Reaction is mixed to cab fare hike

Supervisors’ vote to raise price takes effect Nov. 1

Tourists and residents will have to fork over an additional 25 cents next month for just getting into a San Francisco cab — with fares already among the highest in the nation.

Cindy Halfer, who was waiting for a Muni bus Tuesday, was not happy when she heard the news. Halfer, who uses a cab once in a while when “Muni is not the answer,” said she will now have to think twice the next time she really needs a cab.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a 25-cent hike to the initial fee people are charged upon entering a cab. The fee, commonly referred to as a “flag drop,” is set at $2.85. Starting Nov. 1, the fee will go up to $3.10. The increase makes San Francisco’s flag drop the second highest in the nation, only 10 cents below Las Vegas cabs.

A fare increase would “discourage local residents from using taxis, which represents an important part of our city’s Transit First policy” and “increasingly make taxis accessible only to the wealthy in our city,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said in an Oct. 11 letter to the Board of Supervisors, opposing fare increases.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said, however, that the increase is modest enough to have no adverse impact on the taxi industry. Fares were last increased in 2003. This year’s increase is attributed to inflation and the rise in gas prices.

Some visitors and residents say the increase wouldn’t affect them much.

“Twenty-five cents is not too big of a deal. For me, it’s still the easiest way to get around The City, and it’s not too expensive,” said Susan Tennar of Denver, who regularly travels to San Francisco on business.

Shauna Livingstone, who works in the Financial District, agreed. “Taxis are pretty much the easiest way to get around downtown. So a slight increase is not going to stop me from using it,” she said.

An average cab ride in San Francisco is about $15.90 — only Honolulu, San Diego and Miami fares are higher, according to a report by the Schaller Consulting firm.

Mayoral spokesman Peter Ragone said Newsom “respectfully disagrees” with the board’s vote, but it remains unclear if he plans on vetoing it. “The mayor hasn’t made a decision about exactly what he’ll do with the legislation,” Ragone said.

In his letter to the board, Newsom wrote: “Tens of thousands of local residents rely on taxis for their daily transportation to and from work, to visit family and friends, and to shop and eat in local businesses. Taxi fare hikes impact the day-to-day cost of living for these residents, who already face among the highest cost of living in the U.S.”

jsabatini@examiner.com

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