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What Fare's Fair?

In London and New York, hailing a cab is putting a bigger dent in your wallet. Both cities face a similar problem—a shortage of drivers—and both have chosen the same solution: higher fares. Finding a black cab in London late at night is notoriously hard. Last November London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, introduced an evening surcharge to lure more drivers to the night shift. Now a five-mile trip after 8 p.m. can cost over $20. (Only Tokyo cabs are more expensive by night.) Meanwhile, in New York, where 20 to 25 percent of yellow cabs sit idle every day for want of someone behind the wheel, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that fares must go up, but he hasn't yet indicated by how much. The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which represents fleet owners, wants the initial charge to increase by 50 cents and the meter to click 23 percent faster, which would make the average fare rise from $6.45 to $8.45. What's more, it wants the flat rate from JFK airport hiked from $35 to $49—about the equivalent of 32 rides on the bus or subway, or 45 minutes in a horse-drawn carriage in Central Park, tip included.

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