Taxi Fare Hikes, Cab Leases Fire Up Debate At TLC Hearing

Proposed taxi fare hike and cab lease caps brought up fierce debate at May 31st public meeting of the Taxi and Limousine Commission in Lower Manhattan, as cab owners said the base fare needs to be raised for the first time since 2006 and drivers claimed that high cab leases eat away their earnings. NY1’s Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.

It didn’t take long for tempers to flare at the Taxi and Limousine Commission hearing on raising cab fares.

The TLC is considering a fare increase of up to 20 percent. But the issue that generated the real heat wasn’t how high fares might go; it was who would get the money.

The drivers say any fare hike would quickly get passed on to the owners of the cabs they lease.

“In my opinion, if they raise the fair for the cabs, automatically the broker will raise the leases so it will be no benefit for the driver,” said one cab driver.

The TLC says all of the money from the last increase went to the drivers, not the fleets. Still, drivers point out that gas prices are 45 percent higher than they were six years ago and they have to pay for the gas.

“If the gas goes down, that is the best thing,” a second cab driver said. “We’ll make much better money.”

Fleet owners say they’re hurting, too. They’re hoping to increase lease caps to cover costs they say have been skyrocketing.

“Expecting any business to absorb 16 years with rising costs, eight years without any offset, would seem by any standard to be unfair,” said Peter Mazer of the Metropolitan Taxi Cab Board of Trade.

But TLC commissioner David Yassky says fleet owners have also benefitted from inflation.

“Their medallion values have doubled in the last six years,” he said. “So you have to weigh all the factors and come out with the most fair outcome.”

Right now, the average cab fare is $11.82. With a 20 percent increase, the average would be $14.18.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission will make a decision in July. However, Commissioner Yassky says the rate increase will likely go into effect. If it does, it would be implemented this summer.

Source: NY1

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