Cabdrivers asked the D.C. Taxicab Commission yesterday to consider raising fares in 25 percent increments for each zone traveled to cover rising gasoline prices and the higher cost of living.

The drivers testified at a public hearing, responding to the commission's proposed 10 percent increase for each zone. In September, the commission ordered an emergency 25-cent surcharge that began Oct. 10 and will last at least 90 days.

Under the drivers' plan, the cost of traveling from one zone to the next would increase 25 percent. If a passenger traveled into a third zone, the 25 percent increase would be calculated on the already-increased fare, so that the fare would rise geometrically for each additional zone.

For example, the cost of traveling from Zone 1 to Zone 2 would rise from $3.60 to $4.50, and the charge for going across all eight zones would increase from $8.90 to $14.35.

The drivers who favored the incremental increase said current rates do not cover the price of gasoline, which has risen almost 17 cents a gallon since Aug. 1.

Other cabbies argued that such an incremental increase would be exorbitant and suggested that a flat 10 percent increase be combined with higher rates for group fares, personal services and waiting time, among other things. Those drivers fear that 25 percent increases would cause a significant drop in business.