Government and Travel & Tourism

Average cab fares won’t go up

But city water and sewer rates will go down.

December 22, 2012
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Revelers on New Year’s Eve can grab a taxi after the clock strikes 2013 next week and safely ride home at 2012 prices.

Also, the first showers revelers take in the New Year will cost a bit less.

Grand Rapids city commissioners agreed with City Clerk Lauri Parks last week and decided not to raise taxicab rates for the coming year, even though a key economic variable used to determine meter-rate increases indicated the city might have hiked the fares. Doing so would have raised the maximum rate taxicab companies licensed by the city could charge passengers.

The variable is the U.S. Department of Labor’s Intracity Public Transportation CPI, which takes into consideration such things as the prices of gas, oil and maintenance and the cost of vehicles. The CPI finding reported that taxi-related inflation rose by almost 3.2 percent from November 2011 to last October.

“If the processed increase were put into place, it would raise the meter rate for an average cab ride of five miles from $13.87 to $14.31,” said Parks. “Currently, the taxicab companies in the city of Grand Rapids charge between $10.50 and $13.”

Because those fares haven’t hit the rate ceiling, Parks said an increase wasn’t warranted, and city commissioners agreed.

Parks also provided the commission with a comparison of 2013 cab rates for seven cities in Michigan, and for one result — the average five-mile fare — Grand Rapids was lower than Ann Arbor and Livonia, slightly higher than Flint, Detroit and Dearborn, and $3.50 higher than the Kalamazoo rate.

In Kalamazoo, which doesn’t license cabs, the average charge was $10.35 for a five-mile trip. Here the fare was $13.87. Ann Arbor had the highest charge at $15.50, while Detroit’s was $13.

Parks also reminded commissioners that passengers now can hail cabs in the city, as the commission lifted the ban against doing so several years ago. She said many residents aren’t aware of that change.

New Year’s Day showers are going to cost less because commissioners lowered city water rates for 2013. City sewer rates will also drop.

Although the new rates will differ in the city’s 11 customer communities, which includes Grand Rapids, the overall reduction to water charges will be 4.4 percent, or a total revenue dip of $1.8 million for the year. Sewer rates will fall by roughly 2.5 percent, or $1.2 million, in 2013.

Rates can be cut because the city’s system has lowered expenditures and created efficiencies. “This (reduction) has been earned by the (city) water system,” said Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong.

The reduction marks the second time in the last three years the city has reduced customer charges for water and sewer services.

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