Taxi fares from airport may increase by $2 per trip

Airport Taxi and two other taxi companies are using brand new vehicles, like this one, to transport passengers to and from Richmond International Airport.
It may soon cost a little more to grab a taxi from Richmond International Airport, but airport officials believe the extra fee will be worth it.

The Capital Region Airport Commission is asking Henrico and three other localities in the region to approve an additional $2 fee for taxi service that originates at the airport. Henrico's Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing Oct. 23 to consider a change to its county code that would permit the fee.

Earlier this year, CRAC officials created new, stricter standards for walk-up taxi service at the airport and invited bids from taxi companies willing to meet them. Officials selected the proposals of three companies – Airport Taxi, Galaxy Cab and Richmond Flyer Taxi, which as of July 1 are the only three permitted to transport walk-up passengers. (Other taxi companies can pick up passengers on a pre-arranged basis only.)

The new standards required that each of the three companies:

• use only vehicles that are new as of this year;

• provide uniformed drivers who speak English as a second language, at a minimum, and who have completed a mandatory training program

• accept credit cards.

Each of the three companies is required to pay a $2-per-trip fee to CRAC for the right to provide pick-up service. Companies that provide pre-arranged service pay a $2.60 fee per trip to CRAC.

Because each of the three walk-up service companies invested heavily in order to meet the new standards, allowing them to recoup that $2 fee from passengers would help defray their costs, airport President and CEO Jon Mathiasen told the Henrico Board of Supervisors Sept. 25.

"We're trying to improve the overall appearance of ground transportation at Richmond International Airport," he said. "It is the front door and the last door that many visitors see [of Greater Richmond]."

The new standards make the airport one of few in the nation to offer an entire fleet of brand new vehicles (41 in total, including 5 that are fitted for disabled passengers), Mathiasen said. Each vehicle makes an average of 15 trips per day, Mathiasen said.

Taxi fares from the airport last increased five years ago this month.

Three Chopt District Supervisor Dave Kaechele said he had noticed a difference since the new standards took effect.

"The improvement is dramatic out there," he said. "It's very professional. I think it's got to make a big impression on visitors."

The airport is investing several hundred thousand dollars on a new queuing system that will help taxis conserve gas while they wait for passengers, Mathiasen said. It should be active within about two months.
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