Howard panel backs surcharges for cabs

Transportation board to ask executive to OK increases for some rides

May 04, 2000|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

County cab rides might soon increase in price.

Recently, the Howard County Board of Transportation voted to recommend to County Executive James N. Robey approval of surcharges that would make cab rides more expensive.

The board voted to support these surcharges, said Carl Balser, chief of transportation planning for the county:

$2 for rides from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., to encourage more drivers to work the night shift to keep up with demand,

$2 for trips into other counties,

$1 for credit cards, to help defray processing costs,

$1 for more than six grocery bags,

All tolls incurred during the trip.

Frank Awuah, manager of Columbia Cab, said the surcharges are similar to those in effect in other counties. Columbia Cab is the biggest taxi company in the county, with a fleet of about 70 cabs.

The transportation board voted against a $5 surcharge for van trips and a 50-cents-per-trip gas surcharge to compensate for high gas prices, Balser said. Board members believed that a van was not adequately defined and that the gas surcharge also needed to be better defined.

Awuah said the van surcharge would help drivers because fewer vans are available and they often have to drive farther to get to a given pickup point. In a worst-case scenario, he said, a van may travel several miles to pick up passengers, only to travel a short distance from there for a small fare.

Howard County cab companies said they would refine the two rejected proposals and present them to the board later. The board's next meeting is May 22.

In January, the Howard County Council approved a slight increase in taxicab fares, the first increase since 1991.

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