Catching a cab now costs more

June 9, 2009 (CHICAGO) A surcharge went into effect at midnight.

The 50-cent fuel charge went into effect overnight. It is meant to help cab drivers with the rising cost in gas. But some passengers say they have already found a way out of it. They say they are just going to tip less.

"Because usually I do tip very well in cabs, [if] they are trying to pinch me I feel like now, I'm going to tip them less," said Jason Goldsmith, cab rider.

If you think you're feeling the pinch at the pump, talk to some drivers. Many city taxi drivers say the jump in gas prices along with the struggling economy has hurt them. Now they are getting a little help thanks to the 50-cent surcharge now in effect.

"Living is very expensive in Chicago right now. In fact, it is so high and very hard to survive in this kind of economy. I don't think 50 cents would help much," said Imran Khan, taxi driver.

Passengers may not like it, but the reason behind the surcharge is that when gas prices remain above $2.70 a gallon for seven consecutive days, the 50-cent fuel surcharge kicks in for cab fares in Chicago. AAA reports the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in Chicago Tuesday morning is $2.94. Across Illinois, the average is $2.87, while the national average stands at $2.62.

But some Chicago cab drivers say they are not too happy with an increase of only 50 cents.

"Lots of time to get the parking tickets. We go home and then we get the tickets in the mail. So they are too costly. Living is very expensive in Chicago right now," said Adam, a cab driver.

Consumer experts with the city say to look for orange signs in the cabs announcing this fuel surcharge. If that sign is not there, you don't have to pay.

The city's consumer division says the sir charge will end after seven consecutive days of gas being below $2.70 a gallon.

    The following rates are currently in effect when entering a Chicago taxicab:
  • The flag pull or initial charge to enter a cab is $2.25 for the first 1/9 mile.
  • The additional fraction of a mile charge is $.20 for each additional 1/9 mile.
  • Every 36 seconds of time elapsed is $.20; the flat fee for the first additional passenger is $1.00; the flat fee for each additional passenger, after the first additional passenger is $.50.

Drivers filling up in the city pay more because of federal, state, and city taxes.

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