San Antonio cabbies found with weapons, getting lost

Report: Cab driver asked woman rider to lift shirt

By Brian Mylar - Anchor/Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A KSAT 12 Defenders investigation has uncovered dozens of complaints about taxi and horse carriage drivers, including one report where weapons were found.

It is no secret that taxicabs are a driving force in San Antonio, shuttling tourists and locals alike.

The industry is regulated by the city's Ground Transportation Unit, under San Antonio police, as are horse carriages and tour buses.

The Defenders found in a 16-month period at least 33 complaints had been filed against vehicles for hire.

In one complaint, a driver reportedly told a man if his wife lifted up her blouse and showed her upper body, he would not charge him for the ride.

Another report said a driver was found with a bat with a wraparound wrist band and a steak knife in the driver door panel.

Thomas LeVrier had trouble paying for a ride from downtown to the airport.

"At the Greyhound Bus Station, there were a whole line of cabs," LeVrier said. "None of them would take credit cards."

He said he also left a bag filled with valuable computer equipment in the cab he finally used and never got it back.

"Everything in the bag was worth a couple of thousand dollars," LeVrier said.

There were complaints about excessive speed and reckless driving and a number of complaints about drivers becoming lost or not knowing where they were going.

Robert Gonzales, the owner of National Cab, said recently there was a large influx of cab drivers into San Antonio.

"We have stories of customers jumping out and complaining to the (San Antonio police) bike patrol," Gonzales said.

Gonzales said many of the newer drivers do not know the city and some do not speak English.

"On a $25-run, they charge them $50 because they got lost," Gonzales said.

Now the city said that is changing.

SAPD spokesman Sgt. Javier Salazar said the test to become a cab driver is being broadened to make sure drivers are familiar with San Antonio streets, major landmarks and hot spots.

"It is a major expansion of the test and it's going into different subject matter that wasn't covered before," Salazar said.

The original test was written in 1995.

The hope is to avoid complaints like one where a woman said she paid $65 for a one-way trip of 7.66 miles where the average cost is $27.

The Defenders investigation also turned up complaints about drivers being rude and refusing to take short trips.

And there were disputes between horse carriage drivers and one complaint about the smell of horse manure.

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