DALLAS — At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, some taxi and limousine companies are straining to balance fuel costs with affordable services. With gas dancing around $3.50 a gallon, airport transportation is getting more expensive, taxi drivers are quitting their jobs, limousine companies are fielding complaints, and both are bracing for a smaller customer base.
Cab drivers, who are almost always independent contractors who own their own cars and pay for their own fuel, have a little help from a Dallas fuel surcharge regulation, which the airport allows drivers to follow. The regulation drivers follow lets them charge an extra fee to the final cost of each trip. The regulation started when gas was about $2 a gallon, allowing cab drivers to add 50 cents to the total cost of each trip. With each 50 cent rise in the cost of gas, drivers are allowed to charge another 50 cents to their fuel surcharge. Fort Worth passed an almost identical surcharge regulation in January 2006.
With gas at about $3.50 a gallon, the charge is $1.50, said Gary Titlow, Dallas transportation regulation manager. Dallas transportation officials meet quarterly to consider the cost of gas based on the federal Energy Information Administration numbers, and decide whether to bump the surcharge up another 50 cents. On June 20, officials will consider whether to raise the charge to $2.
Limousine companies, however, aren’t covered under the fuel surcharge regulation. Continental Limousine owner Bruno Teixeira said his company serves the tourism industry in Fort Worth, transporting clients to and from the airport and is the exclusive transportation for seven of Fort Worth’s largest hotels, including the Renaissance Worthington Hotel, Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Hilton Fort Worth, and Radisson Plaza Hotel Fort Worth.
“What’s happening is we’re having to pass all this cost to our clients, which is really causing great hardship for the general public,” Teixeira said. “We are absorbing the cost but we’re having to add onto our pricing, just like everyone else. Our rates are up 10, 12, 15%.”
Teixeira worries that limousine customers will stop flying and start doing conference calls instead of traveling for meetings, he said. “We’ve been in business for 22 years and we’ve never seen prices like this,” he said. “The future is uncertain for all of us, we’re uncertain. We haven’t noticed a decrease in our customer base but we have noticed a lot of complaints, which is the preamble to a customer decrease. People are stressed out, they’re frustrated, but they understand we have no choice.”
Source: Ft. Worth Business Press