Taxi rates go up across New Orleans area; rate increase approved by council this summer _lowres

Advocate staff photo by Bill Feig. Photo shot on 3/15/07 --- Trax #00006236a --- Slug: Index --- Katrina Index story matching photo...Doorcaptain John Carlos Jr. assists a hotel patron into a taxi while working the front at the New Orleans Hilton downtown on the river.

It costs more these days to catch a cab in New Orleans.

Meters in taxis throughout the city are being updated to reflect higher rates approved by the City Council this summer.

The increase officially went into effect Tuesday, though individual cabs cannot start charging the higher rates until their meters are updated. Meter shops are running extended hours to accommodate all the vehicles, said Brad Howard, a City Hall spokesman. It is not clear when the process of changing all the meters will be complete.

The new rates leave the minimum fare, which applies to the first one-eighth of a mile, at $3.50 but increase the cost of each additional one-eighth of a mile to 30 cents, 5 cents more than in the past.

Charges for airport trips go from $33 to $36 for two or fewer people and from $14 to $15 per person for larger groups.

The flat rate for a ride to a cruise ship terminal has gone from $10 for a single rider to $14 for either one or two riders. Groups of three or more will pay $8 per person, $1 more than before, or the metered fare, whichever is greater.

The minimum fare for trips to or from special events at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, UNO Lakefront Arena and other venues will increase from $5 to $7.

Taxi drivers have been calling for a fare increase for years. They were promised one after the city put in new and costly requirements for cabs in 2012, but this is the first rate hike since then.

The industry has been in support of the measure, though some raised concerns about whether higher rates would put the industry at a disadvantage with new competitors like Uber.

The increase originally was approved by a 6-0 vote of the City Council in June. However, administration officials told the council they needed more time to actually put the new rates into effect, leading to what was described as a “friendly veto” by the mayor and a second 6-0 vote to have the measure take effect on Sept. 1. Councilwoman Stacy Head missed the first vote, and Councilman James Gray missed the second one.

Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.