Baltimore taxi rates will increase by 19 percent if the state Public Service Commission accepts a settlement presented today to a PSC hearing examiner.
The settlement among the taxi companies, PSC staff and the People's Counsel, which represents rate payers before the PSC, would allow cabs to charge $1 a mile. The current rate is 80 cents a mile. The initial charge, or "drop" fee, will remain at $1.40, but it will be for the first tenth of a mile rather than the first eighth. The cost for keeping a cab waiting will increase from 20 cents a minute to 25 cents a minute, said PSC spokesman Frank B. Fulton.
For example, for a five-mile trip with two minutes of waiting time the charge, now $5.70, would rise to $6.80.
The settlement, presented to hearing examiner O. Ray Bourland, must be approved by Bourland and the five-member Public Service Commission. The commission has a month to make its decision, Fulton said.
The cab companies have agreed not to raise their fees to drivers for 18 months, thus assuring the cabbies they will see whatever profit the higher rates bring, said Donald F. Rogers, assistant People's Counsel.
The PSC will hold a public hearing at 7 o'clock tonight at the commission's office, on the 14th floor at 231 E. Baltimore St. A hearing planned for tomorrow has been canceled, Fulton said. Comments about the settlements and complaints about cab service by representatives of the blind are expected, Rogers said.
The rate increase is supported by major companies such as Yellow Cab Co., Sun Cab Co. and Royal Taxi Cab, said Rogers.
The last time taxi drivers requested a rate increase was in 1987, Rogers said. That request was denied by the PSC because the companies could not show good cause.
This time, Rogers predicted, the approval will come because companies have shown that increased gasoline costs have put a dent in their take-home profits.
Another factor contributing to the expected favorable action on the increase was testimony from cab companies that Baltimore had the lowest fares in the country.