NEWS

Illegal taxis remain at Pearson airport despite crackdown

10/16/2014 06:53 EDT | Updated 12/16/2014 05:59 EST
A fleet of illegal taxis targeting unsuspecting travellers have set up shop at Pearson International Airport, CBC News has learned.

Taxi drivers will approach travellers in the arrivals pick-up and drop-off area of the airport, offering rides. They will sometimes walk into the terminal to solicit rides before passengers even make it outside.

The problem is these taxis are unlicensed and often charge exorbitant fees — some reports have rides from the airport costing as much as $70 in cash.

Both the police and airport are aware of the problem. Pearson has brought in a private security firm to get a handle on the situation. But the illicit taxis, known as "scoopers," remain.

"He looked nice … clean. He looked decent," said MaryAnn Nagy, who was set to ride in a scooper until a security guard pointed her to the right direction.

"It's happening in every airport I travel through," she said, "but I'm surprised they are this good at it here."

New York resident Fausto Publisi wasn't fooled.

"I'm not surprised. I guess it's just people trying to make a living, trying to cut corners," he said.

Cab drivers want enforcement

But for those drivers making an honest living, it is beyond frustrating.

"It puts a bad light on the industry," said Ciro Vitolo, who runs an airport limo business.

His drivers pay almost $700 a month to be licensed by the city and the airport.

"We'd like to see enforcement and actually a presence to protect these gentleman's business," said Vitolo of his drivers.

The airport authority has hired a security firm with the sole purpose of keeping a lookout for scoopers. But enforcement is up to Peel Regional Police.

Just months ago, police cracked down on the scoopers, with eight to 12 drivers charged with trespassing every day for a time.

But even as drivers are charged with trespassing, the scooping continues.

For travellers, there a few ways to tell if it is a legitimate, legal taxi: Look for license stickers and in-cab licenses, and do not go with anyone to the parking lot. Only licensed taxis are in the designated pick-up and drop-off taxi area.

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