A multi-agency law enforcement taxi “sting operation” conducted at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Thursday, June 8th, resulted in 54 drivers being cited for mechanical and equipment violations, as well as some taximeters allegedly rigged to boost fares, airport officials said.
Nearly 500 taxicabs were inspected during the six-hour operation.
Drivers were cited for alleged violations such as improper lights; no proof of insurance, registration or permit; no license plate; unsealed meters; no fuel cap; improper attire and unsanitary interiors.
Also discovered were two “meter zapper” devices attached to taximeters that are allegedly used to illegally accelerate the fare. Two taxis had connector wires that could have been used for the same purpose, airport officials allege.
All 54 citations will require the drivers to appear at an administrative hearing with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) in order to dem- onstrate that the violations have been corrected and to pay fines.
The permits of the two drivers whose vehicles were equipped with the alleged illegal “meter zappers” were immediately revoked, putting them out of serv-ice until resolved with the city Department of Transportation.
With the summer peak travel season getting under way, airport officials said the inspections will enhance the safety of air travelers who use commercial ground transportation services to get to and from the airport.
There were over 1.5 million outbound taxi trips from LAX last year, which does not include the estimated millions of taxi trips from Los Angeles and other cities that transported passengers to the airport.
More than 2,300 taxicabs are permitted by the City of Los Angeles to operate in the city, which includes LAX. Taxis with city permits are scheduled to work at LAX one day in a five-day period.
Airport officials said LAX was chosen as the site for the multi-agency inspections because, on any given day, 20 percent of the city-permitted taxis are at LAX. Over a five-day period, 100 percent will have worked at LAX.
A team of 19 Los Angeles Airport Police Ground Transportation Enforcement Unit officers, LADOT investigators and Los Angeles County Weights and Measures Bureau inspectors conducted the operation in the LAX Taxicab Holding Lot, three blocks from the airport’s passenger terminal area.
Airport Police officers inspected permits, driver’s licenses, equipment and mechanical operations. LADOT investigators and county inspectors tested the accuracy of fare meters by putting taxis on dynometers — machines that measure the distance a vehicle’s tires have “driven” in place.
Los Angeles Airport Police conduct daily random mechanical and equipment inspections of taxicabs and other commercial ground transportation vehicles that operate at the airport, such as door-to-door vans, long-distance buses and limousines.