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The Voice of the NYC Transportation Industry — Current Issue

Rate of Fare Increase
Finally Coming !

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Taxi Insider Editorial by David Pollack

After nearly eight years of increased expenses in the taxi industry, the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission has finally proposed a rate of fare increase. In part, this increase of taxi fares may have been ignited by the sale of additional medallions by New York City. The other reason for the increase is simply that WE DESERVE IT! Read the actual increases on the TLC's industry notice printed in Taxi insider.

We all know the increased costs of living that we've experienced over the last eight years. The prices of a rental apartment have skyrocketed, as has the price of clothing and food. The reality of increased business expenses, including gasoline, vehicle maintenance, liability insurance, the price of a vehicle and workers compensation insurance has burdened this industry for eight long years. At least one of the above factors has made it more difficult for every taxi driver to earn as much money as they did eight years ago, regardless if they lease by the shift, lease a medallion long term or are owner-drivers.

A rate of fare increase is good news for the entire industry. Certain segments of this industry pay for either taxi vehicles, insurance, or repairs. Some pay for all the above including mechanics. Isn't it fair to give these segments (fleets/leasing agents) an increase in income too? Remember, there are no good guys or bad guys. We are all in the same industry and all have faced monetary increases. The taxi industry must strengthen the ties that unite us for any future efforts or positive goals.

Part of the proposal for a "fare adjustment" calls for a change in the waiting time. The present fare is 30 cents for every 90 seconds while the proposed waiting time is 40 cents per 120 seconds.
A number of day drivers have contacted me regarding the proposed "waiting time." Many drivers seem to feel that the traffic in Manhattan may actually reduce each new fare by 40 cents. Additionally, waiting time always includes vehicle movement under 8 MPH. "We can lose the 30 cents per fare we're making now and end up with less waiting time money if my waiting time is under 120 seconds at the end of my fare" I've been told again and again. Other day-drivers I have spoken with say $12 an hour waiting time, needs to be raised for a true increase for the day drivers due to traffic. One fact that nobody seems to realize is that the 8MPH tie-in with waiting time will be REDUCED to 6MPH with the new rate increase proposal. This is a hidden benefit.

Many night drivers have contacted me regarding the elimination of the 50-cent night surcharge. Drivers tell me that an additional dollar between 4p.m. and 8p.m. would have been fine if the 50-cent surcharge stayed in affect. Apparently traffic is at its' peak during those hours which means fewer fares per hour between 4p.m. and 8p.m. Some night drivers say by eliminating the 50 cent surcharge between 8p.m. and 6a.m., income may be reduced approximately $20 per evening, offsetting a portion of the increase in the initial "drop" and increased fare in mileage.
One driver told me that his Manhattan passengers "expect to pay more in the evening, up to $7 more for a dinner entree and more money for evening movies. Why are we getting more money one way and then it's taken away another way?" he said. Others say that since 9/11, business after 10:30 PM has slowly recovered but on some weeknights the city "is still dead."

Public hearings for this rate of fare increase reportedly will be in March. If you are a driver that has any comment on the proposed rate adjustment, this will be your chance to speak directly to the Commissioners. Register to speak at the public hearing and you will be heard!

Additionally proposed, are service improvements that include new credit card meters, GPS technology and scratchproof partitions. Who is going to pay for these improvements? We are. This rate increase makes it hard enough to recover the increased cost of doing business over the past eight years. Before we all start recovering the lost expenses, we may have to buy thousand-dollar meters and new partitions. When and how does that money get recovered?
Don't misunderstand me; I am thankful (as I'm sure all of you are) for the coming rate of fare increase. I hope all of us that incurred an increase in expense and all of us who will incur additional expenses are compensated appropriately. One way that would give some of us more time to shell out money would be to have new partitions and new meters installed as the old vehicles are retired, (only on new "hack-ups").

Drivers, every one of you told me that you constantly see FHV's picking up street hails illegally. I strongly urge all drivers to speak at the public hearing to voice a position of totally eliminating this illegal practice, in addition to your statements. Illegal street pick-ups must be eradicated. With no FHV's to pickup street hails, we will have more business (duh) and less traffic to contend with. My feeling is that a portion of the money earned from medallion sales, be used exclusively for enforcement of illegal pick-ups and to impound vehicles and revoke licenses of those FHV's illegally picking up our street hails. See you at the TLC hearing.

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