The Prince George's County Council, under pressure by taxi company owners in the rapidly urbanizing area, agreed yesterday to consider legislation to create a taxicab board with broad licensing and regulatory powers.

If approved, the five-member board's first project could be to make a recommendation on a pending proposal to raise rates. The proposal would increase fares from a $1 fee plus 10 cents each tenth of a mile to a $1.50 fee plus 10 cents each eleventh of a mile.

Under the legislation, expected to come up for a vote in the next few weeks, the board would make rate increase recommendations to the county executive and the council.

"I see this {board} as a way to hear complaints by cabdrivers and to monitor the cab system to make sure they are complying with their licenses," said council member Frank P. Casula, who sponsored the legislation.

The legislation, Casula said, is in response to complaints from taxicab company owners that the division of the county Department of Environmental Resources that regulates the industry is understaffed and operating under antiquated policies. They also complain of a six- to eight-week wait for a driver to get licensed. There are more than 900 licensed cabdrivers in the county.

"The taxicab regulations haven't been changed since the 1960s, and it's time to do it," said Stephen M. Barnes, owner of Maryland Transportation Specialist, a holding company for eight cab companies in the county. "The number of cabs has increased 40 percent in the last 1 1/2 years with no additional support from the county. We felt the community, the drivers and the owners need a forum to voice their complaints."

Joseph O. Hansen, owner of the Blue Bird, Yellow and Suburban cab companies, the largest in the county with 170 cabs and 200 drivers, said the county hack office does not have enough staff members to take care of the industry and look for violations.

The council has limited the number of taxis that can be licensed by the county to 700 and there is a 400-car waiting list.

Under the proposed bill, the board would be composed of three representatives from the public and two from the industry. The board would take over responsibility for licensing and regulating from environmental resources by sitting as the appellate body. The department would continue to administer the licensing program.

The board would hear appeals on all violation notices and on any decision by the director of the Environmental Resources Department to deny or revoke a license. The decision of the board could be appealed to the Circuit Court.

The board also would be responsible for writing the licensing examination, suggesting rate changes to the county executive and making recommendations on programs, policies and new regulations.

The proposal would not result in added cost for regulating the industry, said J. Kenneth Battle, director of the council's Government and Fiscal Operations Committee.