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NYC Taxi fares see an increase of 17 percent

By Nicole Brown

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For the first time since 2004, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission increased the cab fare.

Last May, the commission received a proposal from the yellow cab industry to increase fares as much as 20 percent. After much consideration and the commission’s vote, NYTLC agreed to raise the fares by 17 percent in July. Under this change that took effect earlier this month, every one-fifth of a mile will cost 50 cents, instead of 40 cents, after the initial cost of $.50.

In 2004, the fare increased approximately 26 percent, and stop-and-go traffic calculations rose two years later.

NYTLC spokesman Allan Fromberg attributed the fare raise to the high gas prices.

“[The last increase] was swallowed up by gas prices, and drivers are making less than they were then,” Fromberg said.

Javaid Tariq, co-founder of a union of taxi cab drivers called New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said this increase was a major victory for the group.

The NYTWA has petitioned for years to increase taxi fares, holding demonstrations in front of city-wide garages that lease the taxis to the drivers.

Tariq said from leasing taxis and paying for gas every day, taxi drivers can pay more than $300 per day to work.

Economics professor Karl Storchmann said he understands the need for a fare increase.

“A raise of 17 percent in eight years translates into an average annual rise of .98 percent,” Storchmann said. “During the same time, the price of gasoline has risen from $.86 to $3.87 per gallon. That is a growth of 108 percent, or an average of 9.6 percent per year. Clearly, the 17 percent taxi fare raise looks fairly modest.”

Even though economics professor Lawrence White believes the rise is reasonable, he said there may be some decrease in ridership as a consequence.

But Tariq does not believe taxi business will suffer because fares in New York City are still cheaper than other parts of the country, especially when people travel in groups and split the fare.

Tisch sophomore Carlos Perez agreed.

“People will complain about price hikes, but at the end of the day I don’t think it will deter them from using the cab system because it’s such a huge part of their everyday lives,” Perez said.

However, Stern sophomore Arunima Penmetsa said the increase may hurt the industry.

“On one hand I’d say it would deter New Yorkers from taking cabs because there are already less expensive alternatives out there, so any rise in taxi fares would hurt demand or tips for drivers,” Penmetsa said.

Fromberg said the commission will begin exploring the fare again every two years to ensure that drivers can make a profit though gas prices continue to increase.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 13 print edition. Nicole Brown is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]

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