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'People are feeling violated:' Aggressive cab driver complaints spike at ferry terminal

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SEATTLE, Wash. -- The Washington State Patrol calls it bad behavior – taxicab and town car drivers breaking the rules at Colman Dock.

“It’s a very big issue,” said Washington State Trooper Samantha Metcalf.

WSP said some taxis, town cars and for hire vehicles are breaking the rules by aggressively soliciting passengers for business.

“People are just feeling violated because they’re being grabbed at,” said Metcalf. “Their belongings are being grabbed. People are feeling like they’re being harassed or their things are being stolen.”

On Tuesday, our KOMO camera caught a cab driver in action approaching ferry passenger Dana Cooper Brown while she was still inside the ferry terminal.

“It’s a nightmare battling it out,” said Dana Cooper Brown about the cab drivers at Colman Dock.

Cooper Brown has been commuting by ferry daily to visit her father at a local hospital. She says aggressive drivers approach her daily at the terminal.

“I usually go for someone who’s standing by their cab rather than the ones that are trying to grab at me,” said Cooper Brown.

WSP said they have received complaints about the drivers and their behavior from ferry workers and passengers for quite some time. With increasing ferry ridership and construction around the terminal - the complaints, WSP says, are on the rise.

Around Colman Dock there are several designated areas for taxi cabs and pre-paid town cars. But, many drivers chose to park directly in front of the terminal in metered street parking.

WSP said drivers park without paying in an attempt to gain a fare before parking enforcement makes the discovery. The agency said drivers have gotten into physical fights with each other trying to get business from ferry passengers.

“There is quite a bit of competition down here,” said Brown. “It’s a lucrative place for those folks to work. There gets to be some aggressiveness in trying to gain those fares.”

Parking inspectors and city enforcement recently set up a sting operation to catch violators breaking the rules. WPS said drivers were caught in action, then fined.

Seattle Yellow Cab is one of half a dozen cab companies with drivers working the terminal.

Amin Shifow is the general manager for the company. He said while it’s a small number of independent drivers from his company breaking the rules, they’ll work to educate staff on proper conduct.

“We’ll reach to our drivers and see if they can change their behavior,” said Shifow.

Shifow said the company, in the past, has placed a staff member at the dock to help monitor the issue, but recently had not received any direct complaints from the ferry system.

Passengers said they hope the city, cab companies or even Washington State Ferries will consider a staffed cab stand to solve the growing problem.

“I just hope everyone obeys the rules,” said Shifow.

What makes the issue worse, according to WSP, for hire vehicles that are not licensed by the city to do business at the dock are also soliciting passengers outside the terminal.

They said that creates more competition and ultimately more problems. A fine for illegally soliciting a fair is $513.

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