Here's some more bad news about the city's embattled carriage horse industry. The Post reveals that many carriage drivers are charging customers more than the city-sanctioned rates. This comes amidst a highly public fight over animal rights, the announcement that one of the city's few remaining stables will close, and a new proposal replace horse carriages with antique-looking cars.
A half-hour ride is supposed to cost $34, but an investigation revealed that six carriage drivers charged that much for just 20 minutes — and one driver charged $40 for a 20-minute jaunt while covering the city-mandated rate card with his raincoat. While the set rates for lengthier rides are supposed to increase by $10 for every 15 minutes, meaning a 45-minute trip should cost $44, some drivers quoted prices beginning at $60 for 45-minute jaunts. One website even advertises a half-hour ride for $78 and a 40-minute "lover's loop" trip for $98. Other drivers try to increase the rate by charging per passenger, not per trip.
Stephen Malone, a carriage owner and spokesman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, said the real problem is a city rule that forces drivers to follow a designated path in Central Park that they say takes just 20 minutes to complete. "We don't have a half-hour ride to give," said Malone, who noted that his organization has been pushing for the industry's first official rate hike since 1989, which would bring fares up to $50 for a 20-minute ride and $90 for 40 minutes. The city's Department of Consumer Affairs issued 37 violations against carriage drivers this year, most of them for overcharging, the paper reports.