Fares to SFO may take off

In addition to airlines spiking fares or charging for pillows, extra luggage or drinks, trips to the local airport are becoming a lot costlier.

Peninsula Yellow Cab, which serves San Francisco International Airport and northern San Mateo County with its fleet of 42 taxis, will raise its rates 17 percent in response to an outcry from its drivers over soaring fuel costs. The starting flag drop fee will jump from $2.75 to $3.50 — 40 cents higher than San Francisco — and the additional per-mile fare will rise from $2.60 to $3. That means the rate for a 20-mile trip would leap from $57.50 to $67.

The company’s taxicab drivers said Wednesday they are earning less money because they are paying the same high prices at the gas pump that all motorists are facing.

Peninsula cab companies often drop off passengers at the airport, deputy airport director Tryg McCoy said. He called the industry big business at SFO, with more than 94,000 taxis dispatched in June, and a similar number of drop-offs.

Peninsula Yellow Cab said the rate hike would increase a cabdriver’s earnings by $25 per day on average and would not pad the company’s coffers. The company cited statistics from AAA indicating Bay Area gas prices have increased 65 percent since 2005, from $3 per gallon to $4.60, though gas prices have recently seen a slight drop-off in price.

The fare increases come at a time when fliers are already dealing with record-high ticket prices and fees for everything from checked bags to mid-flight snacks.

“It seems like everything about coming [to the airport] is more expensive than it used to be,” Pacifica resident Shawn Castle said, as a taxi dropped him off at SFO on Wednesday.

Bud Hazelkorn, a cabdriver and chair of the United Taxicab Workers group, said he would like to instead see the rates drivers pay to their companies lowered so drivers will not lose business as the result of increased passenger rates.

“The drivers at this point can’t even make a living at the rates they’re at,” Hazelkorn said. “To raise the rates so you get another lousy $10 a day, even $20 a day, is irrelevant. We need 40 or 50 bucks per day, we’re paying another $50 a day in gas.”

Peninsula Yellow Cab is the lone taxicab company serving South San Francisco, San Bruno and Millbrae, which all need to approve the increase before it is implemented, said George Corey, the company’s attorney. South City police are recommending to its City Council to raise the rates.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

By the numbers

Taxicab rates are going up.

$2.75: Current Peninsula Yellow Cab flag drop fee
$3.50: New Peninsula Yellow Cab flag drop fee
$3.10: San Francisco flag drop fee
$2.60: Current Peninsula Yellow Cab per-mile rate
$3: New Peninsula Yellow Cab per-mile rate
$0.45: San Francisco rate per each fifth-mile
42: Peninsula Yellow Cab taxis
3: Taxicab pickup locations at SFO
94,049: SFO taxis dispatched in June (similar number of drop-offs)

Sources: SFO, Peninsula Yellow CabBay Area NewsLocalTransittransportation

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