Cab fares in the District will go up a quarter a ride beginning Oct. 10, another ripple effect on consumers of the higher prices at the gas pump imposed by the crisis in the Middle East.

The 25-cent increase was ordered yesterday by the District Taxicab Commission's Panel on Rates and Rules in the form of an emergency surcharge, which, unlike fare increases, can be imposed without public hearings.

The surcharge will remain in effect for at least 90 days.

The commission panel said the increase is needed to offset the rising cost of gasoline in the area. It also recommended raising fares in every zone by 10 percent before the end of the year to compensate drivers for cost-of-living increases.

The combination of a 10 percent fare increase and the surcharge would mean that rides that now cost $2.30 would cost $2.75, and rides that now cost $8.90 would cost $10.05. But panel members also said the surcharge will be reviewed in 90 days and could be increased.

Cabdrivers said the quarter-per-ride surcharge won't begin to compensate for the prices they are paying for gas.

"Twenty-five cents doesn't cover the beginning of the price war," said Isaiah Anderson, manager of Capitol Cab Co. "My gas has gone up 46 cents a gallon."

The average price of both unleaded and premium gas locally has increased 16.7 cents a gallon since Aug. 1, according to the Lundberg Survey of nationwide petroleum prices. Most cabdrivers use premium gas, which now costs an average of $1.44 a gallon locally.

"I can live with the 10 percent cost-of-living raise. I understand that we don't want to price ourselves out of the market," said Anderson. But "in 90 days gas could cost another $2 more."

Andrew Schaeffer, vice president of District Cabs, said his company originally recommended a 25-cent surcharge. But after prices at the pumps continued to rise, he said, the company submitted a new proposal for either a 15 to 20 percent increase per zone or an increase of 50 to 60 cents per ride.

"We're happy to get some relief, but it's not nearly enough," said Schaeffer.

Commission Chairman Carrolena M. Key said the panel considered recommendations from the taxi industry, then developed its own formula for a surcharge. "In general, we took a sampling of the manifests of drivers {a daily record of drops}, figured out the total money spent daily for gas, looked at the rise in gasoline costs . . . and came up with the 25 cents," she said.

The D.C. Taxicab Commission has increased fares twice since it was created in 1987 and took over the supervision of rates from the D.C. Public Service Commission. The first increase was 40 cents a ride in March 1988. The second was a 5.2 percent increase that went into effect Aug. 11, 1989.

Key said the last increase "did not take into consideration several rising costs drivers had to absorb, such as increases in the cost of insurance and the overall cost of doing business."

A crackdown on taxicab violators by the city started June 1, and a new fine schedule substantially increased penalties for cab violations. The fine for driving without insurance, for example, rose from $5 to $500, and the penalty for failing to pick up a passenger from $25 to $250.

Two weeks ago, scores of cabdrivers skipped work for 12 hours to demonstrate outside the District Building for higher fares and lower fines. The result was a scramble for cabs in many areas, including most downtown hotels.

Cabdrivers also have long complained about the District's zone system and fares. The system is being studied by a committee of the Taxicab Commission.

"We're in the research stage," said Key. "We have several cabs equipped with meters, making predetermined trips. The costs of the trips are compared to the costs of the same trips made by cabs using the zone system."

Key said the research should be completed later this week. The D.C. Council makes the final decision, which Key said would probably be made early next year.