Arlington County commuters who are grappling with the problem of getting to the nearest subway station now that bus routes have been cut back and the once free parking at Pentagon City curtailed will be interested in two proposals before the county board.
The proposals - which will be the subject of a public hearing scheduled for October 15 - would create a Metro feeder program which would ferry commuters to the closest train station by commercial taxi cabs for approximately half the price of regular meter service.
Under a joint proposal sponsored by Red Top of Arlington and Arlington Yellow Cab. morning commuters would call an hour in advance for a shared cab ride, said John Meinick, attorney for both companies. They would be picked up at home and dropped off at the nearest Metro station.
Fares under the seven-zone system would range from 90 cents a person in the Court-house Road area to $1.95 near the Arlington-Fairfax county line.
Evening rush hour commuters would be able to board cabs at metro stations Charles Hammond, Arlington County consumer affairs director, said that under this proposal the cabs would be required to leave after a ten minute wait for passengers.
Arlington Diamond Cab, Inc. has sponsored a shared ride proposal not limited to rush hour which would impose a 25 cent rush hour surcharge. Diamond's proposal consists of a 10-zone fare system, ranging from 85 cents to $2.15.
The main difference between the two proposals is responsibility for organizing commuter groups. Under the Diamond proposal commuters would be required to arrange shared cab rides with at least one other person (they would not be required to call an hour in advance). The Red Top proposal would leave those arrangements up to the cab company.
Melnick said that Red Top and Yellow Can anticipate a first year loss of $15,000 should their proposal be adopted. "This is commercial carpooling. It's really a thing of the future, as the Metro system expands and gasoline becomes more expensive."
Jim Yates, president of Diamond Cab said that something called "cab consciousness" is the incentive to that company's involvement. "A lot of people don't ride cabs because they think the cost is fairly high. People can share the fare at an affordable cost in comparison to owning a second car. Maybe by offering a discount fare from the feeder system people will think of using cabs more often."