be by those who nickel-and-dimed riders.”