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.