- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 5, 2004

The cost of catching a cab in the District went up yesterday, the first such fare increase since 2001.

The fare increases, approved by the D.C. Taxicab Commission last month, range from an increase of 50 cents, $5 to $5.50, for a trip across a single zone to an increase of $1.60 one-way for a trip across eight zones, from $15.60 to $17.20.

District residents, also facing proposed fare increases for Metro trains and buses, said yesterday that the higher transportation costs would create more hardships for the city’s poor.

“I live on a low-income budget,” said 82-year-old Elaine Jones, as she carried grocery bags from the Giant Food Store in Northwest.

“I am so dependent upon cabs, I have had to cut down on food and medicine. So, instead of taking a cab now, I have to do a lot more walking,” she said, as she prepared to carry her purchases to her home seven blocks away.

Cab drivers said the fare increases are needed to cover their higher gas costs.

“I think it’s great,” said Wezeraew Andargre, 36, who drives an independent cab. “I spend $40 a day in gas a day.”

Another driver, Sunny Saeed, said: “Gas prices are high, so they should raise the rates to go along with it. If you look at the way prices have risen in the District the last few years, this raise is really just keeping up with the times.”

Many residents said they couldn’t afford cabs before the fare increase.

“I used to take the cab,” said James Hamilton, 46. “Now I take the bus to work everyday … I just can’t afford the rates.”

Paulette Williams, who was walking from the grocery store, said she doesn’t like taking cabs because she’s charged for her bags of groceries.

“If you have bags, anything over two bags they will charge you individually for,” she said.

But Gregory Oloyede, a cab driver for Five Star Cab Association, said the fares need to go even higher.

“The fare raise is necessary because gas prices have continued to climb, and it is costing drivers more money,” he said. “I want the prices to keep rising, but this is a good start.”

“All this is going to do is cause a lot of people to stop using the cabs in the District,” said Marry Smith, 39.

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