Daily Archives: February 16, 2011

How Come I Can Never Get A Cab In Boston?

Published February 16, 2011

Anyone who has stood outside a bar at 2 a.m., freezing cold, knows how hard it can be to find a taxi in Boston.

Man hailing taxicab

Taxi! (Andy Cross/Flickr)

At any given time, only 1,825 cabs are allowed to pick up fares. For a city of more than 600,000 people, that doesn’t seem like a lot of cabs.

According to at least one economist, it’s not. WBUR’s Adam Ragusea pointed me to a 2005 regression model of the number of cabs in major U.S. cities. In the abstract, author Bruce Schaller writes:

Licensing either too many or too few cabs can have serious deleterious effects on the availability and quality of service and the economic viability of the taxi business. Yet local officials often have difficulty quantifying the demand for taxi service or tracking changes in demand.

The model considers the number of no-car households, subway commuters and airport taxi trips and predicts that Boston’s cab supply is underserved by 73 to 128 percent.

So why not just allow more cabs to operate?

To operate a cab in Boston, you have to have a medallion — the square plate nailed to the back of the car. And you guessed it, there are 1,825 medallions in Boston. The government sets that number.

If you own a medallion, you’re rich. The last medallion that went up for auction sold for $400,000. Cab drivers lease medallions from the handful of bankers and investors who own the medallions. If you own one of those medallions, you don’t want more medallions in the market, because yours will be worth less. The city could flood the market with new medallions, but medallion owners could take the city to court and with a good case, at least as far as Adam’s reporting turned up.

People have suggested a regional taxi authority that would eliminate the patchwork of regulations throughout Greater Boston. “That will never in a million years happen,” said Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin in our live chat earlier today. It’s a matter of “politicians not wanting to give up control over something. It’s 350 years of home rule,” he said.

My best advice: Leave the bar at 1:30.

Brown Tells ‘60 Minutes’ He Was Sexually Abused

Published February 16, 2011


Sen. Scott Brown, in a “60 Minutes” interview scheduled to air Sunday, said he was sexually abused multiple times by a camp counselor when he was 10 years old.

Nothing was fully consummated, so to speak, but it was certainly back then very traumatic. He said, ‘If you tell anybody, you know, I’ll kill you. I will make sure that no one believes you.’ And that’s the biggest thing. When people find people like me at that young, vulnerable age, who are basically lost, the thing that they have over you is they make you believe that no one will believe you.

Brown said he never reported the abuse and has not told anyone — that is, until he told Lesley Stahl of CBS News. “That’s what happens when you’re a victim,” he said in the video. “You’re embarrassed. You’re hurt.”

Brown also said he was physically and psychologically abused by his mother’s many husbands.

The junior Massachusetts senator is scheduled to go on tour to promote his new memoir, “Against All Odds,” which goes on sale Monday, Feb. 21.

Update: The Globe obtained a copy of Brown’s book. The details are graphic:

Brown said the counselor who fondled him was in his mid-20s.

“I can remember how he looked, every inch of him: his long sandy, light brown hair; his long, full mustache; the beads he wore; the tie-died T-shirts and the cutoff jeans, which gave him the look of a hippie,” Brown writes in the book, “Against All Odds.”

Brown said the abuse occurred when he went to the camp infirmary, not feeling well. The counselor followed him into the bathroom, according to Brown’s account.

“I was standing there with my pants down and he came right up next to me and asked me if I needed help, and then he reached out his hand,” Brown writes, continuing with a graphic description of the encounter. Brown said he screamed and ran outside. The counselor told Brown later, “that if I told anybody, ever, he’d hurt me badly,” Brown writes.

Brown said he continued to see the counselor at camp for years after he was abused.

Live Chat: Questions, Kvetching On Boston Cabs

Published February 16, 2011

WBUR’s Adam Ragusea has become something of an expert at navigating Boston’s maze of cab regulations. He reported two stories for Radio Boston about why they are so expensive for you and me, the consumer. (Part 1, Part 2)

Readers joined Adam, Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin and me for a live chat Wednesday at 12 noon. We answered questions (and heard your complaints) about why things are the way they are in Boston cabs.