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Taxi agency proposes 26% rate increase

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The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission has proposed a 26 percent taxi fare increase, the first in eight years, with the possibility that it could take effect this spring.

The TLC is also looking at requiring taxis to accept credit cards and Global Positioning technology among other new customer services.

The taxi commission would raise the base fare — the amount registering on the meter when the driver drops the flag — by 50 cents to $2.50 with every fifth of mile on the meter adding 40 cents to the meter rather than the present 30 cents.

The new rules would add a $1 surcharge for a taxi hailed between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday as an incentive to drivers at the evening rush hour period, The present 50-cent night surcharge would be abolished.

The flat fare to John F. Kennedy International airport would go up from $35 to $45. The surcharge to Newark International Airport would rise from $10 to $15.

The average ride under the fare increase would mean that the average trip of 2.5 miles would cost $8.45 ($9.45 during peak hours), up from $6.85. The waiting time would rise from 30 cents per 90 seconds to 40 cents per 120 seconds.

Still under discussion are what the taxi commission calls customer service improvements. The commission said such features would “utilize current technologies to bring the taxicab into the 21st century, making taxicabs smarter, safer and more user friendly.”

Among service improvements under discussion are group ride taxi stands, improved partitions separating passengers and drivers, Global Positioning Systems for in-car mapping capabilities and automated data collection.

“These improvements would enhance the taxi fleet’s technological capabilities, passenger convenience and driver accountabi­lity,” said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Matthew Daubs. “With some fine tuning, we can bring the already high quality of taxicab service to the next level. We look forward to receiving public feedback on these proposals over the next several weeks.”

Allan Fromberg, a spokesman for the commission, said the process toward a fare hike would begin with a public notice that hearings would be held next month.

After the hearings, the nine-member commission would vote on final approval after which the fare increase could take effect perhaps sometime in April, Fromberg said.

The last fare increase took effect in March 1996.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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