Taxis: Taking Folks for a Ride?
Out of curiosity, Plaintalker obtained a copy of the rate card and some interesting facts emerged.
Five zones are drawn within the city, with separate rates for those under 55 and those over 55. The lowest rate, $3 for passengers under 55, applies to a broad area bordered by the Green Brook, Johnston Avenue, Woodland Avenue, Hillside Avenue, Randolph Road, Plainfield Avenue, Sherman Avenue and Grant Avenue, which turns into West End Avenue. Seniors over 55 pay $2.50, according to the chart. Presumably this is because the taxi companies are all based in the central business district within Zone A.
Then to the east and west, zones B, C and D spread out. Zone E is from the Dunellen border to Rock Avenue.
Surprise number one: The senior rate for zone E is misstated on the rate map as $2.75 when it should be $3.25.
Another surprise: Rates have not increased since 2000.
Maybe that’s why drivers seem to have a do-it-yourself approach to rates and round everything off to $4.
My ride from Park & Seventh to Washington Community School should have cost me $2.50 at the senior rate. No wonder the driver seemed so surprised when I added a generous tip to the $4 fee. The ride back, after 9 p.m., should have been $3 due to a $.50 surcharge for late-evening rides.
My son’s $4 ride each way to and from the Plainfield Health Center should have been $3.50.
Realistically, even though the rate chart is in effect, how many people are going to be able hold the driver to the letter of the law? It took this writer a while even to figure out the zones. The rate chart is in English only, which makes it even harder for people with other languages to decipher the zones.
Residents with cars seldom need to take taxis. The population that needs to take taxis often is the one that might benefit by learning the proper rates for different zones.
Meanwhile, it’s a wonder that the taxi companies have not sought a rate increase in eight years!