SFMTA compromises and lowers cab credit card fee

Taxi drivers will only have a 3.5 percent fee imposed on credit card transactions instead of a 5 percent fee.

In a compromise that thrilled no one, cabdrivers will absorb a 3.5 percent fee for accepting credit card payments for fares.

Drivers and taxi companies have been clashing about credit card fees for the past year, since The City made it mandatory for taxis to accept plastic.

Currently, drivers eat 5 percent of their credit card payments in processing fees, a rate they say is too high. Cab companies say the fee is the only way they can pay for equipment, maintenance and processing costs.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors approved a new cap of 3.5 percent, in a proposal billed as balancing the needs of both the companies and the drivers.

Several speakers at the meeting protested the measure, with drivers arguing that they should pay no fees and company spokespersons saying their operations would lose money with the reduction of the 5 percent mark.

In the end, the board passed the measure unanimously.

“I think this is a good compromise,” said board Chairman Tom Nolan. “You can tell it’s reasonable because nobody likes it that much.”

Not everyone hated the idea. Corey Lamb, a taxi driver, said he did not mind paying “5 cents on the dollar” if it made his customers happy.

Along with approving the 3.5 percent rate, the board signed off on other taxi-related measures, including a mandate for electronic collection of ride and fare data and the installation of backseat credit card processing equipment.

An initiative to allow drivers to use their own credit card equipment — such as Square on their smartphones — also was approved, but customers will get to choose how their payments are processed.


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