WASHINGTON, D. C. – Limousine companies are adding fuel
surcharges, and some cities are allowing taxi drivers to
collect more from passengers in order to cope with the high
price of gasoline.
Limousine company owner Richard Kane said fuel costs have
soared 40% in the past year, forcing him to raise his fuel
surcharge in May to 8%, up from 5% charged earlier this
year. "Fuel is an issue, people know it and are
understanding," said Kane, owner of International Limousine
Service in Washington, D.C., with 40 limousines and 70
shuttle buses. "And prom only comes once a year, so the
kids still want their limousines."
Dominick Rizzi, manager of Farrells Limousine Service in
New York, said his company has imposed a 7% fuel
surcharge. "It's impossible. We can't survive without doing
it," Rizzi said.
David Johnson, president of Ace Executive Limousine in Los
Angeles, said higher gas prices have raised his company's
costs by at least 15% in the past year, "definitely cutting
into profits." He is charging new customers more, but has
held off on higher prices for established customers.
Taxi drivers are having a harder time with rising gasoline
prices since they can't simply raise rates to pass on their
additional costs to passengers. Taxi fares are generally
set by municipal governments, so drivers can't charge more
as their costs go up.
A few months ago, Empire Cab driver Akram Mohammed, who
works in Washington, was paying $15 for a tank of gas. Now
he's paying as much as $35. "We have to work everyday. We
cannot stop just because gas prices go up, so it gets paid
out of pocket," he said.
To help cab drivers, officials in Washington approved the
addition of an emergency fuel surcharge of $1 per trip.
Rates also have gone up recently in Chicago, Baltimore and
Milwaukee. Philadelphia regulators are scheduled to vote on
a fare hike on June 27.
Simon Garber, who owns cab companies in New York, Chicago
and Moscow, said income for his drivers has dropped 15% in
the past year.
In New York, a city that adjusts taxi rates on a long-term
basis, rates went up in May 2004, before the latest surge
in gas prices.