A Toronto woman is considering charges after a taxi driver swore at her and had her leave his cab early Wednesday morning in an altercation reportedly caused by his refusal over a short fare.
A cellphone video, which captures a portion of the incident, shows Dasha Chu in an argument with what appears to be a City Taxi driver. It ends with him repeatedly swearing at her and attempting to swipe the phone away before she leaves the cab.
“I will pay you for whatever the meter says,” Chu is heard saying in the video before the driver launches into profanities.
Chu tells CityNews the incident happened around 3 a.m. on King Street West when she was leaving work at a nearby club.
“As soon as I got in he asked where I was going and I told him I was going a couple of blocks down and he said, ‘No, go to a different car,’” she said.
Chu says normally her taxi ride home, which she does four times a week, costs $6.
“Especially leaving at that time, there’s a lot of drunk people on the street and it’s not safe to walk home alone so I usually take a cab back home,” Chu said.
In the video, the driver repeatedly asked her to go to the first taxi waiting in the queue. Chu says that driver had already accepted passengers.
City Taxi did not return CityNews multiple requests for comment.
Short fares are not a legally applicable reason for turning down a fare.
Taxi drivers can only refuse someone a ride if that person:
- Owes such owner or driver for a previous fare or service;
- Upon being requested by such owner or driver, refuses to disclose his or her final destination before or immediately after entering the taxicab;
- Asks to be driven to a remote place in circumstances which such owner or driver reasonably believes to be unsafe;
- Is unduly obnoxious or abusive;
- Smokes in the taxicab;
- Fails or refuses to make an advance payment when requested by the driver
This is not the first time the taxi industry has come under fire for refusing fares. In 2015, Ariela Navarro Fenoy died in a shooting outside of Muzik nightclub. Her friend had said in the moments before, several cabbies refused to take them on what would have been an $8 fare.
“He just showed unprofessionalism in there,” said iTaxiworker Association president Sajid Mughal. “He had no right to swear at her.”
While Mughal expressed concern the driver was only trying to respect the queue rules in turning Chu down, he admits fare refusals happen too often in the city.
He blames any spike in refusals squarely on the city, when it phased out mandatory taxi driver training in 2016 when it brought Uber into the fold.
“It may happen even more,” Mughal said.
Dasha says she’s been in contact with police, who recommended she press charges. She says she’s still thinking over her next steps.