, Salem, MA

June 24, 2013

Our view: Need a cab? Got a degree in math?

The Salem News

---- — OK, get out your calculators.

If a senior citizen calls a taxi in Beverly and rides 11/2 miles to the Salem border, then another mile and a half in Salem to reach her destination, how much will it cost?

Let’s see, in Beverly it’s $4 for the first six-tenths of a mile, plus 25 cents for each additional one-fifth mile, and in Salem it’s $5.50 for the first mile and 25 cents for each additional one-fifth mile, so that makes ... well, at least $9.50, but after that, we’re a little hazy. Any math teachers out there?

We’re guessing most taxi riders are as much in the dark as we are.

So, while it’s not the most pressing problem facing the region, the issue of confusing taxi fares on the North Shore is one that seems relatively easy to remedy.

As Sean McKinnon, general manager of North Shore Taxi, pointed out at a meeting in Beverly City Hall Monday night, “If we can get one regular rate and one senior (discount) rate in Salem, Beverly and Danvers, it would go a long way in making it less confusing for the people and the drivers.”

It’s hard to disagree. When customers and drivers have to convert from one-sixth miles to one-fifth miles (and in Danvers, one-fourth miles), it’s hard to keep up even with a calculator.

Is this not a perfect area for city councilors and selectmen to work together? Could a few representatives from each community sit down together and come up with a standard rate — or at least a standard way of measuring when fare increases will occur?

Let’s face it, lots of customers take cabs from one community to another, and a system to increase transparency about fares would have much to recommend it.