Taxi Fares Rise, and Only the Oil Companies Win

20061025taxi.jpg
Photo: iStockphoto.com


Going nowhere is about to get more expensive. The Taxi and Limousine Commission is set to approve a long-discussed stealthy increase in cab fares. The basic rates stay the same — $2.50 to start, 40 cents per quarter-mile, that infuriating little rush-hour surcharge you never remember as you plop into the seat — but now the cabs will charge more for "wait time," the minutes spent idling or stuck in slow traffic. Together with the city's current rash of massive construction and repair projects, this creates a perfect circle: One hand creates gridlock, the other charges you for it. We smell a conspiracy!

Well, maybe not. In reality, the pinch you'll feel is unlikely to top a dollar per ride. And before we start bemoaning the new reality of a $10 crosstown hop, let's remember that cabbie wages have been almost completely stagnant since 1979, when the drivers won the right to charge that 50-cent fee for late-night rides. The recent oil woes erased the effects of the 2004 rate increase, and they will do the same to this one: The average cab picks up 30 fares a day, so the drivers are looking at a paltry $30 extra in their coffers. A mere uptick in gas prices is enough to make it disappear.

Also expected to pass — an impeccably logical proposal to make a trip to JFK cost as much as a trip from JFK: a flat fare of $45. And it only took them ten and a half years — the first JFK flat fare started in January 1996 — to come up with it.

Cab to Cost Ya an Extra Buck [NYDN]