N.Y. City doubles cost of ‘wait time’ for taxis

New York City Taxi Fares To Rise
New York's taxi commision voted to raise taxi rates in the city. Starting in December 2006, the cost for time spent idle in traffic will be doubled from 20 cents, to 40 cents. Chris Hondros / Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

The cost of standing still, like everything else in New York City, is going up.

The price of an average cab ride increased by $1 when the city Taxi and Limousine Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to double the amount charged on the meter when a taxi sits idly in traffic.

The unanimous vote puts New York’s wait time in the same range as other major U.S. cities, where the cost of sitting runs about $20 to $30 an hour, according to the commission. The price for a New York hour of “wait time” will double from the current $12 to $24, likely starting in December — just in time for holiday traffic jams.

For tourists accustomed to high gas prices back home, the New York cab ride remained a bargain.

“This is cheap compared to London,” said Paul Garner of Oxford, England, who paid $12 Wednesday for a trip between the Guggenheim Museum and Macy’s. “It would be double in London.”

The vote doubled the cost of wait time from the current 20 cents per minute to 40 cents, which can quickly add up in Manhattan. A recent report found that buses on 14th Street, which runs from the East Village through Union Square into the trendy Meatpacking District, travel at an average speed of 3.9 mph.

Cab drivers have complained that rising gas prices and traffic make the fare increase necessary.

“It’s about time. Traffic has gotten worse, not better,” driver Erhan Tuncel said.

“The gas — that’s what it’s about. They should have a gas surcharge,” said cabbie Wayne Wilson, sitting in his taxi in Times Square.

Taxi fares in New York increased in 2004, with a jump in the initial pickup charge and other increases. But the wait time price hasn’t gone up since 1990, said Vincent Sapone, head of the League of Mutual Taxi Owners Inc.

“At the end of the day, we want to make sure the drivers are adequately compensated,” Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Matthew Daus said after the vote, which followed a public hearing in the agency’s lower Manhattan offices.

The board also voted unanimously to institute a flat fare of $45 on trips from Manhattan to Kennedy Airport, the same flat fare charged for trips in the other direction.

The commission also voted to change a rule requiring cabbies to demonstrate they are legal U.S. residents. Instead, they must now produce a government-issued photo ID, their original Social Security card and a valid cab driver’s license.