Starting Monday, September 5, the cost of catching a ride in a San Francisco taxi will increase – despite the fact that San Francisco is already one of the priciest cab cities in the country. Based on Monday’s new rates, San Francisco will fall behind just San Jose and Honolulu as the most expensive city in which to ride a cab, according to a study conducted by the SFMTA.

Despite the fact that passengers will now be faced with a $3.55 starting rate – up from $3.10 – there is somewhat of a silver lining.

Also starting Monday, 87 new cabs will hit the street – a near six percent increase to the overall taxi fleet in San Francisco of around 1,500.

Enough Cabs to Meet Demand?

While increasing the amount of taxis on San Francisco streets may be considered a good start, it also probably will not be enough. According to the SF Examiner, a manager at the Desoto cab company suggested that the City may need to add as many as 500 new cabs just to meet public demand.

And Tariq Mehmood, a San Francisco taxi driver involved in several protests over the last few months has said that an influx of 87 new cabs could cut into drivers’ business by nearly ten percent. Now the City faces the prospect of hurting drivers – again – and still falling short of providing enough cabs to reasonably meet demand.

Use Data to Fix the Cab Problem

Once again the players on both sides of this debate seem to be missing a key point – supply is not fixed, it is fluid depending on how easy it is to get a cab, how pleasant the experience is and the overall cost of the cab ride itself.

With the addition of 87 cabs, it is now only a little easier to find a cab, significantly more expensive and no more pleasant an experience as many cab rides are still marked by downright hostile exchanges over how to pay as drivers refuse to take credit cards.

Once again – Reset readers would like to see a more sophisticated solution beyond a few more cabs and a few more dollars in each fare. How about making it so easy to get a cab so that the market grows? That way the drivers make more, more people rely on transit and the occasional car/cab share and reliable cab services actually mean fewer cars on the road – all meaning Muni gets faster.

There are already data driven technologies out there employed in cities throughout the world – staring with a city-wide universal dispatch system that means one call to find a cab, not multiple busy signals. This Gov 2.0 step feels like a leap but while they are at it, what about a single San Francisco taxi app that would allow you to hail the closest taxi on your phone?

All this matters for a number of reasons. First – our number one industry is still tourism, and the mess that has become the San Francisco taxi service hardly helps us as we market our city. And most importantly, every study shows that car/cab sharing services take private cars off the road and promote transit. Since we won’t Reset San Francisco without resetting the Municipal Railway, we need to pay attention to all the ways the City is making that harder – including this endless taxi tussle.