The cost of catching a cab at Baltimore-Washington International Airport will rise by about 16 percent under emergency legislation unanimously approved last night by the Anne Arundel County Council.
The council unanimously passed the first taxi fare increase in nine years at the airport and across the county.
"I'd say it's rather overdue," said Anne M. Hatcher, the county's licensing director.
The initial cost of hailing a taxi will rise by 20 cents to $1.80 ($2.30 at BWI), and the per-mile charge will also rise by 20 cents, to $1.40, making Anne Arundel's taxis among the most expensive in the region.
Under the new rates, a 15-mile trip from the airport will cost $23.10. The same trip now costs $19.90.
The change will become law with County Executive Janet S. Owens' signature, but it is expected to take a week for the county to recalibrate every taxi meter.
The county's seven taxi companies -- including BWI Airport Taxi, the only taxi service licensed to pick up passengers at the airport -- have spent the past year working with the county on a fare increase.
Their push gained urgency several months ago when gas prices began to climb. The combination of higher gas prices and stagnant taxi rates generated strong support for an increase among County Council members for emergency legislation.
But taxi owners did not get everything they wanted; the county said their initial 20 percent request was too high.
"Anything is better than what was before," said Carl G. "Dutch" Holland, a former county councilman who represents the county's taxi owners. "It's a step in the right direction."
Some taxi owners said profits were drying up, and drivers were fleeing. At some companies, drivers must pay for their own gas; other companies split the cost.
"It's to the point where you just can't survive," said Emmett Willis, owner of Associated Cab in Glen Burnie. He said the cost of buying cabs has risen 45 percent since rates were last adjusted in 1991.
The new rates are in some cases higher than those in nearby counties. The $1.80 initial charge is second only to Howard County's $1.90. The $1.40 per mile charge is a dime lower than the highest rate, in Montgomery County.
The rates do not apply to cabs regulated by the City of Annapolis.