Responding to cab drivers' complaints about rapidly increasing gasoline prices, the Arlington Transportation Commission voted last night to recommend adding a 30-cent surcharge for the first one-eighth mile of each trip.
The Arlington County Board could approve the surcharge at its meeting this Saturday. Since the commission declared the need for it was an emergency, it would go into effect immediately.
The current charge for the first eighth of a mile is 60 cents.
"Emergency" legislation would be in effect for 30 days after board approval and could be extended for a longer period. The commission also recommended that the board consider eventually replacing the surcharge with a higher rate - 90 cents - for the first eighth-mile.
One frustrated cab driver told the commission that the 156 Arlington cabbies without access to taxi company gas pumps "panic every night when they go home, wondering if they're going to get gas the next day."
The commission also voted to recommend that the board seek special gas allocations for cab drivers.
The County Board voted last February to boost taxi fares by 16 percent. It was the first fare increase since 1975, even though some cab drivers complained then that the higher fares would place undue hardship on the elderly and the poor.
Last night, William Malone, a driver for Diamond Cab of Arlington, declared: "I'm sick and tired of people talking about housewives and little old ladies. I've got a housewife and little old lady, too. We've got to make a living for our families."