The investigation, published Friday, found that out of about 7,000 complaints made against cabbies in 2010, 18 cabdrivers lost their licenses and seven had them permanently revoked. Many repeat, dangerous offenders are often just given fines.
Citizens' complaints against cabbies are handled by separate agencies that can take the worst drivers off the roads without going through the court system.
"We try to make them the best they can be. When that fails, then they're out," said Rosemary Krimbel, commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which oversees taxi regulation. "Sometimes those are hard calls, and we have to make them."
However, veteran driver Bill Burns says the system for citizen complaints is mostly about making money.
"It is not about the facts," Burns said of the disciplinary process. "It is about the money."
The Tribune report also showed than most citizen complaints don't go far, with fewer than 25 percent of reckless driving complaints being sent to a quasi-court for discipline.
City officials speculated that many cases lacked enough details to proceed to prosecution. They also said the complaint process can be difficult to navigate and can take some time for complainants.