The Taxi and Limousine Commission voted Tuesday to increase taxi fares, the first increase for the city’s cab drivers in a decade.
Base fares for yellow and green cabs will increase from $2.50 to $3, with flat fares increasing from 50 to 70 cents. Peak hour and overnight surcharges are $2.50 and $1, respectively. Kennedy Airport flat fares will increase from $52 to $70, while LaGuardia rides add a $5 surcharge.
App-based ridesharing services for companies like Uber and Lyft, meanwhile, are getting a 7% per-minute pay increase, while per-mile compensation is up 24%.
“Raising cab fares and the minimum wage for frequent travelers is what’s right for our city,” TLC Commissioner David Do said in a statement. “This is the first taxi fare increase in ten years and these increases will help offset increased operating costs and the cost of living for TLC licensed drivers. We are confident that today’s unanimous vote by the commission will keep our taxi and Relief Society fleets sustainable and operational for New Yorkers.”
The fare increase is expected to go into effect by the end of the year, a TLC spokesman said. The Commission expects taxi fares to increase by around 23% on average, while driver and medallion revenues will each increase by around a third.
Taxi rides and the number of drivers on the road had been steadily declining before the pandemic, and like the number of subways and buses, their number has not fully recovered over the past two years like the number of private cars. Individual taxis are running fewer hours per month and fewer hours per day, although demand appears to remain high. And inflation doesn’t stop at the industry either: Vehicles, maintenance, petrol and other expenses have risen sharply in the past year.
“I’ve been driving for 17 years. This is my only second raise in years,” Yellow Taxi driver Richard Chow said in a statement. “I believe the increase will be manageable for the public but for drivers it will help us manage our lives and our health. We have to pay for our food and gas, and also for our children’s future and our own retirement. I am very proud of our union for coming together and making sure all drivers are protected, yellow cab drivers and Uber drivers, because we are one driver and one union.”
The Taxi Workers Alliance union welcomed the pay rise but says it is still seeking further pay rises so cab drivers can take home an effective $25 an hour. Unlike Uber and Lyft drivers, yellow cab drivers don’t have minimum wage.
“After a year of all drivers having to choose between food and gas, and a decade of stagnation not only for drivers, but especially yellow cab drivers, we are relieved that the increase will be voted on,” said NYTWA executive director Bhairavi Desai . “We fought hard for this and rider unity has worked for all riders across the industry. There is still work to do to bring driver earnings to $25 an hour after expenses.”
The deal was also hailed by the Independent Drivers Guild, a union partially funded by Uber that represents thousands of ridesharing companies.
“Gasoline prices and spending have skyrocketed over the past two years and rideshare drivers are struggling to make ends meet,” said IDG President Brendan Sexton. “This minimum wage increase is critical and an important step in protecting the 80,000 ridesharing opportunities that keep our city moving. We would like to thank the staff of the Taxi and Limousine Commission, Commissioner Do and the Adams administration for listening to drivers and taking action.”
Renting a car in New York has changed drastically since taxi drivers last increased in 2012, as Uber and Lyft flooded the market and gave operators of the city’s iconic yellow cabs a hard time.
The problem was metastasized by the city and lenders who intentionally inflated the prices of medallions in the years before Uber hit the market, causing many cab drivers to lose their life savings on what was now a comparatively worthless asset when it crashed, and guilt piled up in mountains. Many taxi drivers have committed suicide amid the riots.
After rejecting a settlement fund proposed by the city, scores of taxi drivers went on hunger strike outside City Hall demanding a better deal to pay off their debts, eventually winning a better deal. In September, the TLC approved a deal with the largest medallion loan holder to pay off over $200 million in Cabbie debt.