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Would you be willing to hop into the back of an unmarked car in order to catch a ride home from downtown Boston?

The obvious answer is no, however that’s not to say that hundreds of local residents and visiting tourists don’t fall victim to these sorts of illegal taxi operations each and every night. Known as gypsy taxis, these unlicensed transportation services have become a major issue in Massachusetts, prompting police crackdowns all over the state.

As one of our Boston car rental clients, we feel that it’s important to notify you of this growing concern in our community. The following information is designed to better educate you on the dangers of gypsy taxis, and provide you with the tools you need to identify and report these illegal operators to the proper authorities.

New Regulations

Catching an illegal ride home isn’t as easy as it used to be in one Massachusetts community, thanks to the introduction of new regulations. Before last month, the community of Westborough had no regulations governing the vehicles and employees involved with a business that offered vehicles for hire. This all changed with newly approved guidelines introduced standards to which police and the Board of Selectman can hold taxi operators accountable to. Approved on October 1, the regulations give police the power to prosecute any illegitimate operation, creating a new forum for any potential violations.

These new regulations are more in line with other standards throughout the state. In most cases, companies that receive taxi permits are required to have their drivers reviewed by the local police department. Vehicles are also subject to a safety check and proof of insurance must be supplied before the company can legally begin offering rides. Some Massachusetts communities will also perform a Criminal Offender Record Information check, however this is not a standard procedure.

Scary Situations

There are many reasons why taxicab operators require strict regulations. Public safety is obviously the number one concern. Just this summer, a woman reported being raped by the driver of taxi that was not properly licensed. Gypsy taxis also give legal operators a bad name, and threaten their ability to operate. This is because gypsy taxis don’t pay excise or property taxes. They also don’t operate by accepted dispatch rules. While Boston car rental travelers can often hail a cab from the sidewalk, Most MetroWest towns don’t permit impromptu fare pickups. Riders are required to contact the dispatch center and request a ride.

How to Spot a Gypsy Cab

Spotting a gypsy cab is relatively easy. First, they’re unmarked vehicles. As such, they won’t have any visible licensing on the exterior of the vehicle. In most Massachusetts communities, taxis are required to be “conspicuously marked along the exterior.” A driver’s hackney license must also be displayed in “characters not less than 3-inches in size.” What’s more, they likely won’t have the proper apparatus inside the vehicle to calculate your fare. Since they don’t have meters, the fair is usually agreed to at the beginning of the ride; however, there’s no promise that this is what the rate will be once your arrive at your destination.

Boston car rental companies are likely to spot illegal cabs cruising residential streets of a larger city. They can also be found waiting at locations where taxi service is in demand (airports or train stations), however this is a far riskier approach.

If you’ve decided to leave your Boston car rental at home for the night and need to catch a ride in a cab, be cautious before hopping into the backseat of an unmarked vehicle. Worse comes to worse, you can always ask the driver to show you his or her paperwork.

Protect Yourself

It’s terrible to think that something like this is happening on the streets of our city. However, here at VERC, we can’t turn a blind eye to this sort of extortion and abuse of power. This is why we must do our part to help ensure safe transportation in the Greater Boston Area. This is why we want to remind all of our Boston car rental customers to never hail or get into any vehicle on the street that is not clearly marked and licensed as a taxicab. Doing so is unsafe, not just for you, but it also puts other motorists in danger.

Boston car rental travelers who are solicited by illegal taxi operators should immediately report violators to their local police department. This will help police crack down on the issue and remove dangerous drivers from the streets of Boston.

The easiest way to avoid an illegal taxi in Boston? Reserve one of our Boston car rentals and conquer the commute on your own. Our vehicles are safe, affordable, clean and legal. Protect yourself and your passengers – call 1-800-696-83721-800-696-8372 to book your Boston car rental today.

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