Taxi fare to increase throughout the city

Finding a taxi cab can be a daunting task that takes a lot patience and, now with a fare increase that was approved Monday, more dollars in your pocket.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency representative Paul Rose said the SFMTA board unanimously approved a measure to increase the taxi starting fare from $3.10 to  $3.50 in order to put more cabs in the street and give cab drivers a higher wage.

“The increase was made to improve the quality of life for our drivers and to improve the quality of our work,” Rose said.

The approval came after years of meeting with cab drivers who voiced their concerns. The plethora of honking horns and loud protest put on display during the taxi strike in June were partly due to the lengthy amount of time it took to get the measure approved. Cab owner Ray Fuller said the displeasure had to be seen and heard so people would understand the struggles of being a cab driver in San Francisco.

“I’m not worried about more cabs in the street,” Fuller said. “The increase will make up for lack of business. It was a long time coming. It’s here so I’m happy.”

Cab owner Martin Noguera describes long 12 hour shifts as unsatisfying with the amount of money he takes home. He’s been driving with the check engine light on for month because he assumes it will be too expensive to fix.

“It’s been a long time since our last raise,” Noguera said. “I remember the cost of gas a lot cheaper. Twenty bucks used to fill up my tank.”

One of the biggest concerns for the city has been the lack of available taxis during peak times. But with 85 more cabs hitting the streets, pedestrians should be able to wave one down without the frustration of countless cabs passing by.

The starting price for a cab will be raised 55 cents. The meter rate increases 50 cents for every mile with a charge of 10 cents for every minute stuck in traffic.

Some people support the increase due to the high cost of living in San Francisco. SF State English major Rosalie Rivas supports the fare increase.

“The cab drivers have to make a living,” Rivas said. “They deserve a raise with all the people that they have to deal with on late nights and the difficulty of driving around in San Francisco.”

The taxi increase may make others choose to use alternate methods of transportation. However, BART stops running around midnight and buses can be crowded and off-schedule, which forces taxi users to face the increase.

Frequent cab user John Jansen doesn’t mind the 50 cent increase since it should make it easier to catch a cab, but believes getting around San Francisco is getting too expensive.

“I might need to take my bike out more often,” Jansen said. “Getting from spot to spot in the city is going to start hurting my wallet.”