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San Francisco, which already has one of the very worst taxi systems in the country, is now seriously considering becoming the most expensive with a massive hike in taxi fares.

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency is hearing plans that could raise the fares of some rides by more than 70%. And if you’re picked up from home during rush hour, your fare could nearly double.

Some of the fare increases include a $5 surcharge on picking up passengers at home during rush hours and a full $1 dollar per mile increase in the meter charge, making San Francisco’s taxi fares the highest of any big city in the nation.

Do you think these fare increases are fair? Let us know – take the Reset Poll right now and weigh in with your opinion.

San Francisco Taxi Fare Increase Debate

San Francisco taxi drivers have been pushing hard for a fare increase – and who can blame them considering that taxi fares have not gone up since 2003, while gas prices have skyrocketed and the “gate” drivers pay to rent their cabs have risen sharply.
A spokesman for the drivers pointed out in the SF Examiner that inflation has been 19% since the last fare increase in 2003. And back then gas prices were just about $2 per gallon (drivers are responsible for paying all of their own gas).

At Reset, we agree that drivers need to make a living wage. But raising fares by more than 70% seems a little stiff, particularly when weighed against the inflation factor of 19%. And particularly considering that the MTA does not seem to have seriously considered other options.

Time for Gov 2.0 to Reinvent the Wheel

Reset is dedicated to exploring new solutions – rather than just fighting the same old San Francisco political battles. Perhaps no battle can be described as “same old” more accurately than what seems like the non-stop taxi fare battle.

Of course drivers should be paid fairly. That is in everyone’s interest. First – we own it to workers in this highly regulated industry to make sure they are paid a living wage with health benefits. And also don’t forget – you get what you pay for. If we want safe, qualified drivers who know the city – we should be willing to pay for that.

But why is the only solution presented to make San Franciscans pay dramatically more?

Can’t the big brains down at the MTA start thinking about how to make sure drivers get what they deserve – without gouging customers? There are other solutions that along with a more modest fee increase could give the drivers what they need without such massive fare hikes.

Gas is up – but a switch to hybrids paid for by the companies that just raised their “gate” charge would lower the burden on drivers. Shouldn’t the companies themselves pay for this – not just the drivers and in turn not us?

We need to pay drivers more – but working to help drivers get more business during a shift would accomplish the same, or even perhaps more, than a fare increase. A city-wide dispatch system that uses the technology that many San Franciscans now have on their cell phones to intelligently match drivers with passengers would mean more effective use of the taxi fleet and more money in the pockets of drivers. To be fair, the MTA is experimenting with this. But we need more than their baby steps. We need the agency to finally take the full leap into the future.

If we want to make sure the regulated fleet drivers are fully compensated – then we need to do more to take the many unregulated cabs off the street.

These are just a few ideas to make our taxi fleet more efficient and effective and fair – to both drivers and passengers.

We know this is controversial.

But Gov 2.0 should be about more than safe press releases; it should be about solving the tough problems like this.

What do you think? Log-in and take our poll right now.