Political power and an impending cab fare hikeBy
The most recent increase to the city’s taxi fare structure arrived in 2009 in the form of a 50-cent MTA surcharge, but New York City taxi fares haven’t been restructured since 2004. Cab drivers, who are fighting higher gas prices and a dollar that doesn’t go as far, have been agitating for an increase, and Taxi and Limousine Commission is poised to oblige. In a vote on Thursday, the TLC is expected to authorize a hike that will raise fares by an average of 17 percent per ride.
The details are fairly simple: The $2.50 pick-up fee will remain the same, but a meter tick will jump from 40 cents to 50. A trip from JFK to Manhattan will cost $52 while the Newark Airport surcharge will rise to $17.50. For the benefit of taxi riders, the credit card surcharge on drivers will shift to a flat fee of $9 from its current five percent levy. The TLC believes this move will lead cabbies to be more accepting of plastic.
Although the fare structure is straightforward, the back-and-forth over the proposed hike highlights the battles that impact that taxi industry. The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which represents medallion owners, slammed the proposal as retaliation for their lawsuit against the Outer Borough medallion program while the New York Taxi Workers Alliance criticized the modest increase in lease fees the new fare structure will bring.
As Michael Powell eloquently wrote in today’s Times, these are the battles that shape the taxi industry. Wealthy, centralized medallion owners control the purse strings and our local politicians while drivers who make less today than they did a few years ago garner little respect from anyone. Soon, we’ll all be paying more for cabs, and no one, it seems, will be too happy.