Starts & Stops

Marty Walsh vows to fight cab-related attacks

Though Boston licensed taxis are currently required to be predominantly white in color, Representative Marty Walsh says that’s not good enough.
Though Boston licensed taxis are currently required to be predominantly white in color, Representative Marty Walsh says that’s not good enough.Credit: (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe)

Representative Marty Walsh, one of the 12 candidates in the Boston mayor’s race, responded Thursday to news of two recent, and frightening, incidents of taxi-related assaults that occurred in the last three weeks.

In each incident, a woman was sexually assaulted after she tried to hail a cab late at night but was instead picked up by a vehicle without a proper taxi license.

“I will do whatever it takes to limit predators’ opportunities to commit violent acts against women via the taxi system,” Walsh said in a statement.

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His answer to the problem: Require that all licensed Boston cabs have “uniform appearance practices,” such as Patriots- or Celtics-themed taxicabs.

The city already has several requirements: Licensed Boston taxis must be predominantly white in color, and they must have a police hackney unit medallion on the back as well as vinyl lettering on the side of the cab that reads “BOSTON LIC. TAXI.”

But Walsh says that’s not good enough.

He says he plans to follow through on a plan floated several years ago. The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center conducted a survey and learned that women felt uneasy in taxis largely because they found it difficult to distinguish which were licensed. The organization partnered with Suffolk University, Boston police, and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design to create a design that would make all cabs look more similar — and would feature colors of Boston sports teams.

“We owe it to the women of Boston and all residents to address this issue,” Walsh said. “It can’t wait any longer.”

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