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County Board Approves Increase in Taxicab Fares

by ARLnow.com November 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm 3,025 38 Comments

Arlington will soon have the highest per-mile regulated taxicab fare of any major D.C. area jurisdiction.

After about 2 hours of discussion, the Arlington County Board decided to eschew a recommendation from county staff to increase the initial cab charge (“drop fee”) by 25 cents and the extra passenger charge by 50 cents, instead opting to increase the per-mile charge by 10 cents.

Starting on Jan. 1, 2012, cab trips originating in Arlington County will cost $2.10 per mile, compared to $1.50 per mile in the District and $2.00 per mile in Fairfax and Montgomery counties.

The fare increase will bump up the cost of the average cab ride in Arlington — about 5 miles, according to county staff — by $0.50 and will increase the cost of a 25 mile trip to Dulles Airport by $2.50. The $0.10 per mile increase was presented to the Board as an “alternative” by county staff, which argued that raising the drop fee and extra passenger charge would be less costly for most passengers, while still compensating cab drivers for an approximately 5 percent increase in expenses since the last fare hike in 2008.

In the end, the Board voted 5-0 for the $0.10 per mile increase, plus a provision to raise the minimum age for the extra passenger charge from 6 to 12. County staff’s recommendations — to increase the extra passenger charge and the drop fee, and to require all Arlington cabs to accept credit cards — were all rejected by the Board.

In arguing against increasing the drop fee, County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said that he was worried about increasing the cost to lower-income individuals who use taxicabs to make short trips to places like the grocery store. He said that longer trips, like those to Dulles, are “more likely to be put on an expense account.”

While Arlington’s main cab drivers’ association supported the mileage increase, some individual cab drivers who spoke before the Board on Saturday said they were worried that the increase could actually hurt business.

“With the hardship that is going on right now, it is not the right time to increase the fare,” one driver said.

The per-mile fare increase will increase the cost of the county’s STAR para-transit program — which utilizes taxis to transport lower-income disabled individuals — by $29,224, according to data supplied by county staff.

  • DudeGuy

    Awesome, another reason to move out of the Arlington area. I can’t WAIT!

    • drax

      Then go. Please.

      • DudeGuy

        Don’t worry I will. Arlington County is just getting more expensive with not as balanced “perks”

  • Chipper J.

    Taxi Fares are already too high and most taxi drivers seem to be the rudest people on the planet. Boo to this.

    • drax

      Everything I have to pay is too high. My salary, however, is too low.

      • Michelle

        Really? I see you all the time commenting on this blog during what appear to be “normal business hours.” Are you sure you’re not receiving fair pay for what you do? Just a thought.

        • Dan


        • SomeGuy

          Well played, Michelle.

        • Andrew


        • Dan

          That was funny.

      • zzzzz

        If you put it in quotes, maybe they would get it…

  • novasteve

    Way to encourage drunk driving Arlington. But we’re all safe, smoking has been banned and there’s only safe alcohol left in bars. So let’s all start driving cars to and from bars now. We are safe!

    • AllenB

      Riiiight.. the extra $0.10 per mile is going to encourage drunk driving. That’s quite a reach.

      • novasteve

        Do you want to take that risk?

  • UnlimitedCustoms

    Another great move by the county.

    I really liked the bit that Zimmerman had about how its mainly business travels going to Dulles that will be affected.

    • Lou

      Where does he come up with this stuff?

    • charlie

      good question.
      i’ve always felt that Zimmerman leads his little life and that of his sock puppets and thinks everyone else does.
      but the fact is that we do drive cars, we do leave the county borders, we ride cabs to bars and back —
      I firmly believe that Zimmie thinks that if he doesn’t do it then no one else should do it. LISTEN, please. Not everyone is you (thank goodness) and we have wide range of interests.

      • zzzzz

        On the other hand, I haven’t taken a taxi in years, and the only reasons I would have for calling a cab would be to go to the airport or if I had a medical reason for not being able to drive. I don’t take cabs to/from bars because I don’t drink if I have to drive. So the question is, are there more people like you in the county or more people like me? I honestly don’t know, but I would think they had some statistics available when the county staff made their recommendations.

        • charlie

          well it seems to me that there are more and more cabs on the streets so that would suggest more and more riders/consumers are available.

          Dulles airport is 24 miles away. That ride just increased by $2.40 each way.

          it used to cost $48.00 to go to the airport. Plus 15% tip. $54. plug bag fees and extra person fee — $60.

          now it is $50.40 to go to Dulles. 15% tip takes it to $57. plug in bag and extra person it is up to $63. SOOOOO $126.00 to get to the airport and back?

          Is this a deliberate attempt to make the future long trip on the METRO worthwhile?

          • NovApologist

            At that rate you could park for almost two weeks in the Dulles economy lot or 7 days in the daily lots or 4 days of valet parking.

          • UnlimitedCustoms

            But only the big bad business men take a cab out to Dulles… Because they aren’t paying for it.

          • PaulyD

            So tip less. Make it 10%. That used to be the going tip rate for cabs.

    • Out of touch.

  • Andrew

    Interesting that is $0.60 more per mile than DC… I would have thought the other way around…

  • ArlingtonChick

    The Board should have required all cabs to become the Karaoke Cab in exchange for the fee increase.

    • CrystalMikey


  • Abe Froman

    I am surprised all the people who bitched about the cost of parking around the bars in north Arlington haven’t jumped all over this one.

  • GC

    Called Saturday night @6:30 p.m. Red Top and Yellow Top for a taxi to DC. Waited for 20 mintues for Red Top with just the message not to hang up or I’d lose my place in line, called Yellow Top as a backup and phone was constantly busy. So having had a few coctails, I drove to Clarendon where I caught a Yellow Top taxi in under 2 mintutes to take me to DC. Picked up my car the next day. Not sure if that is typical on an early saturday night, but sure is an argument for more taxis. We would usually walk to Clarendon, but wife was in high heels for an event downtown.

    • CabGuy

      Redtop and Yellow are owned and operated by the same comapny

      • Thes

        At peak weekend demand times, the County should authorize a $1 or $2 surcharge to encourage more drivers to shift their hours to work then. As it stands, drivers make just as much shuttling around grandmothers and tourists during the weekdays as they do providing drunk kids rides on the weekend. Same pay lower hassle, no wonder they are scarce at bar time.

        • Rick

          Scarce at bar time? Have you driven down Wilson Blvd on a Saturday night???

    • Jonathan

      This is typical of my experiences as well – very frustrating.

  • Kiffee

    Meh – I don’t care. Call me crazy, but I’ll happily pay an extra couple of bucks for an Arlington Red Top to come get me versus having to deal with DC cab cretins.

  • metro rider

    When I balanced out the costs of moving further out and paying less in rent (but adding the cost of my car payments, insurance, gas, and time) vs moving closer to work for slightly higher rent (selling my car and relying on mass transit) I feel like I got screwed. 🙁 I know I did the math and everything seemed to work out on my list of pros and cons (one big pro being that I grew up here and I knew it was expensive, but I truly do love the area, and my family/friends), but I factored in almost 2 years ago when I signed my Arlington lease a running metro system I was somewhat accustomed to (which gets worse every year with construction and all it’s other flaws, as well as more expensive) and at least I knew when I was really stuck or in a rush we have quick and reliable (and affordable) cabs… now it seems like I really need to go back to this stupid pros and cons list all over again because even though I knew I was giving up some to get some in either situation, I really did bank on a system that claimed to be building itself around walkability and transit outside of cars. I know there are non-motored alternatives… but for everyday use with bags, computers, dress clothes, and heals, something with a motor makes my transit one less headache to deal with. It’s just frustrating that the alternative when I’m angry at metro construction is to take a cab when I’m kicked out of station and now I even have to consider that each time I might’ve done it before. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot to everyone, and some people do have “expense accounts” they can bill to… but not all of us do. I work two jobs. I don’t complain about what I don’t have that I maybe wish I did… but I would like to continue to be in my hometown without feeling like I waste the little money I make.

    • Take a breath

      Try using periods. And the occasional paragraph. What you wrote is impossible to wade through.

  • Rick

    How bout we just deregulate the industry?

    • drax

      That’ll be $80 or your can’t have your suitcase back.

  • Dubbs

    The cabbies deserve the extra money, but in the form of a tip. The reality it these jokers have the new swipe machine in their cab. The cabbies don’t want it but the advertising makes red top more

    This increase WILL NOT end up in cabbies pockets. They say it will, but that’s BS.

    Tpical Arlington BS.


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