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City requires all taxis have cameras

By Heather Hintze 6:34 PM December 4, 2013

Drivers say cameras will make it safer for them and their customers

ANCHORAGE – As a cab driver, you can never be quite sure who you’re picking up. That’s why many already have cameras in their cars.

“When I’m driving a cab and my car has a camera, I have confidence. If I don’t have a camera, I’m not confident,” said Mustafa Warsame, who’s been driving a cab in Anchorage for the past two years.

The Anchorage Assembly passed new taxi regulations that will now require all cabs to have cameras.

Drivers say in addition to keeping an eye on passengers, they can also protect against other drivers.

“When I first got it I had a guy back into my taxi in a parking lot,” said Jason Gorman, a cab driver since 2005. “He called his insurance company and claimed my driver hit him. So when I sent them the video, they sent me a check the next day.”

It’s not cheap though —  some cameras cost more than $500 a piece. Drivers say the peace of mind is worth the extra bucks, but not everyone may be able to afford it.

“It’s an added expense in an industry that already has a lot of cabs and not enough passangers. But if they’re going to make us do it, they’re going to make us do it. I already have it, so it’s no big deal,” Gorman said.

The city’s new regulations also include a 5 cent increase in the per-mile rate and increased the permit transfer fee from $750 to $1,000.

They hope cameras can also curtail some of the rowdy behavior during bar break and assaults on drivers like the one that put a man in the hospital a few weeks ago.

“I don’t know if there was a camera or not, but the fact there might not have been one gave them the guts to do what they were going to do, which is beat that guy up and take his money,” Gorman said. “They put him in the hospital, badly, and that’s not the first one.”

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