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Monday, August 15, 2022
ArlingtonTransportationArlington board mulls relief for taxi drivers

Arlington board mulls relief for taxi drivers

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It may come a little late to undo the damage already done by spiraling gas prices, but Arlington County Board members will consider giving the local taxi industry some assistance on a short-term basis.

Board members on April 23 are slated to approve a May 14 public hearing that could lead to the authorization of a temporary $1-per-trip surcharge on existing taxi fares. If approved, the increase would be in effect from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Arlington is playing catch-up: The District of Columbia government in mid-March approved a similar surcharge for taxis in that jurisdiction. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on April 11 adopted a $1-per-trip surcharge, although that county’s taxi industry had requested $2 per trip (with all of it going to drivers, not the firms themselves).

The Arlington surcharge would be added to current fares, which open at $3 and then grow at a rate of 36 cents for each one-sixth-mile traveled. Those rates are unchanged since 2016 and will next be evaluated in 2023.

Surcharges are rare but not unheard of; County Board members in mid-2008 joined other localities in enacting them at a time when a gallon of gas had spiked to more than $4.10 in the local area.

Unlike the current proposal, which delays the start of the increase for several weeks after a mid-May enactment, the 2008 increase went into effect immediately (even though, as in the current situation, Arlington was late to enact a surcharge compared to surrounding jurisdictions).

The local taxi industry in recent years has been dramatically impacted by the emergence of ride-share firms such as Uber and Lyft, and was further impacted by a ridership dropoff during the COVID crisis.

As a result, the total number of cabs authorized by the county government to operate has declined from 847 in 2017 to 477 in 2022.

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