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System in taxis will warn riders of higher fare rate

New York City taxis are being equipped with a warning system that lets passengers know the driver has activated a higher rate.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission announced the changes Wednesdayafter recently discovering thousands of drivers illegally charging the wrong rate.

Cabbies were secretly using a rate designated for trips to the suburbs. It is double the city-limits rate.

The TLC said it found at least 1.8 million riders were illegally charged over the past two years.

Officials say more than 5,100 cabs have the warning on the screen in the backseat. The rest of the 13,200-vehicle fleet will get it over the next several days.

The warning also tells passengers to report their driver if the higher rate has been activated inside city limits.

Meanwhile, New Yorkers haven't been taking advantage of a program that would get them cheaper fares. Two weeks after its launch, the cab share program just isn't catching on.

Despite a cheap fare of $3 to $4, riders Wednesday weren't lining up to share a ride downtown with a group of strangers. As of 9:30 a.m., not a single person showed up for a group ride at 57th Street and Eighth Avenue, one of the program's three pickup sites, according to a Taxi and Limousine Commission staffer.

New Yorkers said they were confused about the details of the program.

"I would love to use it, but I have no idea where it is," said Gary Branigan, while waiting for a bus at 57th Street and Eighth Avenue Wednesday morning.

The TLC has tried hard to get the word out about the group rides and even offered free doughnuts and muffins at a 72nd Street stop on Tuesday.

The agency didn't return calls for comment Wednesday.

As many as four passengers can share a ride for stops along Park Avenue between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. The other two pickup spots are at 72nd Street and Third Avenue and at 72nd and Columbus Avenue.

There are plans to begin offering shared rides at the Port Authority bus terminal in upcoming weeks.

- amNewYork with AP

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