Council Makes Cab Fuel Charge Official

OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council made the taxi fuel surcharge official this week, when they voted unanimously to approve the $1, per trip, fuel surcharge aimed at providing local taxi drivers with some relief.

The topic was initially broached at a recent Police Commission meeting, with over 25 taxicab drivers attending. After discussing several options, the Police Commission agreed the best option would be a $1 fuel surcharge, to be added per trip, until November when the current fare prices could be reconsidered.

Only recently are gas prices showing signs of leveling out, but after months of skyrocketing prices and uncertainty regarding the future of pains at the pump, taxi drivers remained concerned about the rising cost of operating their businesses.

Large cities, such as Atlanta and Philadelphia, currently allow a 40-cent and 50-cent fuel charge, respectively.

In 2007, a fuel surcharge was approved in Annapolis, to go into affect when gas prices exceeded $3.50. The fuel surcharge now stands at 50 cents for trips within Annapolis and $1 within Anne Arundel County.

Montgomery County and Frederick County are currently allowing temporary fuel surcharges as well. Montgomery County recently approved a $1.50 temporary surcharge through Aug. 27, while Frederick County approved an optional, 90-day temporary surcharge.

The three-month, temporary fuel surcharge will aim to work against rising gas prices, giving local taxi drivers some relief until November, when the Police Commission will revisit the current price of fares.

The fares have not been changed since 2006, when the town passed an ordinance setting taxicab fares at $2 per mile, with an initial fee of $3.

“Fuel has gone up more than a dollar a gallon since then,” said Council member Lloyd Martin this week. “We’re doing a three-month temporary surcharge so we can get them through the season, then maybe go back and reset the fare.”

Council member Jay Hancock clarified for the council and those attending the meeting that the $1 surcharge was to be per trip, rather than per fare or person.

A sticker must be displayed on the taxicab in order to charge the additional fee. A certified letter from the town will also be provided to each driver, to be available to customers questioning the surcharge.

The council voted unanimously to approve the surcharge, making the $1 fuel surcharge within the town official.