City officials are expected to approve a taxi fare increase this week that would sock passengers with a 17 percent rate hike, but at the Taxi and Limousine Commission's public hearing on the hike in Lower Manhattan on Monday, some of the loudest outcry came not from the riding public, but from taxi owners. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
It has been six years now since yellow taxi fares saw a significant increase, and during those six years, drivers have been hit with soaring gas prices and new credit card processing fees.
"A driver is actually earning less today than six years ago, when the current fare levels were set. I don’t think anybody would think that a system is sustainable on that basis,” said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky.
The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission is looking to boost drivers’ income with a proposed rate increase that would see the cost of the average ride go up 17 percent.
While the base charge would remain $2.50, the unit charge, or each tick of the meter, would increase from 40 to 50 cents.
The flat fare between Manhattan and John F. Kennedy International Airport would go from $45 to $52 dollars.
Six cents from each trip would go to drivers' health care.
“We’re really happy to see these rules finally being proposed,” said Bhairavi Desai of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance
But while individual drivers and their advocates who packed Monday's public hearing generally applauded the plan, large fleet owners said they are the losers.
Under the proposal, they can now charge drivers $9 more per shift to lease a taxi, but they say that is offset by the fact they are now responsible for those credit card fees.
"It is time that there is a rent-a-rate of fare increase, but that rate of fare increase should be equitable. It should be across the board,” said Ethan Gerber of the Greater New York Taxi Association.
“Drivers deserve an increase, okay. But without the garages, without the mechanics, without the dispatchers, without the medallion owners, without the operators, there is no taxi industry,” said Michael Woloz of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission is expected to vote on the rate increase on Thursday. If approved, it would likely take effect sometime in September.