(Jeffrey MacMillan)

This post has been updated.

In a move that Chairman Ron Linton described as “reasonable,” the D.C. Taxicab Commission approved a proposal to increase fares by 44 percent Tuesday, along with other measures that Linton said would supplement drivers’ incomes and turn the city’s fleet of cabs into a “first class system.”

(How much would you pay for a taxi? Take the poll.)

Linton said the commission’s proposal will be published in the D.C. Register on Dec. 23, which will be followed by a 30-day comment period.

Additionally, Linton said the commission will devote the entire public comment portion of its Jan. 11 meeting to these new rules.

The controversial increase is part of a 20-page report issued by the commission Tuesday.

The drop rate — the base fare that riders pay at the beginning of a cab ride — would remain $3, but the per-mile rate would jump from $1.50 to $2.16. The original proposal, submitted by an independent taxi driver, would have lowered the base fare to $2.75 but raised the per-mile rate to $2.75.

According to the report, this amounts to an average additional cost of $1.28 per trip for riders traveling two-and-a-half miles or less. Trips shorter than five miles would see an increase of $1.84.

This adjustment “would improve drivers’ revenue while not adversely affecting the riding public,” according to the report. Linton said that drivers saw a 20 to 30 percent dropoff in income when the zone system was replaced by meters in April 2008.

In addition to the fare increase, the wait-time rate would increase from $15 to $25 per hour.

The proposal also eliminates several additional fees, including all luggage fees, additional passenger fees, animal fees, the emergency fuel surcharge fee, and the personal service fee.

Linton said the fare hike will be tied to several service improvements, the first to modernize the fleet by phasing out older, higher mileage vehicles.

Additionally, the commission would implement a cash-free meter system that will allow riders to pay with credit and debit cards as well as a GPS for drivers. These upgrades are expected to be implemented by the fall of 2012.

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