Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Taxi Towing Penalty Passes

2009 - Out-of-town taxis waiting for fares

An eight-year battle between city-licensed and outside taxis went to DEFCON 1 Monday with a towing penalty added to an already stringent schedule of fines.

The City Council vote for final passage of the towing penalty was 5-2, with Barry Goode, Joylette Mills-Ransome, Cory Storch, Charles McRae and Council President Rebecca Williams voting "yes" and Bridget Rivers and Diane Toliver voting "no." Rivers and Toliver sympathized with North Plainfield taxi owners and staff who said they live in Plainfield and the penalty would take bread out of their children's mouths. 

More than a dozen people spoke before the vote, rehashing arguments for and against the penalty. Some said customers deserved to choose any taxi they wanted, while others said the outside competition was harming those who played by Plainfield's rules.

City taxi companies must submit to inspections, carry specific amounts of insurance, pay for Plainfield licenses and meet many other standards. Fleet owners initially won City Council support for fines on out-of-town taxis, then for harsher fines and now for allowing police to order towing of outside taxis, with owners liable for towing and storage costs.

"The owners have complied," a dispatcher for Liberty Taxi said Monday.

He said drivers once made $80 to $100 per shift, but taxis not licensed in Plainfield are causing that "river of revenue" to dry up.

But a dispatcher for Soria Taxi of North Plainfield said, "We want justice," and claimed Soria had the "right to work in Plainfield."

"I live in Plainfield and I have the right to work in Plainfield," he said. "I beg for your help."

In opposition, a Plainfield taxi employee said the outside companies are out "not only to share the market, but to snatch it." 

A representative of Queen City Yellow Taxi told the council, "We're being invaded."

In 2009, fines for outside taxis soliciting fares ranged from $300 for a first offense to $800 for a third offense. In 2014, fines increased to a maximum of $2,000. Still, there was a perception that business was so lucrative that the outside companies considered even high fines just another cost of doing business, hence the towing penalty.

Opponents of adding the towing penalty raised the specter of a family or elderly person and all their groceries being dumped out if a police officer ordered a taxi to be towed. Increased fear of deportation under President Donald Trump's crackdown on immigrants added to the fear of getting stranded.

The ordinance will take effect in 20 days.



  1. Can only Plainfield residents shovel and plow Plainfield snow. Free enterprise yeah right. Just got to pay to play somebody should've told mr.soria that sad truth.

  2. Can anyone clarify what is permitted and what is not permitted regarding the "Taxi Law"? Can a Plainfield resident legally call a car service from another community to come an pick him up to go to a, within or without, of Plainfield location? Is Uber licensed? What are the Uber prerogatives? Can we use Uber? If a resident is returning from out of town in an out of town livery what legal prerogatives do the police have to stop the car and make enquiries? In other words how is the law uniformly applied? Does the Law apply to all out of town taxis or only North Plainfield? The only thing I share with the legal profession, and our Judiciary, is a failure to understand the Law. If the Law were unambiguous there would be no need for a great deal of the activity prevalent in the Courts. A great many in our zealous sue anybody, sue everybody, no statutory limits legal profession would be unemployed. Are the only cabs that will be stopped cabs which are known to be domiciled in North Plainfield? Do the police ask the passenger where he was picked up? If the passenger doesn't speak English, and the cop doesn't speak the passenger's language, or trust the drivers response, can the police hold the cab and passenger pending the arrival of an interpreter? How is the interpreter summoned, and who pays for his service? If the cab is impounded and the driver left to walk home holding his newly minted summons, what happens to the passenger(s)? What happens to the little old lady, who out of misunderstanding, or conviction, refuses to exit the cab? Can she be manhandled? Since we, all of us who reside in Plainfield, are law abiding citizens will the Council who passed this law please interpret and circulate the guidelines derived from the law lest we inadvertently stray and are left walking home with our groceries in a blizzard? Bill Kruse

    1. Bill it's simple, when someone breaks the law, anyone that hinders the apprehension of the law brake is also committing a crime. Little old lady refusing to get out the cab would in essence be interfering.

    2. She's not interfering with anything. She is a docile old lady riding home. She is not interfering with the issuing of the summons, or the impounding. She is frightened and doesn't know what is happening. If she refuses to exit will she be dragged out or permitted to retain her non-interference status, remain in her seat, be driven in the cab as it is towed and deposited with the cab at where ever the cab is stored? This is of course rather ludicrous, but the many other questions posed are serious. Can you provide the answers to them. Thank you. BK

  3. Thank you City Counsel for protecting the hard working, law abiding taxi companies whose employees are having the bread of their families snatched from their mouths by Soria and Grey drivers. Soria and Grey have the N Plainfield market all to themselves, but there is none, is there?