MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - A couple of Twin Cities taxi drivers are both recovering after separate assaults Tuesday.
The owners say there’s a noticeable increase in aggression toward drivers this summer and a steady stream of people running off without paying. During the pandemic, some of these drivers are working toward a drastic change toward possibly no longer accepting cash as a result.
One of the assaults occurred at 1 p.m. in broad daylight Tuesday afternoon as four men attacked their driver near 38th and Girard Avenue North.
One reached for the camera as the driver hit the gas and rear-ended the car in front of him.
“It was a way to stop the attack,” said Waleed Sonbol, the general manager of Blue and White, Red and White, Rainbow and ABC Taxis. “Because no one knows how far it will go.”
Sonbol says the other assault involved suspects pouring hand sanitizer on the driver’s head, making the driver fearful of being set on fire.
“The aggressiveness is getting to be a little more than what we know,” said Sonbol. “It’s not that it’s new, but we’ve never had two incidents in one day.”
Between COVID-19 concerns and now this noticeable increase in aggression toward drivers, going completely cashless is something Sonbol is considering more strongly than ever before.
“There are a lot of drivers who do not want to pick up cash customers. They only want to pick up customers that have ordered via the app or via the website, or have an account with us,” said Sonbol.
“It is delicate, because we don’t want to hurt everybody because of the acts of a few, but I want to make sure our drivers are safe and they go home,” he added.
Sonbol added that most payments are already cash free. Plus, business is at about 60 percent compared to what it was pre-pandemic.
With extra cleaning and plastic barriers seen torn down in the video, barely half the number of cabs are even on the road right now, in part because of many drivers hesitant to get back behind the wheel for various health and safety concerns.
Sonbol said the drivers that are being attacked maybe have $20 or $30 in their pockets.
Minneapolis Police say they are working aggressively to make arrests. Until then, the cab company hopes warning others will help.
“This guy, he got into an accident. He went to the hospital for a little bit,” said Sonbol. “The next guy may not be so lucky.”