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Originally published Monday, July 15, 2013 at 2:26 PM

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Latest trend in taxicabs: 'vomit cleanup' charge

The agency that oversees St. Louis' taxi industry appears to be getting sick of passengers vomiting in cabs, and it's looking at charging passengers cleanup fees to pay for the mess.

The Associated Press

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ST. LOUIS —

The agency that oversees St. Louis' taxi industry appears to be getting sick of passengers vomiting in cabs, and it's looking at charging passengers cleanup fees to pay for the mess.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission is considering whether to join various other cities in enforcing taxi cleanup fees when drunken passengers spew or leave other bodily fluids behind, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday (http://bit.ly/15wmGsF).

The move follows complaints by cab drivers who say it can take hours to clean and disinfect a cab after someone has vomited, costing those drivers potential fares during the down time.

The amount of possible charges remains undecided, though the regulatory commission's executive director, Ron Klein, said the possible cleanup fees would be "reasonable" in compensating drivers for lost time and adequate cleaning.

"We're going to have more discussion about it," said Klein, a former sergeant in the St. Louis Police Department's traffic division.

Chicago already charges a $50 "vomit cleanup fee." In Austin, Texas, $100 is added to the trip fare if a passenger soils the taxi's interior with bodily fluids or solids.

Officials with the St. Louis commission acknowledge the issue can be a tricky one, given that driving inebriated people home - thus keeping them off the roads - is a vital function of taxis.

"We promote our cabs as being the ultimate designated driver," Klein said.

Paul Grisham, an independent cab driver, supports allowing drivers to charge passengers for cleanup costs, saying it was not uncommon for someone to vomit in his cab. Such passengers rarely offer to pay or help clean up the mess, he said.

Some observers also say imposing a fee would be appropriate.

"You're destroying someone's property," said Debi Seiffert of St. Louis. "I mean, if my friend puked in my car, they'd clean it up. Trust me."

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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