Use of taxi subsidies by seniors, those with disabilities and those with HIV/AIDS has declined in West Hollywood, according to a memo by the city’s Department of Human Services and Rent Control.
The department attributes the decline in part to the maximum of $14 set for each subsidized trip, which, as taxi rates rise, means it won’t cover many out-of-town trips. Currently taxi rates are $2.85 to enter the taxi and $2.50 for each mile travelled.
Another factor cited by the department is its decision in July of last year to switch from letting taxi passengers use paper coupons for subsidized rides to having them use a debit card. Drivers and passengers apparently have had difficulty using the cards.
Under the program for those 62 and older or with certain disabilities, residents pay a fee of $8 a month that lets them take taxi trips valued at a maximum of $14 a ride or a total of $28 a month.
The other program, known as the “social services taxi program,” is for people living with HIV/ AIDS. Participants, who must be screened in advance by Aid for AIDS, a non-profit group, get free taxi rides to medical appointments during certain business hours. A concern the department has raised about that program is that participants disclose their HIV status to taxi drivers by virtue of their using it.
The department is proposing that the monthly subsidy for the program for seniors and the disabled be increased to $50 a month and that the $14 cap on a single trip be increased to $25. It also is proposing absorbing the “social services taxi program” into the other program, which means users won’t disclose their HIV status by virtue of their participation.
For this fiscal year, which ends in July 2015, the changes won’t require any additional funding. The department report estimates an increase of no more than $30,000 would be required for the 2016 fiscal year.
Currently there are seven taxi companies that have franchises to operate in West Hollywood.
The proposal will be considered by the city’s Transportation Commission at its meeting on Wednesday. If the Commission accepts it, it will be referred to the City Council for approval.
The Transportation Commission meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Plummer Park Community Center, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd. at Martel.
$2.85 to start. $2.70 per mile.