More than 80 Montgomery County cab drivers organized a four-hour slowdown yesterday to protest the gasoline crunch and push for an immediate 50-cent surcharge per passenger. County Executive Charles Gilchrist scheduled a public hearing for Monday to consider the request.
Taxi drivers for the larger of two Montgomery County companies, Barwood Cab Inc., aired complaints at a 1:30 p.m. ogranizational meeting before taking their gripes to Gilchrist, Barwood manager Lee Barnes said Thursday evening.
The drivers want "immediate relief" in the form of a passenger surcharge that Gilchrist could approve Monday. Actual fare increases also are desired by the drivers, but would take longer to implement, Barnes said.
Cab driver spokesman Bobby Meadows, who organized the protest, said, "I'm confident there's going to be regular service after Monday because I'm confident we're going to get what we want - a 50-cent surcharge and a gas allocation."
Meadows said Gilchrist pledged to use "every influence that he possibly can" to provide additional gasoline for the Barwood company pumps.
"The confrontation that would have been is not going to materialize, thank goodness. I was totally flabbergasted by the way it came off," he said.
Approximately 40 percent of the company's 264 drivers participated in the 3 to 7 p.m. slowdown, and called for additional gas allotments to the company pumps and an immediate surcharge. Between 100 and 200 customer calls for service were turned away he said.
"We need the gasoline there's no doubt about that," Barnes said, adding that the company pumps would run dry by Sunday with no gasoline arriving before next month.
Barnes said all drivers participating in the protest had returned to work as required by 7:15 p.m. yesterday.
"I was a little surprised . . . A lot of times a group that bands together to do something won't band together to undo it," Barnes said.
Drivers for Silver Spring Taxi Inc. which runs 50 cabs in Montgomery County did not participate in the protest.
We're running all our cars," a Silver Spring dispatcher said. "We've got plenty of gas."