Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
The price of taking a cab will be going up in the fall.
New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission voted Thursday to approve a fare hike that would increase the cost of a ride by 17 percent.
The TLC estimates that the average fare of $10.44 would rise to $12.21 after the increase is expected to go into effect in September. The plan increases the mileage and waiting charges, but not the base fare of $2.50.
The flat fee between Manhattan and Kennedy Airport would jump from $45 to $52 and the surcharge to/or from Newark Liberty International Airport would also rise from $15 to $17.50.
Commissioner David Yassky said even though New Yorkers will be paying more, they also realize it’s the right time. “Most passengers that I talked to understand that after six years it’s only reasonable to increase the taxi fare,” Yassky commented.
Six commissioners, including Yassky, voted to approve the hike, two voted no, and one abstained.
Cabbies attending the meeting cheered as they learned the measure they fought hard for was passed.
They were also were pleased by several other aspects of the proposal, including replacing the 5 percent-per-swipe credit card fees with a flat $10.00 fee per shift charge and establishing a driver heath fund.
There had been much angling behind the scenes by large taxi fleet owners who said they also deserved an increase in leasing rates because their costs were also rising. Borough Commissioners from Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn appeared to agree with them when they spoke and voted against the plan. Staten Island Commissioner Elias Arout described giving drivers a raise and not the garages “lopsided.”
Michael Woloz, a spokesman with the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, no stranger to litigating with the city, said they’re reviewing their options. “Time and time again when the TLC has passed unlawful rules we have fought them and the courts have affirmed our position,” Woloz said.
But Bhairavi Desai, head of the drivers group Taxi Workers Alliance, said not having to share the increase with rich medallion owners was a triumph. “We just defeated the 1 percent. We don’t have their money, their lobbyists, or their P.R. people,” a tearful Desai said. ”Today is evidence that working people can still win in this society.”
The commission said going forward, it would consider lease and fare increases every odd numbered year so that neither side of the industry had to wait so long to for an increase again.
Fares last went up in 2006 when waiting time charges increased. The last time overall cab fees rose was 8 years ago, when a 26 percent increase passed.