Driving Up Prices

Deena Mueller

Thank God, the price of gas has finally gone down! Now will someone please tell Community Taxi? For those of you who don’t know, Community Taxi has jacked up its fees. The current fare for a one-way from Colgate to the Syracuse airport is $120! That’s a 100 percent increase from my freshman year. You know there’s a serious problem when the taxi to the airport costs nearly the same as your flight!

Now not only is that price quite literally highway robbery, but it is also ridiculously disproportional. For one, according to a sign on the village green, Syracuse is only 39 miles from Hamilton. That’s essentially a price of $3 per mile, which is way too expensive. To give you some perspective, when renting a Colgate van the charge is 55 cents per mile.

?Moreover, the service is not that classy to be worth so much money. For $120, there better be a bottle of chilled champagne waiting for me in the backseat. But there’s not, in fact, some of the time the cab isn’t even waiting when it is supposed to be. Worse is having to wait an hour to leave Syracuse until several other passengers arrive. Community Taxi is mediocre, which would be fine if they charged reasonable fees.

To give an idea of how haphazard the service is, let me recount my first experience with them. It was August 2006, and I was supposed to be picked up at 10 a.m., but when I found out I was going to be delayed an hour I called to see if that was okay. I was reassured it would be fine. It wasn’t. Flash forward four hours and I’m calling 411 to get the telephone number for Colgate’s Outdoor Ed to beg my Wilderness adventure group to wait for me, since I was still waiting for a cab in Syracuse! When it finally came, I was told the driver forgot to pick me up. Fine, that stuff happens sometimes, but I’ve heard worse stories.

One of the drivers admitted to me that he knew of an occurrence where the driver simply refused to pick someone up. Friends have told me of times there were no seats left, and they had to sit on the floor for the hour long ride. To be honest, I expect this from a small time company, but I expect it to come at small time prices or at least fair prices.

Granted after gaining a monopoly on the market the prices will go up, it’s the American way. Also, for a while gas was quite expensive, but the fares never reflected the true cost of the rides. Right now gas is as cheap as if has ever been in the almost five years that I’ve had a driver’s license. So shouldn’t the cost of a taxi be at a five year low? Also, Community Taxi isn’t just getting the fare from you. At holidays they graciously drop the roundtrip price to $200 but transport you with 3-5 other students all paying the same rate. Essentially they’re getting a thousand dollars to drive five students back and forth to the airport. Imagine the profit margin!

Also this is bad for the economy. When the economy is tanking (aka now) it needs consumers to have confidence and increase their spending to put money back into the market. By charging such a high rate it will discourage people from using their service. They’ll find cheaper ways. Here’s one: Who needs a ride to the airport for winter break? I’d take you for $50; my number is up on Facebook. Ok, don’t actually call me, but I’m sure there are many students who’d be willing to serve as a taxi for far less money than Community Taxi will charge. In fact, at this point, with our newly shortened winter break, parking at the airport wouldn’t cost much more than a taxi, and unlike the taxi, you could split the cost with friends.

The truth is that most Colgate students can afford these rates, but that doesn’t make it fair. Injustice is injustice whether you can afford to deal with it or not. Community Taxi should lower their rates. If they did, perhaps we’d go to Syracuse more often and be less isolated in rural, central New York — hey, that sounds like an admissions ploy! If the town can’t provide reasonable fares, perhaps Colgate should supplement. The two shuttles at holiday breaks aren’t enough. We should have more frequent, affordable access to Syracuse.

In the meantime, one thing is for sure, you won’t see me using Community Taxi anytime soon!