Toronto cabbies are being chastised for refusing to take clubgoers home on the weekend.

A group of undercover female police officers posing as clubgoers found that a number of taxi drivers refused to provide them with service when they asked to be taken just a few blocks from the city's Entertainment district.

"The officers had not consumed alcohol and were not acting drunk," said Det. Const. Mark Tracey with 52 Division.

"They asked to be taken about seven blocks away and they were refused service," he said in an interview with

Police laid 21 charges against taxi drivers on the weekend for refusing the first fare. The crackdown was part of a two-day blitz dubbed "Project Take Me Home" aimed at identifying and charging cab drivers who violate municipal bylaws.

Authorities say it's becoming a popular practice for cabbies to refuse service to people who want to be driven a short distance. Some drivers have been asking for an "unreasonable amount" up front, police say.

According to the city, cab drivers must serve the first person who requests their service, no matter how short the travel distance may be. Refusing the first customer is a violation of a municipal bylaw.

The bylaw states the only time a driver can refuse a customer is if:

  • The passenger owes the driver money from a previous fare
  • The passenger refuses to disclose their final destination
  • The passenger asks to be driven to a remote place that the driver considers unsafe
  • The passenger is unduly obnoxious or abusive

Cab drivers must record the reasons why a passenger has been denied service.

However, Tracey said the police crackdown over the weekend found a number of cabbies are violating the bylaws.

The practice is putting people's lives at risk, according to a news release put out by 52 Division, the police station responsible for patrolling the city's Entertainment District.

"Abandoning these young people on the streets, and leaving them on the roadside, creates a unique public safety issue," the release says.

"Assaults and disorderly conduct between people trying to hail taxi cabs has become commonplace," it continues. "Patrons often put themselves in harm's way, while making desperate efforts to hail cabs from the middle of the street."

Police say the majority of the charges were laid after the clubs let out for the evening, between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. They also said this is the hour where most violent crimes against people take place.

Tracey said making sure people get home right away is part of the police safety plan for the area.

One cab driver told CTV Toronto that cabbies are selective with fares because they don't want to lose out on the rides that will yield them more money.

"Sometimes we wait an hour or two hours and we expect a good fare," he said.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Roger Petersen