Newsom opposes taxi fare hikes
Mayor Gavin Newsom tells a reporter earlier today that he opposes
a city controller-proposed taxi-fare hike citing negative impacts
to drivers and the environment.
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
October 11, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A city controller-proposed increase
in taxi fares drew criticism from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
today as supervisors in the budget and finance committee look
to propose changes by a Nov. 1 deadline.
The controversy around the cost of cab fares began in August
when the city controller released a report recommending cab companies
raise their gate fees - the price a cab driver must pay daily
to lease a taxi - and their basic fares both by 8.23 percent.
A local union for drivers and maintenance workers, United Taxicab
Workers, immediately opposed the increase and revealed that cab
companies have been overcharging their gate fees for years anyway.
Newsom sided with drivers, stating in a letter sent to members
of the budget and finance committee, which meets today, that an
increase in fares would impact the revenue of the city's drivers.
But Newsom expressed even more concern over the impact on ridership
and in turn the impact on the environment.
"Tens of thousands of local residents rely on taxis for
their daily transportation to and from work, to visit family and
friends, and to shop and eat in local businesses," Newsom
wrote. "Taxi fare hikes impact the local day-to-day cost
of living for these residents, who already face among the highest
cost of living in the U.S."
The controller's report cited rising gas costs and inflation
as reasons for the proposed increases. Unless the Board of Supervisors
passes a resolution otherwise, the hikes will go into effect Nov.
Two proposals are already on the table from supervisors Chris
Daly and Aaron Peskin.
Both proposals would increase fares and gate fees, but they would
only stay in effect if cab companies could agree on providing
a San Francisco-wide health plan.
The difference between the plans, however, is that Daly's proposal
would hold the hikes off until April 1, when the health package
Peskin's plan would increase prices immediately and then roll
them back if companies don't agree on medical benefits by April.
Newsom disagreed with passing on fuel costs to consumers. He
wrote that if gas prices were such a mitigating factor, then it
would make sense for taxi companies to invest in alternative fuel
or hybrid vehicles.
Average San Francisco cab fares are currently more expensive
than Chicago, Houston, New York, Los Angeles and several other
large cities, according to the controller's report.
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