SJ to debate higher cab rates

August 5, 2008 12:00:13 PM PDT
By the time the San Jose city council adjourns on Tuesday, hailing a cab in that city could cost a lot more money. Blame it on the rising cost of gasoline. And if you're counting on mass transit to help you dodge soaring pump prices you may be in for a surprise.

In this situation you could get hit no matter what choice you make - whether it's Caltrain or a cab.

"It is very difficult right now with gas prices," said Navtej Pell, taxi driver.

It is difficult to deny that, especially if you are taxi cab driver and getting a passenger is difficult.

"I've been waiting here for four hours and have not gotten one fare. So we are averaging about $2 to $3 per hour," said Shakti Singh, taxi driver.

"We are hoping the city will do something to help us," said Pell.

And on Tuesday, San Jose may do something indeed. There are proposals on the table to increase the base cab fare from $2.50 to $3.50 - raising the charge for mile by 50-cents and amending the fuel surcharge formula to give operators flexibility as gas prices change.

"We have these independent operators, these taxicab drivers, who have no control over market conditions and no control over their pricing. As a result they and their families are suffering right now," said Pete Constant, San Jose City Council.

Also on the table - a minimum charge for all airport pick-ups of $15 - no matter where you're headed.

Caltrain says the cost of its fuel has gone up almost 33-percent over the past two years. There are two proposals coming down that pike; one to raise the base fare by a quarter and another to raise both the base fare and the cost of each zone by a quarter apiece.

"I don't like of it because my allowance is going down," said a commuter.

And even some cab passengers are willing to pay up.

"The people that can afford to take taxis are the ones that can afford to pay that little bit extra. The ones driving the taxis are ones that need the extra," said Clara Chorley, taxi passenger.

The San Jose City Council is set to discuss this at around 3:30 pm on Tuesday. Caltrain is going to hold a public hearing about its proposal on September 4th, but that increase wouldn't potentially take place until next year.

Click here to read Anne Makovec's Back Story blog about cab fare increase proposals around the Bay Area.


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