Philly Taxi Fare Plan Gets Mixed Response From Drivers

A Parking Authority proposal to raise city taxi fares by an estimated 8 percent drew mixed reviews yesterday from factions of the city’s taxi industry.

Spokesmen for several taxi fleets, dispatch companies and medallion owners said the increase is fair and justified by higher costs – including gas, more stringent maintenance requirements, license and inspection fees, and the heavy fines handed out by the Parking Authority for safety or maintenance violations.

But the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania – representing 1,200 cabbies who generally rent their cabs and medallions by the day or week – opposed the boost.

Its leader, Ron Blount, claimed that business already is declining because rates are too high, and that dispatches have dropped off because of faulty equipment mandated by the Parking Authority. He predicted that taxi and medallion owners would gobble up the proceeds of a fare increase, allowing little money to stay with the drivers.

Jim Ney, director of the Parking Authority’s taxicab and limousine division, said that he’d review the testimony and make a final recommendation to the authority’s board, in time for action at next month’s meeting on Feb. 25.

Ney is responsible for the proposal, which would keep the initial flag-drop charge at $2.70, incorporating what’s now a 40-cent fuel surcharge. The distance charge would climb from $2.10 to $2.30 a mile, and waiting time would go from $20 to $22 an hour.
The flat-rate charge between Center City and Philadelphia International Airport would rise from $26.25 to $28.50.

“Now that we’ve professionalized service for the public, it’s time to give something back to the drivers,” said Timothy O’Brien, chairman of a volunteer taxi and limousine advisory board, which was set up by the Parking Authority and which has endorsed the increases.

While the industry factions split on raising fares, there were many protests about the credit- card/dispatch/GPS devices installed in every cab under orders from the Parking Authority.

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