Charleston city leaders debate plan to double nighttime cab fares

Published: Mar. 11, 2015 at 4:25 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - You could soon have to pay more to ride a taxi at night in Charleston.

Charleston City Council discussed a plan Tuesday that would double cab fares during nighttime and overnight hours.

"I think it's ripping people off," Jim Jones, president of Charleston Cab Company, says.

The possible 100 percent hike in fares would be in effect during the 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. hours on the peninsula.

The cost increase is largely a result of surge prices Uber drivers have, which Councilman Bill Moody says is an unfair advantage for others.

"What we did was put in an increase there so that they could go up to 100%," Moody said. "So if the maximum rate is seven dollars, they can go up to a maximum of 14 dollars during the nightime hours."

"I don't know what we would do," Jones said. "I mean, we don't want to gouge people. I don't think I would tell my drivers to charge $14 to go two blocks. I don't think that's feasible."

The city says Uber has created concerns in regards to public safety, similarity in rules for travel methods, and rates, which a new measure hopes to fix.

"What we did was instead of having three ordinances, we want one ordinance that covers all three," Moody said.

The ordinance is also looking to permanently establish the pick up and drop off rule along King Street and Market Street from 12:30 a.m. until 3:00 a.m., something not all cab drivers are pleased with.

"Uber cars aren't marked, so there's no way for them to enforce that ordinance uniformly," Jones said.

Other factors include the lack of commercial insurance for Uber drivers. Taxis and limousines are already required to have it, but Uber is not. We reached out to the company but a spokesperson declined to comment.

"If someone gets in an accident, and has a claim against Uber, their recourse is to sue the company in California, not to sue the driver in Charleston who caused the damage," Jones said.

Moody's hope is this ordinance will help eliminate those problems and create a safer ride for Charleston passengers.

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