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Public Utility Commission will consider Yellow Cab fare hikes

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Pittsburgh’s taxi and car service market is in the midst of a pricing war. On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission will consider its response to a request from Yellow Cab to increase multiple rates, including the initial “flag drop” base fee from $2.25 for the first seventh of a mile to $4. The company, run by Jamie Campolongo, also seeks up to an $8 surcharge for trips on Friday and Saturday nights.

Pittsburgh’s taxi and car service market is in the midst of a pricing war.

On Thursday, the Public Utility Commission will consider its response to a request from Yellow Cab to increase rates, including the initial “flag drop” base fee from $2.25 for the first seventh of a mile to $4. The company, run by Jamie Campolongo, seeks up to an $8 surcharge for trips on Friday and Saturday nights.

Yellow Cab formally filed for the increase in mid-June.

“The company is competing with an economy creating job opportunities at a rapid pace and competition from Transportation Network Companies (Uber/Lyft) and therefore needs this lease rate increase to attract new drivers,” the filing says.

The company estimates it can make about $1.7 million from its proposed increase package.

Smartphone app-based car services Uber and Lyft decreased their fares by 15 percent this month. The companies practice “surge” pricing, which means they increase rates when rider demand spikes, often on weekend nights when there’s a rush of people heading home from concerts, sporting events and bars.

Yellow Cab, operating under traditional taxi regulations from the utility commission, does not have the ability to adjust pricing based on demand and must request approval to raise rates. The last increase was in 2008.

The filing requests the ability to increase the lease rate for drivers, in part to help cover other expenses. If approved, the increase would net drivers about $15 per shift, and the company $350,000.

Yellow Cab says it is contending with increased costs for health care, registration fees, fleet maintenance and other expenses in addition to the challenge to pay drivers competitively.

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or [email protected].

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