Tuesday, The SFMTA agreed to formally consider the possibility of raising the meter rate for San Francisco taxis. The rate of $2.25 a mile and 45 cents per minute in traffic has not changed since 2003. Eight years later, gas prices, living expenses, and cab-rental costs have all risen, and cab drivers testified to the board that they are struggling to make a living now.
The only change to fares in that time period was a 25-cent increase to the minimum fare in 2006. Yet, the majority of cab drivers actually opposed that increase because it allowed the company owners to charge drivers a higher rental fee, only raised the price of short rides, and weakened their chance at a real pay raise in the future.
“Could you imagine if The City’s unions went eight years without a raise?” Mark Gruberg, spokesman for the United Taxicab Workers asked. “That’s what cab drivers are experiencing.”
Yesterday’s MTA meeting also included discussions of how to increase revenue for the agency. In addition to focusing efforts on more parking citations, they will also try to increase the sale of taxi medallions, a permit issued to cabs that costs $250,000.
The SFMTA started charging $250,000 for medallions almost a year ago. Before that, medallions were given out for a $1,600 and the average wait time for a permit was 15 years. The change in the program angered drivers who have been waiting for years to get a permit and now cannot afford the huge cost increase.
Medallion sales are expected to bring in about $10 million this fiscal year and will help in closing the $21 million deficit the agency faces this year.