AUSTIN (KXAN) - With big events like the Formula One race just weeks away the city is working to make it easier to catch a cab. But cab drivers say the current amount of taxis in Austin has their income taking a plunge.
The Taxi Drivers Association of Austin (TDAA) is even more upset now that the city may approve 30 new cab permits on Thursday.
In July, the city approved an additional 45 permits for two franchised companies: 30 to Lone Star Cab and 15 to Austin Cab.
When that happened the market became overcrowded, having a negative effect on business, taxi drivers said.
For commuters, the extra cabs means more ways to get around, but for taxi drivers -- more cabs means more competition.
"What those 45 permits did was to lower the drivers' income," said Dave Passmore, president of the TDAA. "Even though there was an increase in fair and in increase in the meter -- drivers' incomes are down."
Astudy conducted by the Austin Transportation Department shows that while rates went up drivers made about one fewer trip in July 2012 than in July 2011.
Cab drivers also saw nearly a $500 decrease in income this July compared to last -- an average of $2.6 0 less each hour. The study also found that the number of hours drivers worked increased by 13 percent.
Thursday, Austin City Council will decide whether to add an additional 30 franchise permits for Lone Star Cab and Austin Cab.
The TDAA held a press conference Wednesday to express their opinion on the new permits.
"If an additional 30 permits are allowed it would be more waiting and less income for me," said Merga Gemeda, who has been driving a cab here in Austin for more than a decade.
Cab drivers are also hoping the city will update the taxi ordinance, taking into consideration their income and other modes of transportation.
"The formula is 22 years old and we would like them to reevaluate," said Passmore. "There weren't other modes of transportation at the time -- no shuttles, no pedi-cabs, no airport charters."
Earlier this year, a representative of Lone Star Cab -- a small franchised company --- said the additional permits were necessary to keep the market competitive.
Cab drivers say they make most of their money on weekends where big events are in town -- like for ACL and the upcoming F1 race , but on a normal day drivers say they spend most of their time waiting for customers.
Some commuters still say the additional taxis could prove to be a good thing for the city.
"More cabs, more people not parking cars would be a good thing because there's less parking all the time," said John Clark, an Austin resident.
Currently there are just over 720 permitted cab drivers in Austin. If passed, the additional permits would be issued later this year.
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