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I am an ex Vietnam Navy Pilot Instructor. I talked with a Cmdr today and told him who was preventing Uber drivers from entering the base. It is the Base Commander, the CO. He is concerned about getting and thinks taxi drivers are better vetted. I explained to the Cmdr that every Uber driver is vetted and probably more so than taxi drivers. The Cmdr will talk with the CO to try and get this opened. We need a follow up in a few weeks. Ins might come up.....
 

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I'm active navy retired and have access to the base. Do I have to state I'm going on an Uber run at the gate if I do so?
 

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I have been on and off DOD installations and as long as everyone in the car has a valid military ID we have never had any issues. Of course I did not tell them I was doing an über run.
 

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I'm retired Air Force and use my ID to gain base entry. If I'm bringing riders onto Eglin or Hurlburt, I make sure the sentry sees everyone's ID. I've had no problems.
 

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Jamesh sez:
Uber driver is vetted and probably more so than taxi drivers.
HAHAHAHAHAH! What planet do *you* live on? Are you serious? We'll get to that bit of lunacy in a moment.

Meantime... as of 1Feb2016 the Navy has stopped allowing civilians on NAS Pensacola...*except* to go to the museum and lighthouse. Retired and/or former military personnel still *can* get on base if they have a current, valid military ID, but they better not let the gate guard know they're working for Uber! And if a legitimate taxi spots an Uber car on base, you can be sure that a phone call *will* be made to Base Security. Better take down those "trade dress" stickers!

Okay, as for vetting... The City of Pensacola conducts a criminal background check (including fingerprinting) of all cab/taxi drivers. Does Uber? Just what type of background check does Uber conduct? Are you guys fingerprinted?

In addition to our City permit (which is required to get on base, so you're out of luck there), we also must have a DoD "vendor pass." Receiving one involves having the Navy do an FBI background check on you. To get a vendor pass, you actually have to work for a vendor - or have a legitimate company to call yourself "self-employed." Taxis must also have Commercial insurance. Does Uber? Hey, I'll answer that for you - NO! Those of you who operate on your personal auto insurance will NEVER be allowed on NAS to do business, whether you have a passenger on-board or not. If anything, the military is tightening security on its bases, not loosening it.

So if you think you'll ever be allowed on Pensacola NAS, dream on.

We give the kids really big discounts on trips to the mall, movie theatres, beach and airport. The fares are likely below what Uber charges. And if we find out that a Navy kid or Marine took an Uber from the mall to, say, the Valero gas station right outside of base and then called a taxi, oh we'll take him/her the rest of the way - but it will be at FULL meter, negating *any* savings they might have realized by that scam. Oh, and they'll probably tip us.
 

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Really? You give discounts below what über charges? You sir are confused about what über rates are. Then in the same breath you say how you will charge them more because they were trying to save some of their hard earned cash by charging them "full rip off" I mean full meter. Why would you not ALWAYS give our service men and women a deal? It is predators such as yourself that has caused many service members to shift to applications such as über and Lyft. I honestly hope there are ten more apps that pop up and put overpriced taxi services out of business.

I would say that I will ensure all my active duty friends steer clear of people like you but, for some reason they already do.

Don't be jealous, you can drive for über too. If you need a referral code let me know I will share mine with you.
 

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HAHAHAHAH! Man, you kill me. Full rip-off? Sonny, our rates are set by the City, we have nothing to do with them. We can and do give discounts to our regular, loyal customers - like the military kids who cannot have cars. We do this willingly and gladly. But when they try to game the system and find a way to get things even cheaper, then they get to pay full pop for us just like they do for you. Oh BTW, does Uber offer military discounts? I thought not.

Hey, you know what? Maybe I am confused about what Uber charges! The taxi meter rate fare from *inside* the Navy base to the mall is about $29. However the generally accepted military discount rate is $20. It's $20 whether one kid rides or six ride. Obviously we encourage them to group-up to make the individual cost smaller. What's $20 divided by five? Even *you* can probably do that math. I routinely take five and six Navy/Marine kids off and on base. How many can YOU take? And how much would Uber charge for the same trip? How much *does* Uber charge from the mall to the Valero? How can the Navy/Marine personnel know precisely what they're going to be charged for these trips? With us they can. Get your facts straight before you challenge me, boy.

Just for your information, the meter fare from the airport to my driveway is EXACTLY $8.75. I've done it at numerous times of day just to check. It's always the same: $8.75. You know what Uber's fare estimate for the same trip is? $9-11. HAHAHAHAHH. Where's the big savings Uber is supposed to provide to the general public?

Uber is a scam designed to make one person rich: Travis. YOU (the driver) cannot make money doing Uber in Pensacola. Travis is taking advantage of your stupidity.
 

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So what is it? Are rates set by the city or the driver? You said that you are able to give discounts but yet you contradict that by writing the rates are set by the city. Or does the city allow for a military discount?

You think a soldier or sailor trying to save some money is "gaming the system"? Have you ever been in the pay grade of E-1? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Perhaps your rates are cheaper, über rates are as follows:
Base Fare $1.50
Per Minute $0.15
Per Mile $1.15
Booking Fee $1.55
Minimum Fare $5.55
*The min fare includes the Booking Fee.

So you may still call me "boy" if you like, but please post your rates so we can compare. I am more than willing to have a transparent conversation about this so everyone may see.

As for your passes and vendor permits I do understand that those are required because you are a vendor and you should be checked out before being allowed to sell your service on the base. You sir are a Taxi Driver. I on the other hand am not. I am a member of a ride sharing platform. I am compensated for that sure, but I am not a Taxi Driver. I think you have a misconception about what über is and what it is designed to do. I bet if you took an objective look and even tried über you might find that you will like it and may even see the benefits.
 

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So...I have a misconception of what Uber is and does? Hmm, let's see: You take people from *here* and drop them off *there*...for a fee. Yep, I guess I've completely misunderstood Uber's business model! You're a goddam taxi driver, Ranger, whether you admit it or not. And you are evidently new to the taxi business. So let me school you!

Pensacola is a military (Navy) town. Every decent, honorable business gives military discounts to our active duty sailors and Marines. Usually the discount is around 10%. But the "kids" (they seem so young to me) often tell me that their restaurant meals are typically bought for them by locals if they are in uniform. It's what I love about Pensacola!

While our taxi meter rates *are* set by the City, we taxi drivers certainly are allowed to give discounts to those who deserve them. Thus, if the fare from the Base to the mall is $29, we discount that fare 30% to $20. Did you catch that? THIRTY PERCENT DISCOUNT. And we encourage the kids to group-up. I routinely take five guys/gals up to the mall. Split between them, it makes the fare $4.00 apiece. We hardly ever take just one or two guys from the base to the mall or wherever. Usually it's a full van, and that's why most of the cabs you see in Pensacola are six- and seven-passenger vans. Err, what do *you* drive, Ranger?

What we are *not* allowed to do is charge a "flat rate" of, say, $20 for each group. If I am dispatched to pick up three different groups to the mall (and I sometimes do), I am not allowed to charge them each $20 for a total of $60. I cannot charge *more* than what the meter reads. I *might* charge them $10, $10, and $10 which would be fair, and it still gives them each a nice discount over the amount they would've paid if they rode separately. (But honestly, most of the time I just tell them to split the $20 however they want.)

Let's use Uber's rates and find out what *you* would charge for a trip from the Galley on NAS to the mall. Google tells us that it's 10.7 miles for $12.30. Add to that the base fare of $1.50 and we're up to $13.80. It's a 22 minute trip, so add another $3.30 which brings us to $17.10. Oh! Don't forget the Safe Rider...err, "Booking Fee" of $1.55 and now we're at a grand total of $18.65. So you're saving the kids a whopping $1.35 over riding in a real taxi. And guess what? They often tip me! AAAAAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Now wait- Out of that $18.65, the Uber driver gets...what? What's Uber's commission here in Pensacola, 25%? So you get 75% of $18 which is, what, $13.50? That's a losing proposition, man. I simply could not make money if I charged the kids $14 to the mall - and I own my own cab! I get and keep the full $20. I give a cut/commission to no one! Tell me this, Ranger: Why do you sell yourself so short? Why do you drive for such little money? Do you have a self-respect issue? Don't you want to *make* money in this life?

Oh, and if my numbers are wrong...in other words if Uber doesn't charge the per-minute fee while underway, say, then your total fare for the tip might be even lower, yes. But then *your* cut of the fare is even lower as well, right? Again, why would you do this? The trips between the base and the mall are usually not two-way. The kids go up to the mall in the mornings, and then they come back to base in the afternoon/evening. So there's little chance of snagging a revenue trip to the mall and a revenue trip back to base - it just doesn't work that way. If you grab a trip to the beach on a Saturday morning, you will most assuredly dead-head back empty.

Now, about people trying to "game the system." The kids know very well that Uber is not allowed on base. They also know that we taxis only charge $20 from the mall which is, as I said, a THIRTY PERCENT DISCOUNT on the metered fare. If the Base Commander were to bust our balls and say, "No discounts!" we would happily do that. But what kind of a dick would he have to be to say something like that? We're doing his kids a favor. Big favor.

But! If a sailor knowingly takes an Uber from the mall to the Valero gas station outside of base to save a few *more* bucks over a legitimate taxi, then he is not a regular, loyal customer and we are therefore not inclined to give him a discount on the fare from the Valero onto base. It'll be full meter. He might end up only paying a total of $20 for the combined trip, but he'll have the added inconvenience of having to get out of your car at the Valero and wait for one of ours. Hey, if it's worth it for them, great!

By the way, Ranger, what is Uber's military discount rate for the Navy and Marines?

Ranger, if I were you, I'd buy and operate a legitimate taxi. There is simply no way to make money as an Uber driver in Pensacola, Florida. Fudge the numbers anyway you like, but in your heart you know it's true. So swallow your pride - come back to the "dark side." I can assure you we'll welcome you with open arms. Heck, it's been done before! We have a couple of former Uber drivers who's seen the light and come back. Think about it ;)
 

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Well I completely agree with you that making money driving for über is extremely difficult. The reason I do it is because I wanted to try it out. I am an active duty serviceman with 25 years of service. I make plenty of money from my day job and also have a pension plan and benefits to boot. I am also a small business owner and have real estate. My point here is that some people are not doing über to become wealthy, nor are they doing it for charity. There is a means to the madness. I never say "never" but the odds of me ever driving a taxi are pretty slim.

I have looked at different ways to do über and what works best for me is to turn über on when I am planning to head to Pensacola and will usually pick up a ride on the way that pays for my gas for the day. Then maybe one or two more rides and lunch or dinner is paid for. I am not trying to pay off a mortgage with über.

You probably are the best taxi driver on the emerald coast but you are not the only one who gets a tip. Granted your tips are likely much more than mine but don't think people never tip über drivers.
 

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Thank you, Ranger, but I wouldn't say that I'm the *best* taxi driver on the Emerald Coast; I'm just one of them. There are plenty of us who take our jobs very seriously. And many of us *are* trying to pay our mortgages by being legitimate cabdrivers. Uber has hurt my airport business by about 25%. Luckily I do not depend on the airport but many cabdrivers do. I see the Uber cabs lined up outside of the airport waiting for trips. And I wonder just how many Uber trips there can be in a day? I know how many taxi trips come off the airport - and it ain't many! One or two per flight is a reasonable estimate...and ZERO per Silver Airways flight (the little turboprop planes).

The City and Escambia County have rules that govern "vehicles for hire." And you have to admit, Uber drivers and cars are not "sharing" anything. It is *Uber* that is sharing the trip with its driver-partners. The driver is acting as...(drumroll, please)...a TAXI! I'm not quite sure what twisted logic our stupid mayor came up with to justify allowing Uber to operate. The City Attorney must have surely been asleep or out sick that day (neither would be surprising in this backwater dump of a town). I suspect that the esteemed mayor must know that if there is a legal challenge to Uber (as there is going to be, and soon, heh-heh) he will have to reverse his position and possibly refund the $1,000 that Travis officially paid him...err, paid the city. ...And maybe whatever other "incentives" that Travis gave him on the downlow. ("Hey Mayor, how would you like some really spiffy, brilliant Christmas lights and decorations for your downtown area this Christmas? We'll funnel it through your Downtown Improvement Board so no one will know!")

So the only way that Uber would be legitimate here in Pensacola/Escambia County is if there were no rules at all for "vehicles for hire" (or small businesses for that matter, but we'll deal with that later). Funnily enough, through incredible coincidence the city council president introduced a proposal that would eliminate all such rules for taxis and limos! Well whaddya know! Methinks that "someone" (ahem) in our city government has a friend or relative that drives for Uber - and they know that when push comes to shove Uber will be deemed "not in compliance" (i.e. illegal) and the Uber cars will have to adhere to the existing regs. ...Which will effectively negate any (unfair) advantage that they have right now.

Oddly enough, I do see a need for an Uber-like service in areas with little demand for conventional taxis, like most of Escambia County for instance. For retired people or those who work from home who want to make extra part-time money, it would be great if they could log-on and just be ready for trips during the day. I believe that if the general public knew such a service was available it would create a market that doesn't not really exist today. Right now, people in the outlying areas of the county know there aren't any cabs and that it'll take *forever* to get one - so they make other arrangements. This is where "Uber" comes in: The ability to "see" the available cabs in your area is vital. But it's a real "chicken or the egg" situation.
 

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Aw Jeez Goosetowner, your comment is interesting on a number of levels! And one of those levels is that you would seriously post such a statement.

As a longtime commercial pilot I am a follower of rules, always have been. I believe that without rules all we're left with is chaos. Currently there are rules for "vehicles for hire" here in Escambia County and Pensacola City. (And Uber cars are, at the beginning, middle and end of the day, vehicles for hire.) I believe that the rules that are in place are there for: a) the protection of the consumer*; and b) the protection of legitimate, established businesses (of which Uber is neither). And as long as these rules are in effect, then I believe that we should follow them.

It seems to me that Uber drivers feel that there should be no rules for businesses in any municipality. Want to start a business? Just go ahead! There shouldn't be any licensing or permitting process...and certainly no fees associated with such trivialities. Want to open up a burger stand next to a McDonalds - without the scrutiny that comes with legitimate businesses that sell food to the public? You go right ahead there, Sparky! It's an...interesting...concept - no rules!

Look, it's simple. Right now Uber drivers are conducting business within Escambia County and the City of Pensacola without going through the normal, traditional processes of starting and operating a business. Thus they are harming legitimate business owners who did comply with those processes. They are also harming the municipalities by denying them the fees they collect for such things - fees that keep government running (seen any roads get paved lately?). I, for one am not okay with this. And I'm not convinced that doing away with all rules for "vehicles for hire" is in the interest of the general public. If you want to lobby for such a thing, hey, you are free to do so. And good luck with that, because there will be many on the opposite side of the fence.
 

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I bet you'd stand in line to vote for Hillary Clinton too. Government regulation stifles innovation. I compare uber and traditional taxis to slide rules and hand held calculators. Conventional taxis can no longer be fairly competitive so they lobby (buy off) politicians and demand regulation. When someone debarks a commercial airliner and signals uber they know exactly what to expect and when they signal uber they make a contract which the government has no right to interfere with. You sir need to come into the new millennium and quit trolling an uber site. Were I an administrator I'd ban you.
 

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Roads are paved and maintained with gas tax, Escambia County and Pensacola are largely oversized HOA's with a few elites in charge, it is more difficult to do business here than California. The best part about Uber is our ability to outsmart and outmarket the taxi business. Much like North Korea, the taxi business wants no competition and cries to government to push competition out, same with food trucks and downtown. The elite few run the board. I'll out market the taxi business with the "pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered approach. It's time to market taxis out of existence and treat the people to real competition.
 

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Eventually you will find that you cannot make money in Pensacola at Uber's ridiculously low rates. (I can't.) Eventually you'll have to honestly admit what it costs to run your vehicle. And then you'll probably get out of the silly "ride-sharing" or "ride-hailing" business. (Ride-hailing? Isn't that a taxi or livery service?)

Just read the other areas of this Uberpeople board! Already we see Uber drivers who only work when it's surging. I guess they don't get the irony that while they claim that Uber saves people money by being cheaper than taxis, Uber is certainly not cheaper when the surge is on. So where's the advantage of using Uber? You think taxis are going to go away? Hah. People in NYC are already realizing that it's easier and more convenient to just step out to the curb and hail a taxi rather than wait for their Uber to arrive.

Also, not everyone wants to (or even can) pay for their taxi with a credit card. A large percentage of my fares are still cash. How's that work with Uber? How would someone who arrives at the Pensacola Airport get a taxi/Uber if they don't want to use a credit card or if they don't have a cellphone (or if it's dead)? This happens more than you know, evidently.

Uber is not the answer to all problems. It creates as many as it solves.
 

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I bet you'd stand in line to vote for Hillary Clinton too. Government regulation stifles innovation. I compare uber and traditional taxis to slide rules and hand held calculators. Conventional taxis can no longer be fairly competitive so they lobby (buy off) politicians and demand regulation. When someone debarks a commercial airliner and signals uber they know exactly what to expect and when they signal uber they make a contract which the government has no right to interfere with. You sir need to come into the new millennium and quit trolling an uber site. Were I an administrator I'd ban you.
As a cab driver who struggles to make a living in this town, I looked into Uber very closely. Was it something that was viable? I'm all for new technology. So I considered it. But three cabdrivers I know who switched over to Uber were not successful. One left town and two came back to driving a taxi. The reasons were the same: You can't make money driving full-time for Uber here in Pensacola.

So here we have Goosetowner who advocates abolishing all laws and regulations for vehicles for hire so he can make money. When he gets an opposing view, he says he would ban me from this site. Nice, dude. What, does the truth hurt that much?

I wonder if Goosetowner would suggest getting rid of the rules that airlines run under just so new, upstart airlines could come into the market and make money without having to pay for all that pilot training and the hiring of qualified, licensed mechnaics? After all, aren't regulations bad? What do we need that FAA for?

"Conventional taxis can no longer be fairly competitive." Hah. That is such an immature statement that it's literally a laugh. Think again, sonny. It is Uber that is not competing fairly. Merely saying that you want Uber to exist in a regulation-free market does not justify making it so. Regulations are usually in place for a reason. Unless they are onerous or severely restrictive, we usually leave them in place. Your mileage may vary, but I do not believe that the regulations pertaining to "vehicles for hire" here in Escambia County are extremely or unnecessarily restrictive. Nor do they stifle competition.

The general public deserves to know a few things. They deserve to know that their cab driver has had a proper criminal background check, that his fingerprints and employment and residence history are on file with the local police, and that he carries sufficient insurance as mandated by the State even when he is not carrying a passenger-for-hire. They deserve to know how much they're going to pay for a trip - not merely a "fare estimate" (which may vary) or be surprisingly faced with a "surge fare" on their way home from the concert or bar because not enough drivers are working at that hour. With traditional taxis these things are known. As a cabbie, if I know a passenger's destination, I can quickly give a damn good and accurate estimate (within a dollar) of what the fare will be. Can Uber?

I'm not trolling here. I'm a member in good standing of this board. I own and drive a vehicle-for-hire...a legal, licensed, permitted, legitimate vehicle-for-hire. If the situation changes and Uber becomes viable I would be stupid not to consider switching over. But that time is not now - and may never be given the limitations of our market. See, I *know* what it costs me to run my vehicle - I *know* what I have to earn per mile to make a profit. I *know* that my revenue miles cost me exactly the same as my dead-head miles.

Any Uber driver I've ever asked about the cost of operation of his vehicle has responded with vague, non-specific jibberish. They don't know. All they tell me is how much they make per hour - which really tells me nothing because it *costs* you money to make that money. Repeat after me: Operating a car ain't free. And saying, "Wellllll...I made $600 last week but I only spent $60 in gas..." doesn't even begin to explain how much a car costs to operate.

I'll close with this: We taxis give the Navy and Marine Corps kids a discount, as does most every other business here in Pensacola. I've asked before whether Uber does too? So far I've gotten no response. The meter fare from the Base to the mall is about $29. We taxis charge the kids $20 total (not per-person) for that trip. Of that $20, I keep it all - nobody takes a commission. Just for grins, the other day I was sitting at the galley on NAS. I opened the Uber app and requested a fare estimate from my present position to the Cordova Mall. Uber's estimate: $18 - $22. Hah. Just how much of that $18 - $22 would *you* keep, Uber driver?

So, you guys really want to work the base? Come on!
 

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I can honestly say, after 20 years in the US Navy, not once did a cab driver ever give me a discount. And not to mention cab drivers in Pensacola are probably some of the worst drivers on the road. Granted they may consider themselves professional drivers, but their attitude is that of one who thinks all other drivers owe them the world.
 

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Well RawHide, you certainly haven't ridden in a taxi lately. And if you claim that you do still use cabs, then you're not telling the truth. The only taxi companies that *don't* give military discounts are Yellow/Checker and Uber. All of the other (seven or so) companies who "work" the base frequently do give discounts - always have from what the old-timers tell me. In the five years I've been doing this, all three of the companies I've worked for have always given military discounts to the kids at NATTC.

I've already detailed the military discounts we provide. We do this because a) we like to take care of our regular, loyal customers, b) we respect those who've chosen to serve our country, and c) we understand that the kids on the base do not have a lot of money and typically cannot have POV's while they're here.

As for the quality of driving...well...you got me there. Driving a cab (or an Uber) requires no special skill. But see, we are on the road much more than casual/pleasure drivers. Moreover, we're out there making money, not just joyriding around. In the course of my work, I often see non-professional drivers ("civilians") do some incredibly stupid, unsafe things. So yeah, some drivers do get a little arrogant in their technique when other drivers don't know or don't observe the rules of the road (like keep right, etc.). Not much we can do about that. I always advise the kids that if they feel the driver is acting unsafely, then they should make a note of the cab company and car number and immediately report it to the base commander without remorse; it's their lives that are at stake here. We need to get the bad drivers off the road.

I see some cab drivers tearing along a full-speed, weaving in and out of traffic as we make our way toward the mall. I drive like an old man (which I am - and I am acutely aware of my gas mileage), and I usually catch them at every red light. And even if they do get ahead of me, I'll be pulling in at the mall just as their passengers are getting out. So what's the point of driving like a madman? So you can get back to base and be ahead of me by one position on the lineup? Seems kinda dumb. But there ya go.

Thankfully, for all of the traffic between the base and the mall or the base and the beach, there just aren't taxi crashes. But even if an accident were to happen to a taxi, we're still better insured than an Uber car/driver. If, for instance, I get into an accident when I'm empty and deadheading back to base, my commercial insurance covers me immediately. The hapless Uber driver would be told to submit the claim to his personal insurance company and *hope* they do not find out he was operating commercially, refuse the claim and cancel his insurance - at which point he could then submit the claim to Uber. That time delay could mean a lot of lost revenue if the car was damaged sufficiently to prevent operation. I'll never understand why Uber drivers accept such shady business practices. Again, seems kinda dumb. But there ya go.
 

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All this talk of giving military discounts for taxi rides is really quite admirable, however, it is a criminal misdemeanor to charge a rate anything other than what the meter reads. That includes both over-charging AND charging less. This also includes fares going to and from the city to the county, as the city ordinance has been re-written to no longer make that distinction. Other than that I agree with all the points that Aw Jeez makes.
 
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