Tampa taxis can now charge Uber-style surge pricing

- The next time you take a taxi from a sporting event in Tampa, you could be faced with Uber-style surge pricing.

The Public Transportation Commission (PTC) approved a plan allowing taxi drivers to increase their fees during large events in Hillsborough County.

The higher rates are expected to take effect in a few days.

Tom Smith, owner and driver of On Time Taxi in Tampa, was one of many cab companies that urged the PTC to drop the cap on how much taxi drivers could charge for special events. He said drivers for ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, could unfairly charge double to triple their normal rates, while taxi drivers were stunted.

"Normally they're cheaper than us, but at events they're three times more than us, so yeah, that wasn't fair," said Smith.

Under a plan approved Wednesday by the PTC, taxi cabs can raise their fee by a flat rate of $5 per ride during sporting events, large concerts and busy times at the Port of Tampa and Tampa International Airport.

"The idea is, by adding a little money to the fair, you get drivers to go there. It's a traffic nightmare. It's hard to get in there, so you're giving them a little extra money, a little extra incentive, like Uber does," said Smith.

Smith said he is not worried that the extra charge will push customers further towards the popular, often cheaper, ride-sharing services, because the additional price will only be in place during high-traffic events.

"At a special event like this, people want a ride. They'll pay Uber's surge price, because they want to get in a car and get out of there. I don't think it will hurt business at all, because it's only at these special events, when people really want it bad. They're willing to pay a few bucks extra for it," said Smith.

Similarly to Uber's surge pricing, where customers are warned before requesting a ride, taxi companies will also be required to let people know about the added fee in advance.

Smith said there will likely be a sticker placed in each driver's window during peak hours, and drivers can verbally warn passengers as well.

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