MTA bailout plan has bigger taxi surcharge

April 21, 2009 9:18:44 PM PDT
The taxi cab industry has gotten a shocker from Albany. Instead of a 50-cent surcharge talked about for weeks, the Senate would double that tax to one dollar a ride.

"I'm so angry. I don't know if I can even talk anymore," cab driver Alan Platt said.

Platt grew up in Brooklyn. He's driven a cab for 39 years and was stunned by the news.

That dollar surcharge would go not just to help the MTA, but half of the money would go to highways and roads.

"They want to add a dollar on to a fare and they say 'Oh, don't worry. It's gonna just be added on, taken away.' It's gonna affect our livelihood grossly," Platt said.

The biggest part of the senate plan depends on a payroll tax with suburban companies getting a discount.

The plan calls for an eight percent fare hike instead of the doomsday 23 percent.

Car registrations would go up by 25 dollars.

And there's that taxi surcharge.

"It could be up to $4 before you go one block. That's absurd," said David Pollack of the Taxi Safety Committee.

The taxi industry is up in arms, pointing out the initial fare is already $2.50 with a 50 cent night charge. Add on the proposed tax, and it comes to four dollars.

Customers seem resigned to pay more.

"If you live in New York, as it goes on it gets more expensive and they find some way to tack on a tax. So why not, tax the taxi ride," Brandi Russel said.

VOTE: Are you willing to pay the surcharge?

Transit advocates says somebody's gotta help the mta. They claim it's only fair to make cabs pay more.

"It's important all these different parties realize there's a benefit for a strong mass transit system. Taxi drivers benefit from it too," Veronic Vanterpool of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign said.

But when we talked with drivers, we heard of pain and worry about how to make ends meet.

"It's just gonna cut down on the tips. Basically, people just don't want to pay extra. They're struggling as it is," Uppkar Thind said.

"It'll mean less tips, fewer jobs. Right now, I'm suffering trying to make a living as it is," Francis Loughlin added.


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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