Not surprising. The RecordOnline reports:
…"Pirates, that's what we call them," [Steven] Lootz says of the illegal drivers.
Most people know them as "gypsy cabs," a common feature in cities, where a mix of immigrant life and street hustle give rise to second economies. They operate out of regular vehicles, and charge just a little less than the legitimate cab services.
Their existence in Monroe reflects the influence of Kiryas Joel, a tiny village of more than 13,000 residents, where Hasidic women do not drive, and whose laborers, mostly immigrants from Eastern Europe or Central America, look for deals where they can.
The illegal drivers are mostly Latino, with some Russian-speaking drivers thrown in, Lootz says. They do 80 percent of their business inside Kiryas Joel, where few of the passengers are likely to rat them out to police, and where there is always a demand for rides.
"That's what spawned this industry," Lootz says of the demand created by Kiryas Joel.
"If you took KJ out of the equation, you'd still have (the illegal cabbies), but not to the extent you have now."
Cities such as Port Jervis, Middletown and Newburgh all have strict laws restricting these illicit businesses; Monroe does not.
But after years of random crackdowns, police have started a concerted campaign to shut the illegal cabbies down, and to create laws to stifle their numbers. That's because the number of illegal drivers, as well as complaints about them, are growing, said Monroe village Detective Jim Frankild.
"They don't possess the proper insurance; they don't have class E driver's licenses; and we're finding that a lot of the vehicles are registered in Pennsylvania," where car registrations and driver's licenses are less scrutinized, Frankild said.…
Village police have issued 31 tickets to illegal taxi drivers within the past six months, and their vehicles have been impounded, Frankild said. The fact that the village already has two Hasidic-operated taxi companies does not seem to have reduced the demand.
Driving through the Hasidic village, it's easy to see why.
It's 3:30 in the afternoon, and the sidewalks are streaming with people, mostly women carrying groceries, pushing strollers and clutching pocketbooks. Many are looking for rides, usually to shopping centers and doctors' offices in town. There are also many young Hasidic men trying to hitch rides.
"You see that red van that just picked up? That's one of them," Lootz says about a vehicle that several Hasidic teenage boys jumped into. "Now that's $6 I don't have in my van, because he's doing it for $5."
Livery plates, required for all cabbies, cost about $4,000 to $5,000 more in insurance per year than plates for regular vehicles. Illegal taxi services also save money by subcontracting to their employees, who split their cash earnings with them, thus avoiding the cost of employee benefits as well as taxes, cab owners say.…
[Hat Tip: An anonymous commenter to this post.]