The Maryland Public Service Commission today approved a 19 percent increase in Baltimore taxi fares.
Frank Fulton, PSC spokesman, said the new rates would be effective Sunday.
According to the PSC, the increase means that an average 5-mile trip, including a 2-minute waiting period, will cost $6.80 compared to $5.70 under current rates.
Fulton also said that in an effort to alleviate taxi shortages, the PSC would be releasing 68 cab permits that have been held in abeyance. The permits will be awarded by lottery at a date not yet set. Only drivers with six months of taxi-driving experience in Baltimore will be eligible.
Today's order followed an agreement reached last week between Baltimore cab companies and the National Federation of the Blind, which had criticized the taxi firms for poor response to service ordered by telephone. Under its terms, the federation agreed to support the rate increase. In exchange, the cab companies agreed to present the commission with a proposal to improve taxi response to telephone orders three months after the rate increase approval.
Under the tentative proposal, people ordering cabs by telephone would be charged an extra 75 cents or $1, but they would not have to pay the fee if a cab arrived more than 15 minutes after the agreed pickup time.
Fulton said that as part of today's order, a second phase, including a hearing this summer, will examine the issues of call service and a surcharge for it.
"We will be looking at a relationship between rates and service, and we'll be look at what Mr. [James] Gashel and some parties to the case have proposed," Fulton said.
Gashel is a director of public affairs for the federation.
The taxi firms' original request for the 19 percent increase was rejected in late March by a PSC hearing examiner after Gashel's group complained about poor telephone service.