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The Boston Globe

Opinion

JEFF JACOBY | Boston’s broken cabs

Ending medallion oligopoly will help clean up the mess

So the mayor of Boston, channeling his inner Captain Renault, is shocked — shocked! — to find that Boston’s taxi industry is a rigged and pitiless racket.

Why, until he read about it in The Boston Globe, Tom Menino never had a clue that in the city he has presided over for 20 years, cabbies are commonly treated like serfs, abused by multimillionaire owners who flout the law with impunity. If it hadn’t been for the Spotlight team’s detailed exposé, the mayor still wouldn’t know about all those besieged Boston cab drivers, most of them immigrants, who have to work exhaustingly long shifts as “independent contractors” without benefits or job protection — and with no assurance of earning a living wage. He still wouldn’t know about the bribes and swindles many cabbies are forced to endure if they wish to stay employed. Or about the grossly underinsured cabs that put passengers and pedestrians at grave financial risk. Or about the Boston police regulators who do nothing — and claim to know nothing — about the corruption endemic in a system that empowers fleet moguls to gouge drivers.

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