Philly cab rides will be more expensive starting Sept. 1

Some taxi industry workers worry the hike could put the industry at a further disadvantage to Lyft and Uber.

Taxi cab
Flickr via SmittenKittenOrig

Philly cab rides are about to get more expensive.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority board recently approved a petition to increase the metered rate from 23 cents to 25 cents, with the change taking effect Sept. 1. The move was made to increase pay for struggling drivers, but some taxi industry workers worry the hike could put the industry at a further disadvantage to Lyft and Uber. Ride-sharing services, when not surging, typically have lower rates than cabs.

“I’m not sure this is the right approach for helping drivers and owners,” said Alex Friedman, general manager of 215-Get-A-Cab. “I think it may have an adverse effect on the whole industry. I cannot attest to it with certainty because we haven’t tried it yet. Hopefully it will work out for the best.”

This is the second rate change for cabs this summer. This month, the airport zone flat rate was expanded deeper into South Philly and West Philly. And just like the airport zone expansion, this petition was proposed by the drivers.

Ronald Blount, a driver and president of the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania, formally petitioned for the increase from 23 cents to 25 cents in February. The 25 cents will be charged every tenth of a mile, or after every 37 seconds. Blount said he believes the increase will help drivers struggling from the effects of ride-sharing, as well as simpler matters, like portions of fares lost because of complications with construction.

Spring hearings on the subject were contentious, with many workers speaking against the hike.

Friedman said the PPA is partially to blame for the timing of the change. He said the taxi industry wanted a rate increase years ago, before ride-sharing services began dominating the market. The metered rate has been 23 cents since early 2008.

“That’s how PPA operates, how the PPA regulates and so on and so forth,” Friedman said. “They’re looking in the rearview mirror constantly. They are not regulating proactively. They’re regulating reactively, and sometimes a reaction comes two years after everybody’s dead.”

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