Cabbies say fare hikes fall short

Cabbies say fare hikes fall short

By: Liz Essley | 01/11/12 8:05 PM
Examiner Staff Writer | Follow on Twitter @lizessley

District taxi cab drivers expressed their outrage over proposed fare increases at a hearing Wednesday, saying the rate hikes weren’t high enough and that the new rules limiting the age of cabs would hurt the industry.

The testy hearing dissolved into shouting several times, with D.C. Taxicab Commissioner Ron Linton repeatedly calling for quiet and ordering one cabbie advocate to step away from the microphone before he finished speaking.

"I don’t care what you think of the individuals sitting up here that have been appointed to this position. I am a citizen of the District of Columbia; I didn’t ask for this job. I was asked to take it. But I am going to demand respect for the Commission as an instrument of the people of the District of Columbia," Linton told the room packed with cab drivers.

The Commission last month proposed raising per mile fares from $1.50 to $2.16. It also wants to raise the waiting charge — the meter costs racked up when a cab is stuck in traffic or traveling below 10 mph – from $15 an hour to $25.

But the Commission also proposed eliminating many of the surcharges consumer groups have complained about, including the baggage fee and extra passenger fee.

Many taxi cab drivers opposed the elimination of the surcharges and proposed higher per-mile rates. Two drivers compared the current rates to "sharecropping."

Examiner Archives
· Opposition mounts to D.C. taxi rate hike (11/29/11)
· D.C. likely to raise taxi rates (11/27/11)
· Gray eyes additional D.C. taxi fare surcharge (9/27/11)

Others voiced more frustration with the Commission’s proposal to update the cab fleet. The proposed rule requires all new taxis to be less than 5-years-old. Existing cabs can’t be older than 7 years or have a mileage higher than 400,000.

"We are looking for economic justice," cab driver Bililigne Senbet said. "They are trying to make us a sacrificial lamb for the automotive industry, for banks and for the insurance industry."

Not all cabbies were unhappy with the proposed rules. Cab driver Dona Burney drew boos and shouts from her fellow cabbies after claiming that the new rules would increase her income by 20 percent.

"Twenty percent sounds good to me," she said. "This new rate is a win for the drivers and a win for the public."

The public has until Jan. 23 to comment on the proposed fare increase and other changes. Unless Linton and his fellow commissioners decide to significantly change the proposal, the new rules will take effect Feb. 3.


Read more at the Washington Examiner:

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