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Cab experiences frustrate

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, November 8, 2005

I would like to respond to your Nov. 4 article about cab companies. I am very frustrated with the way Notre Dame students have been treated by local cab companies. In my cab-riding experiences, the prices quoted in the article were incredibly low. I have ridden with three cab companies on the list and have never been charged less than $6 per head and as much as $13 per head. I also have never ridden with a driver that let the meter run.

I hate the fact that because I am a student, many drivers take advantage of me and automatically mark up their prices when I ride with them. If the drivers wish to receive more tips as mentioned in the article, they should stop marking up their prices for students. I can guarantee that I will never tip a driver who has cheated me because the way I see it, I have already given him a tip whether I wanted to or not.

I am also concerned with the way drivers treat students. My first truly bad experience was with Michiana Taxi, the company mentioned in your article. The driver tried to persuade two more students to squeeze into a van with six students in it. When I protested because there weren’t enough seatbelts for eight passengers, the driver responded that 90 percent of ND students don’t care about seatbelts, especially when we’re drunk. So I told him that he still couldn’t have that many people in the cab because it endangers our safety. He gave in and drove us home and dropped me off last. After I paid him, he condescendingly told me that I was lucky that he was a nice guy because any other cab driver would have kicked me out of the cab for giving him lip about the seatbelts like that. He then called me a b—- and drove off. I went inside my apartment and called Michiana Taxi’s number. The dispatcher hung up on me a total of three times when I tried to tell him my story and told me that I needed to learn to talk respectfully to others and he also called me a b—-.

My second bad experience was with Express Cab. I was coming home from a bar with a group of friends when a guy friend protested the high price the driver was charging us and attempted to negotiate a lower one. The driver immediately slammed on the brakes and remained stopped in the middle of the road, insisting that the guy get out of the cab immediately. He finally agreed to let him stay in the cab, but refused to start driving again until we all paid him the full amount he demanded in cash.

What angers me the most about these experiences is the fact that both drivers were willing to sacrifice their passengers’ safety in exchange for a bigger profit. The Michiana driver clearly wanted to make more per head on the same trip, and the Express driver refused to even listen to a protest over his inflated prices. I have been afraid to challenge the inflated prices, and these experiences have reinforced that fear. It shows me that if I dare stand up for myself, I will be walking home and subjected to insults not only from the driver, but also from the cab company itself.

If most of the cab companies’ business during the school year does indeed consist of Notre Dame students, then perhaps they should start treating their major clientele with a little more respect. Until then, I’ll be taking the bus.

Kristin Westgraduate studentOff-campusNov. 7