Cambridge Taxi Rates May Increase, Matching Boston's

Car-less Cantabrigians and Quad residents unwilling to make that lonely, late-night trek are among those who could be affected by a hike in taxi rates currently being considered by the Cambridge License Commission.

A group of drivers has petitioned the commission to increase the first drop fee-the amount at which the meter starts, currently $1-by 30 percent, bringing it closer to the $1.50 charged in Boston and Brookline.

First drop fees in Arlington and Sommerville are $1 and 95 cents, respectively.

Some Cambridge residents want the commission to find ways to improve service as well as rates.

They cite complaints of drivers illegally refusing "short fares," inexpensive trips within the city on which drivers make little money.

"I have heard all kinds of horror stories about people trying to get cabs," said City Councillor Henrietta A. Davis, who chairs the traffic and transportation committee.

"There's no end to the horror stories, unless you're going to the airport. Then you get the best service in the world," she added.

Taxis, because they are licensed and regulated by the city, are considered public transportation.

The commission will form a committee composed of representatives from the industry, chosen by various companies, residents and a hired consultant, chosen by the commission.

The committee is charged with creating a plan for adjusting first-drop, mileage and flat rates and improving service.

Sources on the commission say the committee's reports should be available near by the end of November.