Detroit to raise cab fares as the city looks to overhaul taxi regulations

LND, October 27, 2014

Detroit is looking to raise cab fares and possibly block new Uber and Lyft ride services from charging higher rates as part of the first overhaul of city’s taxi regulations in a generation.

The result could be pricier meter rates, but it would also provide an incentive for cab drivers to follow the rules and not charge exorbitant flat rates for short rides, an illegal practice and common complaint among Detroit cab passengers. Drivers face a misdemeanor ticket if caught charging over the city’s official rate of $1.60 per mile with a $2.50 base fare.

“I had somebody one time quote me a price to go from MGM Grand (Detroit) to Nemo’s, which is not even a mile, and the guy wanted $20,” said Jamie Lawrence. “My buddy and I said ‘That’s ridiculous, we’d rather walk.’ And so he pulled over right at the corner of Michigan and Third and we got out and walked.”

Cab drivers say the current rates, last set in 2001, are too low to make a decent living without charging illegal, off-the-meter flat rates. “Every time we’re hitting that meter, we’re cheating ourselves,” said Detroit cab driver Philip Oswas.

Drivers are also angry over the city’s current policy which allows Uber and Lyft to do business in Detroit without paying any registration fees or requiring their drivers to buy the same pricey commercial-grade auto insurance that traditional taxi drivers do.

Detroit also permits Uber and Lyft drivers to charge fare rates based on fluctuating demand, which Uber calls ‘surge pricing.’ But some consumers and city officials say this practice amounts to unregulated p… MORE

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