Council members likely to add $1 to cost of cab ride

Rise not expected to offset costs, say managers of taxi companies

August 31, 2005|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,SUN STAFF

If the local taxi industry gets its way, taking a cab will cost $1 more per ride because of rising gas prices.

An Anne Arundel County Council proposal will be discussed and voted on Tuesday, and several members said it is likely to pass unanimously. Because it has been deemed "emergency legislation" by the council, it would go into effect immediately.

While several local taxi company managers said the increase is a step in the right direction, many complained that it would not be enough.

County officials said they considered rate hikes that would allow taxi fares to fluctuate with gas prices, but they decided on the $1 surcharge.

"We will not use the formula at this point," said County Council Chairman Ronald C. Dillon Jr., who sponsored the bill. "The dollar increase should be sufficient for the taxicab operators. Now, if it gets to $3.50 a gallon, we may have to look at it again."

The latest increase comes nearly a year after Anne Arundel County raised rates, and five months after increases went into effect in Annapolis. In July, cab drivers in Baltimore City and Baltimore County got their first rate increases since 1998, with a five-mile ride increasing to $10.15 from $8.50 in the city and $8.60 in the county. Howard County rate increases went into effect Aug. 1, with a five-mile ride going up to about $8.50 from $6.25 for one person during business hours.

Average gas prices in Maryland yesterday stood at $2.66 a gallon for regular unleaded, up from $1.85 a gallon at the same time last year, according to AAA.

George Gilmore, manager of AA Taxi Service Inc., based near Fort Meade, said $1 more per ride will make little difference for his company.

"Most of our cabs go 600 miles a day, so $1 a ride won't do much," Gilmore said. "We do a lot of trips to [Washington Dulles International Airport, in Virginia], and from Dulles to Fort Meade is $100. One dollar is not going to affect that ride at all."

Robert Eades, owner of Neet-N-Klean Taxi Co., said rising gas prices have cut into his profit by about 15 percent this year.

"Anything will help, but whether this is the answer, I don't know," Eades said.

Eades said the cost of virtually everything having to do with taxis has gone up over the past year, pointing to tires and motor oil, and other products often shipped by truck.

"We're expected to provide the same services but not to have the increase passed on to the customer," he said. "We're getting hit from three different directions: gas prices, costs of materials and loss of customers."

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