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Taxi fares to rise; commission hopeful bows out

(Published March 13, 2000)

By OSCAR ABEYTA

Staff Writer

A series of rate hikes proposed by the D.C. Taxicab Commission would increase the base taxi fare by 50 percent or more during rush hours and at night if the changes are approved by the city council and the mayor.

The commission voted March 7 to impose a temporary 50 cent per trip surcharge to cover rising gasoline costs. The surcharge would be in effect from April 15 through August 13, unless the taxicab commission chooses to extend that period.

The commission is also considering raising taxi rates by 25 percent across the board and adding a $1 per trip nighttime surcharge to be in effect from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. The panel also will consider a 10 cent per trip temporary surcharge to help taxi drivers defray the cost of installing safety devices such as shields or cameras, even though the commission hasnít voted to make any safety devices mandatory.

The rate changes, with the exception of the gasoline surcharge, will get another public hearing next month. If the commission approves any of the proposed hikes, they will still need council and mayoral approval before they take effect. Any permanent rate hikes likely would not affect passengers before the beginning of the year. Taxi rates were last raised three and a half years ago.

If all the rate changes proposed are approved and the commission decides to extend the gasoline surcharge, that would raise the base taxi rate from $4 to as high as $6.60 at nights and during rush hours. The most expensive rate would climb from $12.50 to $16.70.

In a related matter, two days after word got out that former New York transportation department chief Christopher Lynne was to be named chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission, Lynne withdrew his name amid a flurry of press reports about investigations into instances of abuse of power and about his alleged ties to drug dealers in New York. None of the charges involving Lynneís association with alleged drug dealers were ever proved.

Lynn met with each taxi commissioner individually on March 10 in preparation for his nomination. But the press reports beat him into town and before the day was out Lynne had withdrawn his name. It is not clear he was asked by the mayorís staff to withdraw his name or if he withdrew it of his own accord. Lynne was to have replaced interim Chairman George Crawford.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator