A proposed fare hike got a surprising vote of support Wednesday from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commissioner but still faces opposition from the chairman of the City Council's transportation committee. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
It comes as no surprise that taxi drivers want passengers to pay more. There has not been a fare hike since 2006 and rising gas prices mean less take-home pay for those behind the wheel.
But what may come as a surprise is that the city's taxi commissioner seems to agree with drivers that it is time to raise the fare.
"Drivers really are getting hurt," said David Yaasky, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commissioner. "I think the case for a fare hike is strong. Now, the issue is, how big, what is the right magnitude and how to structure it."
Any fare hike would have to be approved by the city's taxi and limousine commission. The first public hearing on fare hike proposals will be held next week. Yassky says he expects a vote in July.
"We understand, in this economy, nobody wants to pay more for anything," he said. "At the same time, driver's incomes have actually gone down. A driver is taking home maybe 15, 20 percent less than he was six years ago."
The chairman of the City Council's transportation committee says a 20 percent fare increase would be too high.
"I think that number is going to hit a lot of people where it hurts," said James Vacca. "And I think it may even hurt taxi drivers because I think many people will not use taxis or stop tipping as they do."
While the prospect of a fare hike may be getting some New Yorkers down, others are celebrating a new way to travel on the streets of New York.
Disability advocates hailed a new taxi cab design that they say will make travel pleasant and easy for wheelchair-bound New Yorkers.
The taxi was made by the Vehicle Production Group. The model will be among the 2,000 new wheelchair-accessible taxis to hit the road in the next few years.