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Taxi Inspectors Make Sure Passengers Are Not Being Taken For A Ride

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RALEIGH — There are 550 taxi drivers working for 35 different companies in Raleigh. Inspectors are making sure that the cabs are safe and drivers charge a fair rate.

The inspections are a joint effort by the city and the state. City inspectors go over everything from headlight to taillight. State inspectors look over the meters, the devices that tally how much you pay.

"I also check scales in grocery stores. It serves the same purpose," says state inspector Bill Edwards. "If it's overcharging, it's wrong. If it's undercharging, it's wrong."

Taxi cab inspectors mean business. If a driver is late or misses an inspection appointment, it is a $50 fine. If they skip the whole inspection, their taxi cab license is revoked.

The state inspectors also take the cab drivers and their meters out for a road test. Thursday, crews marked out a measured mile along Centennial Parkway. To avoid overcharging or undercharging, they check the meters going out and coming back.

"If it's right coming out, occassionally it'll be wrong going back," Edwards says.

After the test, inspectors seal the taxi's meter. The seal is not to be broken until the next inspection. The whole process is intended to help both passengers and drivers.

The taxi inspections should be finished next week. So far, inspectors say they have found more meters undercharging than overcharging.

Raleigh approved an increase in cab fares July 1. The new cab rates are $1.95 at the start of the ride. They go up to $2 per mile after that.