AUSTIN -- Beginning Thursday, Austin cab drivers will be allowed to charge up to $100 extra for passengers who’ve had too much to drink and “mess up” the cab. The money is for clean up costs and to pay for taking the cabs out of the mix.
“It takes me like a couple of hours because when I clean it my car needs to be dry,” said local cab driver Joseph Ngaleu.
The City of Austin directed the Transportation Department two years ago to look at more ways to get more taxis working at night. The city council approved a measure three weeks ago to allow cab drivers to charge an extra $1 per passenger after 9 p.m. The second part of the incentives for cab drivers is the $100 clean up fee.
“I like that there's something finally official on the books so that I can say, 'The city says that I can charge you 'X' amount,'” said cab driver Scott Powell.
Each cab will have signs to let passengers know about the extra clean up fee and the cab drivers will get the money directly from the passenger.
“If somebody's going to get drunk enough to get sick in a cab and screw up their property, I think cab drivers have a right to be able to charge that,” said cab user Anna Little.
In March, the city council will discuss adding 45 more cabs to the city’s fleet of 675 just in time for South By Southwest.