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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
ArlingtonTransportationTaxi drivers get temporary help from Arlington leaders

Taxi drivers get temporary help from Arlington leaders

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Arlington County Board members on May 14 approved a surcharge on taxi fares to help cabbies survive the high-gas-price environment the nation now finds itself in.

There will now be a $1-per-trip surcharge tacked onto the final fare in place from June 1 to Nov. 30. The surcharge, sought by local taxi companies, is recommended by county-government staff and was supported by the Transportation Commission.

(The extra dollar will go to drivers, if they are independent contractors who pay for their own gasoline.)

The Arlington surcharge will 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.

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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.

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.

Also on May 14, County Board members voted to increase the allowable age of taxi vehicles from the current 10 years to between 12 and 15 years, depending on the type of vehicle.

The county government also is working to promote the availability of wheelchair-accessible cabs, County Board Chairman Katie Cristol said, because they provide a lifeline to some residents and often are not available through Uber, Lyft and the like.

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