Come September, Philly taxi rate will tick up 2 cents

A group of taxicab companies hoped the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit would rule that Uber was violating anti-trust laws by flooding the market with drivers. Instead, the panel sided with Uber. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A group of taxicab companies hoped the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit would rule that Uber was violating anti-trust laws by flooding the market with drivers. Instead, the panel sided with Uber. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

With the rising number of Uber and Lyft drivers crowding Philadelphia’s streets, city cabbies are raising their rates to recoup lost income.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority Board recently approved a petition to increase the cab meter rate from 23 to 25 cents, starting Sept. 1.

The increase will help taxi cab drivers who are losing three fares a day to about 20,000 Ubers and Lyfts citywide, said Ronald Blount, president of the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania. The two-penny hike will add up to $5 to $7 a day, making up for one of the missed fares.

“We’re just trying to compensate without hurting the public or chasing people away. And we’re only asking for two pennies,” Blount said.

The 25 cents will be charged every tenth of a mile. Blount is not worried about losing customers, arguing the meter rate increase is minuscule. Factoring in the extra two pennies, he said, a ride from City Hall to the sports stadiums would be only 30 to 35 cents more come September.

But others in the industry are less certain the price shift will be progressive. Alex Friedman, president of the Pennsylvania Taxi Association, said he has mixed emotions.

“On the one hand, I would like our drivers to make a decent living well above the poverty line,” he said. “On the other hand, there is competition [from Uber and Lyft]. Maybe customers will find it too expensive. Or too unaffordable. Or too cumbersome.”

Though Blount believes the increase will make up for some of the lost fares, he hopes Philadelphia’s City Council looks into relieving the growing vehicle congestion. He said San Francisco and New York City have already taken strides to impose  limits on Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing enterprises.

“Philadelphia hasn’t done that. Philadelphia doesn’t seem to be interested in this added congestion,” he said. “Maybe the mayor should come out on a Friday night or on rush hours on the weekend and see how bad it has gotten.”

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