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Taxi board agrees on $1 fuel surcharge

By KEVIN GRAHAM
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 14, 2003

TAMPA -- A month after the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission voted to raise the base price of a taxi ride by 50 cents, commissioners have agreed to allow cab drivers to charge a $1 fuel surcharge for fares over $10.

Commissioners gave final approval to the base fare increase from $1.25 to $1.75 on Wednesday, and also voted to give drivers the optional $1 surcharge because of rising gas prices.

"It appeared to me that we are in a state right now that the individual contractors, the drivers, were in need of some assistance," Greg Cox, the commission's executive director, said about the $1 surcharge.

Cox said Department of Energy data shows gas prices usually peak sometime around May and drop off after June.

"This year, I've noted the rates have jumped up starting in January," Cox said. "We're already at a peak that has previously been associated with June. If (gas prices) are still climbing, who knows where they will be in June and what effect that will have."

The surcharge is optional and only on fares over $10, Cox said, so those who rely on cabs as their primary transportation for regular short trips won't feel the pinch.

"The commission doesn't want to put any more financial strain on those moms and dads out there who use taxi cabs to go to the grocery store or the doctor's," Cox said.

Some of the county's cab drivers said they will opt not to charge the extra $1 on fares over $10 to avoid upsetting customers.

"If you ask them for the extra dollar, you jeopardize your tip," said Jean Bourdeau, who drives for Yellow Cab.

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