Taxi fares in Seattle are expected to increase by $8 for a trip between downtown and the airport.

Share story

Taxi fares in Seattle would increase by $8 for a trip from downtown to the airport under a City Council proposal.

The proposal, meant to reimburse drivers for rising costs, passed in committee last week and is scheduled for a full council vote Monday. If approved, fares would increase 30 days after the ordinance is signed by Mayor Mike McGinn.

The base rate, now $2.50 for the first one-tenth mile, would become $2.50 for the first one-ninth mile. After that, the distance charge of 25 cents per one-tenth of a mile would increase to 30 cents per one-ninth of a mile. The time charge of 25 cents per 30 seconds would change to 30 cents per 36 seconds.

The $32 flat rate from downtown to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport would increase to $40.

In public testimony last month, drivers were split about whether the increase is a good idea. Some welcomed the chance for more income, while others thought the boost would drive away customers — into competing town cars or other for-hire cars that resemble taxis but are less strictly regulated.

Speakers pointed to other problems, including a tendency by some drivers to ignore low-profit calls from people wanting short rides, including the elderly.

Cabbies are coping with a pair of new state mandates passed by lawmakers in 2011: to pay sales tax on the daily lease fees to use a cab, and to pay for state-industrial insurance, or workers’ compensation. Those costs plus general inflation add up to an average $12.10 per shift or $1.11 per trip, a city staff report estimated.

There are 929 taxicabs, operated by 2,500 drivers, in Seattle and King County combined.

Seattle cab fares were last increased in 2008.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or On Twitter @mikelindblom.