Ten taxicab companies in Baltimore City and Baltimore County filed an application with the Maryland Public Service Commission yesterday to allow them to raise taxi rates by 21 percent.
If granted, passengers in Baltimore would pay $1.30 more for a 5-mile ride and passengers in Baltimore County would pay $1.25 more, said Mark L. Joseph, president of the Maryland Cab Association, which represents the majority of taxi companies in the state.
The increase would be the first in seven years.
Joseph, who also is president and chief executive of Yellow Transportation Inc. -- which owns three of the cab companies -- said the rate increase is needed to attract and retain qualified drivers.
The companies agreed that the entire first year's rate increase would go to about 3,000 drivers who operate in the city and county. The last increase was for about 17 percent in 1991, Joseph said.
Taxi drivers pay companies to rent their taxis, and keep all the money they earn from fares. There are 1,151 cabs in the city and 274 in the county, Joseph said.
"There's a competitive market, in terms of finding drivers, and there's an increasing demand for service," Joseph said. "We need more drivers and this increase will help us" get them.
"I'm sure the public recognizes that even with the increase, Baltimore will still have very fair and reasonable cab fares."
Baltimore's taxi rates rank last among the 30 largest cities in the United States. The increase, if approved, would move them up to No. 27, ahead of Atlanta, Dallas and Memphis, the Maryland Cab Association says.
The Public Service Commission -- which regulates transportation companies and utilities -- can hold public hearings on the application, can hold evidentiary hearings where parties can cross-examine one another, or the agency can approve the application based on the information submitted by the cab association, said PSC spokeswoman Chrys Wilson.
"Normally, with rate increases, there will be some type of hearing," Wilson said. "I would be surprised if we didn't have a public hearing on this."
A schedule for action has not been set, she said.
City companies asking for the rate increase are Checker Cab Association Inc., Sun Taxicab Association, Royal Cab Association Inc., GI Veterans Taxicab Co. Inc., the Association of Independent Taxi Operators, Yellow Cab Association and Yellow Taxi Association.
The companies seeking the rate increase in the county are Jimmy's Cab Co., Monarch Livery Services and Valley Cab Association.
Pub Date: 5/28/98