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Former Baseball Player Says LAX Cab Driver Demanded He Take The Bus

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Doug Glanville (Photo via Facebook)
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Former MLB player Doug Glanville says that it's hard for him to get a cab sometimes, even though taxi cab drivers are not allowed to turn down rides over the customers' race or destination. Glanville, 45, used to be an outfielder for the Phillies, Cubs and Rangers. He now works as a baseball analyst for ESPN and travels frequently for his job. He's had issues getting cabs in numerous cities, including D.C. and Chicago, and most recently, in Los Angeles at LAX.

Glanville wrote in The Atlantic that he'd just flown to Los Angeles from Hartford with an ESPN cameraman named Joe Vanderford, whom he met up with during his connection in Minneapolis. The pair were staying at the same hotel in L.A., so decided they'd share a taxi from LAX to the hotel. Glanville is black and Vanderford is white.

Glanville said that they had some trouble locating a cab in the chaos of the airport, but were eventually able to secure one with the help of an Airport Taxi Supervisors (ATS) rep. However, while the driver was pleasant with Vanderford, Glanville said everything changed when the driver saw him"

… [the driver] froze and his entire demeanor shifted. His English was not strong, but it was clear. "Go across the street! You take the bus! It is $19!"
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Glanville considered himself lucky to be at LAX, saying he had been ignored by cab drivers before in more remote areas. However, Glanville said both he and Vanderford were "disturbed" by the incident. The ATS rep even got involved, but Glanville said the driver kept insisting they take the bus.

Finally, another taxi showed up and agreed to take them. Glanville said this is when an airport employee, who was also black, told him that she'd seen three black men get denied rides during her shift that night. She suggested filing a complaint, which Glanville said ATS was doing on their behalf. In the end, Glanville ended up not filing a complaint because he felt he could not identify the driver with 100 percent accuracy based on the photo ATS provided.

It's against the law to deny a person a ride based on their race. At LAX in particular, Glanville notes that legally, drivers who are "first up" at a taxicab stand "shall not refuse to transport any unless approval is obtained from a representative of the city. A short trip by a passenger shall not be a valid reason for refusing service, unless a City approved separate short trip system is in operation at the time to transport the passengers."

Additionally, a driver can't deny a person a ride unless they've been dispatched on a different call, the passenger is behaving in a disorderly way or carrying too many things or an animal, or there's some reason to believe the passenger might stain the car.

Glanville said he understands why drivers were concerned about safety, but that he has been using ride-sharing services like Uber—though he admits they're not a perfect model—in lieu of cabs. And if cab drivers continue to discriminate potential fares based on skin color, where they're headed, or even where the cab driver thinks they might be headed, those fares will also turn to ride-sharing platforms. (Of course, a lot of back and forth preceded the decision that ride sharing services could pick up passengers at LAX.)

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He also noted that most of the cab drivers who refused to give him a ride—including the driver at LAX—were not white, and that many are immigrants:

English was not the first language of the driver who refused me at LAX. This fact complicated the story for me. On the one hand, it was sobering to see how newcomers to the United States could not only adopt longstanding racial and institutional biases, but entrench them even further. On the other hand, I knew that I was in a position of power, and that I was in danger of making assumptions myself.