Taxi fares to increase June 1 in Worthington
WORTHINGTON -- With the price at the gas pump still hovering close to the $4 mark, the cost of simply getting around is taking a toll on drivers.
The Worthington Taxi Service is among those most affected by the fuel price, and they are raising their rates because of it.
Starting June 1, the community's sole provider of taxi service is increasing its standard rate from $4.50 per ride to $5. Clients who take advantage of the subsidized rates -- offered between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday -- will see a fee increase from $2.50 to $3.
Karen DeBoer, transit director with the Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council, said the increase is necessary to keep the taxi service operating. Worthington Taxi Service was recently awarded a new five-year contract, to begin Jan. 1, with a fee increase to be initiated at that time. The continued rise in fuel prices, however, forced the company to seek its increase sooner.
"When you have four cars on the road at any one time, it gets expensive to keep the gas tank full," said DeBoer.
The last time the taxi service increased its standard rate was in 2008, when gas reached nearly $4 per gallon.
"It's been a concern of the taxi since late winter, early spring," DeBoer said of the fuel price.
It isn't just the price of fuel that has created economic challenges for the local taxi service.
DeBoer said there have been some reports of people illegally operating a for-fare passenger service in Worthington. The city has an ordinance in place stating that anyone wanting to offer such a service must first get approval from the Joint Powers Transit Authority of Prairieland Transit Service.
DeBoer said the authority doesn't want to stagnate transportation options, but rather work to ensure there is limited duplication of services. At the same time, the authority guarantees that certain standards are being met, especially safety.
Anyone interested in more information about starting up a taxi service in the community must contact DeBoer at the SMOC office at 376-3322, extension 231.
As for the taxi service, it operates from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. After hour options are available as requested.
Individuals who want to use the taxi service and receive the subsidized rate must call the dispatcher at SMOC at 372-4444 to schedule a ride. The rate is only available between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.