Seatle cab drivers talk about expected rate hikes

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by ALLEN SCHAUFFLER / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 7 at 7:27 AM

The cost of a cab ride to Sea-Tac Airport from downtown Seattle could soon jump from $32 to $40 one-way, and every other taxi ride around town would  go up too.

City regulators believe newly implemented workers compensation requirements from the state mean will require them to approve an increase in taxi rates to compensate drivers for increased costs.

Some drivers embrace the likely rate-hike, saying their costs have been going up steadily and the last jump in what they can charge came a full four years ago.

But not all cabbies are in favor of raising fares. Many say the competition for riders is intense, with town cars, for-hire flat-rate cars and increasing public transit options giving customers plenty of choices to pick from.

"Competition is tough," said driver Ahmad Dahir, "I don't think it's right."

Dahir said he thinks even a slight price hike will scare away customers and he'll lose business.

Salah Mohamed said he sees a rate-hike as a generally a good thing, but he added that it's not as simple as raising rates to cover higher costs.

"If they want to raise the meter, they gotta change a whole lot of things; like town cars need to be changed, 'for hire' cars need to be changed. Theres a whole lot of things attached to it," he said.

City regulators project that about 150,000 cab-rides will be lost in the first year with higher fares. But they believe net revenue will actually go up for the cab business as a whole.

"Because all the other trips that aren't lost are paying a lttle bit more," said Craig Leisy, an official in the city's consumer affairs office.

The city council could vote on the matter within a month.
 

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