Taxicab fare rates are increasing in Chelsea for the first time in 18 years.
Last week, the Licensing Commission approved new rates that are $1 more for the first 1/8 mile, at $2.60, and 15 cents more for each additional 1/8 mile, at 60 cents.
The cost for the first mile of a taxi ride will be $6.80 under the new fare rates, as opposed to $4.75 under the old rates.
Licensing Commission Chair Marnie MacAlpine said the new rates are more in line with the current rates in the neighboring communities of Malden and Everett.
Representatives from the city’s three licensed taxi companies attended a public hearing on the increases at the May 11 meeting, noting that they have faced hardships with earning money and retaining drivers due to the lack of a fare increase for nearly two decades, the rise of rideshare services, and the proliferation of gypsy cab drivers in the city.
The representatives from Blue Taxi, Ventura Taxi, and C&M Taxi presented a letter to the Licensing Commission requesting an increase to $3 for the first 1/8 mile.
The letter stated that the cost of living increases due to inflation are having a negative effect on the businesses.
“I think we should raise the rates, the question is what is a fair rate,” said MacAlpine. She said the increase to $3 for the first 1/8 was a little high, since she wanted to make sure fares remained affordable for Chelsea residents.
“It has been since 2005, and clearly everything else in our lives has gone up, it stands to reason that (cab fares) should go up,” said MacAlpine.
Representatives from the taxi companies also requested greater enforcement of gypsy cabs picking up fares and causing congestion at cab spaces, particularly at Market Basket and in Bellingham Square.
Chelsea Police Captain David Betz said the department will take action if it sees a gypsy cab at a taxi stand, but said they will often reappear as soon as they clear an area.
“It’s not fair that companies that do the right thing do not have the spots to pull in and pick up a fare,” said MacAlpine. “None of us want that activity there. There is a reason all of you go through the process with us, so we appreciate that you guys are doing it correctly, and the city will try to do its part to crack down on the gypsy cabs.”
The $24 per hour prorated waiting charge and the 50 cent fuel surcharge will remain the same as they have been since 2005.
In other business, it was noted that Rincon Latino had completed its seven-day liquor license suspension it was handed at the April meeting for overserving a patron.
Betz noted that there had been no further issues at the restaurant over the past month, and that the business had been cooperative in attempting to address issues.