BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — The City Council is considering a proposal to raise taxi fares for the first time in nine years.
Owners of the city’s six licensed taxi companies have been invited to meet with councilors at City Hall tonight to discuss the potential increase.
Council President Paul Guanci has proposed raising the minimum fare from $4 to $5.50. He said he submitted the proposal after being approached by Dennis Soper, owner of Nd-a-ryd Transportation and Taxi Services.
“It’s just like any other small business,” Guanci said. “Gas is up; insurance is up. It’s just a matter of trying to keep up with his bills.”
The City Council, which has the authority to set cab fares, last raised the rate in 2004, when it went from $2.50 to $4. That was the first increase since 1992.
Soper said Beverly’s rate should be the same as Salem’s, which is a $5.50 minimum fare. The price of gas, repairs and insurance has increased markedly since the last time Beverly raised fares, he said.
“People don’t understand this stuff. This is a tough industry to be in,” he said. “Everything else is going up; why shouldn’t we?”
Beverly’s current fare structure allows cab companies to charge $4 for the first six-tenths of a mile, then 25 cents for each additional one-fifth of a mile. People 59 and older get a 20 percent discount. Guanci’s proposal would change the $4 to $5.50 for the first six-tenths of a mile.
The proposal went before the City Council’s finance and property committee last week, but Councilor Don Martin said the committee wanted to hear from taxi company owners before voting.
“We all realize the cost of gas has gone up the last four years,” Martin said. “I’m sure they want to be competitive. We just want to get the complete story before we vote on it.”
Tonight’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 at City Hall.
Soper said cab companies also plan to lobby for an increase in Danvers, where the rate is $4 for the first mile.
“We’re trying to make all three cities uniform, so whatever city you go into, you’ll never have to ask how much,” he said.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beverly — $4 for first sixth-tenths mile, 25 cents for each additional one-fifth mile
Salem — $5.50 for first mile, 25 cents for each additional one-fifth mile
Danvers — $4 for first mile, 25 cents for each additional one-fourth mile
Peabody — $3.50 to $8.75 based on various fare zones