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New Cab Fees Coming to Council

A taxi driver stretches his legs in Downtown Austin.
A taxi driver stretches his legs in Downtown Austin.

Here’s another reason not to over-imbibe: If you get sick in a taxi on the way back from Sixth Street, you could get hit with a $100 dollar fine.

That measure is one of two proposals coming to the Austin City Council tomorrow. Item 42 creates the clean-up fee. If passed, it directs City Manager Marc Ott to draft “recommendations for implementation and enforcement strategies for a $100 taxicab clean-up fee” – i.e., how and when the fee will be collected. It will also implement the new rule quickly, by Feb. 9.

There’s a second cab-related measure up too: Item 43, which would implement a “peak hour surcharge” on fares. Between the hours of 9p.m. and 4:30p.m., fares would be charged a flat $2.50 surcharge.

The new fees are an outgrowth of complaints council regularly hears every time a taxi-related measure comes up: that it's difficulty to make a living as a cab driver.An independent study the city commissioned last year called for 100 additional taxi permits. But a recent council proposal to add 75 new cabs drew dozens of cab drivers in opposition, claiming the increased competition for fares would impact their livelihood.

The number of new permits proposed was reduced to 45, with final approval postponed to Feb. 9 – the same day Item 42 would go into effect. So no matter what happens at council this week, the meter’s still running on Austin’s cab controversy.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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