Atlanta City Council increases taxicab fares to compete with Uber, Lyft

The Atlanta City Council has voted to increase cab fares in Atlanta, in a move to level the playing field as taxi drivers compete with Uber and Lyft.

The ordinance approved Tuesday sets a minimum fare of $10 for each trip.

It will also raise cab fares from $2.50 to $3.50 for the first 1/8 mile. Each additional 1/8 mile will go up from 25 cents to 30 cents.

Waiting time will go up from $21 per hour to $24 per hour.

Flat rates from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to downtown, Midtown and Buckhead will also increase. Airport-downtown trips will be $36 up from $30, airport-Midtown trips will be $38 up from $32 and airport-Buckhead trips will be $48 up from $40.

Some of the taxicab rates hadn’t changed in about 18 years, while the cost of vehicles and the cost of living have “increased tremendously during that time,” Atlanta Checker Cab president Rick Hewatt told city council members at a committee meeting last month.

“We’ve been unable to hire drivers because of the rate we’re charging,” Hewatt said. “Drivers can’t make ends meet.”

Taxi industry lobbyist Kevin Ross called the cab fare increase “way past time.”

“We do think fare increases are long overdue,” he said.

Uber and Lyft have variable rates for rides, depending on the trip, demand and other factors.

The convenience of Uber and Lyft have driven sharp drops in the number of people using taxicabs, driving many cab drivers out of the business.

Hewatt last month told the city council transportation committee that his company and a few other taxi firms “have survived the onslaught of the rideshares.”

The taxicab industry initially wanted to eliminate flat rate zones — but opted to advocate for increased flat rates while keeping the zones in place.

There will still be an initial airport surcharge of $1.50, and the $2 charge for each additional passenger.

The taxi industry last year proposed a broader deregulation of cabs as it struggles to compete with Uber and Lyft, but Ross said the changes to regulations “that taxicabs have to bear that rideshares don’t” are instead being pursued “piece by piece.”