All taxi rides from San Francisco International Airport would cost at least $17 under a new proposal to impose a minimum fare, but cab drivers say it should be even more.
The airport commission will vote today on whether to drop an 8-year-old incentive program for taxi drivers who return in less than 30 minutes and instead impose a flat $4 fee and minimum fare for all drivers.
The current system, which waives driver fees for a speedy return and offers a special line for short trips, is viewed as unsafe, disorganized and a monetary loss by airport officials.
Drivers would be moved into one line under the new proposal and would pay the airport $4 every time they leave — money that pays for a $3 million curbside management contract. An airport fee of $3, instead of the current $2, would be incorporated into the $17 minimum fare. The current fares taxi drivers pay only account for about 77 percent of the overall curbside management cost, according to the airport.
But taxi drivers, who have worked with SFO in the past year to improve the quality of the system, say $17 is $1 lower than the lowest compromise they had offered.
“We were pushing for a $20 minimum because we feel if there’s a single line, drivers are going to be waiting longer and we have to make it financially feasible,’’ said Barry Korengold, president of the San Francisco Cab Association, which represents about 80 drivers.
However, Korengold said that during this past year, while working with SFO on different solutions, he has “seen worse proposals,’’ and that the association “would rather avoid a strike.’’
The decision to change the fare structure comes more than a year after BART increased its fee to ride its trains to and from SFO by $2.75, from $1 to $4, in an effort to generate more money. A ride to The City from SFO now costs $8.10, and according to BART the increase has not changed ridership.
Bus shuttles or share vans still usually cost about $17 for door-to-door service, but take longer than taxis because passengers have to wait until the van is full and then for others to be dropped off.
Planes, trains and automobiles
Fares for trips from San Francisco International Airport vary from $8.10 for BART to $75 for a private van.
Minimum in a cab: $17
Fee for passenger: $3 (incorporated in $17 minimum)
Fee for driver to leave SFO: $4
SuperShuttle and other shared vans
Shared ride: $17
Private van: $75
To The City: $8.10*
*All BART rides to and from SFO assume a $4 fee
Sources: SFO, BART, SuperShuttle