Taxi drivers pushed for a meter increase during public comment that would've included a raise in the
flag drop at Tuesday's MTA Board meeting.
The MTA Board of Directors approved a meter increase Tuesday at its regular May 17th meeting, and the drivers raise will go into effect after June 21st.
The vote passed unanimously with six members present. The Board approved a 10 cent mileage increase from 45 cents to 55 cents for every one-fifth of a mile, and a 10 cent increase from 45 cents per minute to 55 cents per minute wait time. There was no increase in the flag drop.
Director Malcolm Heinicke had originally motioned to hold off on any vote until the Board could hear further recommendations from the taxi industry at its June 21st meeting. Other items are expected to be heard at that time such as peak time taxi service, credit card fees, and an increase in the flag drop.
MTA Board Director Malcolm Heinicke listens to taxi
drivers supportinga meter rate increase during public
comment at Tuesday's MTABoard meeting May 17, 2011.
Heinicke cited a lack of "public support" as a main reason to hold off. He said that a meter rates would have to be coupled with a "service increase", and that a raise for cab drivers, "could not go forward without adding more cabs." He mentioned that a peak time pilot plan should be discussed in the coming weeks before any further actions could go forward, because the public can't get cabs during busy hours.
That being said, a number of visibly upset taxi drivers wanting a vote that day left the meeting in protest, one shouting out a call for a strike.
However, after the meeting resettled, Heinicke's motion failed, getting only three votes but needing four. The aye votes were Malcolm Heinicke, Cheryl Brinkman, and Leona Bridges. The no votes were Bruce Oka and Jerry Lee.
MTA Board Vice Chairman Jerry Lee and Director
After that, Vice President of the Board Jerry Lee, motioned for a second vote that passed unanimously, but only authorizing the 10 cent per one-fifth mileage increase and the 10 cent increase per minute wait time, with no increase in the flag drop.
The Board said Sunshine laws prevented it from authorizing an increase in the flag drop that day, adding that an immediate increase in the flag drop was not necessary, since any increases would not go into effect until after its June 21st meeting anyway.
Additionally, Director Bruce Oka said that although he supports a meter increase, it should not be approved without a gate increase, and that the two items should be considered together.
Finally, the item to remove the July 1st deadline for implementing electronic waybills was approved unanimously. Implementation of electronic waybills was delayed for at least 120 more days.
John Lazaar, President of Luxor Cab.
Carl Macmurdo, President of the Medallion Holders Association.
Before the meeting, taxi drivers protested electronic waybills outside of City Hall, circling cabs and honking horns around the building.
Medallion holder Brad Newsham holds a sign outside City Hall before Tuesday's May 17th
MTA Board meeting to protest electronic waybills and fees that the City is imposing
on taxi drivers.
Taxi driver Harold Miller.
Photos by John Han.