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San Francisco taxi riders can now pay fares upfront

Taxi with logo for the Flywheel ride-hailing service in San Francisco | Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

From Wednesday, San Francisco taxi riders can pay a flat upfront fare instead of paying the meter at the end of the ride.

The change is due to the Upfront Fare Pilot program, which allows riders booking cabs through e-hail apps to see and pay trip prices in advance.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said the pilot program will help get customers into taxis by allowing them to know the fare in advance. 

“Our hope is that the pilot benefits taxi users by providing them with upfront information about their fares, relieving meter anxiety, and allowing customers to price shop for similar on-demand services,” the SFMTA said in a blog post on their website.

Another aspect of the pilot allows taxi cab firms, Arro, Flywheel, and YoTaxi to pick up Uber customers through the Uber app. 

Uber headquarters in San Francisco | Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The city transit agency has also said that the pilot will increase taxi driver’s earnings by roughly 10% by tapping them into the Uber customer pool.

The agency regulates local taxis and said that cab drivers are free to opt out of the program and accept customers through taxi dispatch alone with no penalties.

The partnership comes after years of bitterness between Uber and the local taxi industry—Flywheel founder Hansu Kim sued Uber in 2016 alleging anti-competitive practices. 

Supervisor Connie Chan opposes aspects of the pilot program and sponsored a resolution in September calling for the dispatch of Uber rides to taxis to be removed from the pilot program.

Chan plans to bring the resolution back up during a public hearing next month. She said that Uber and similar companies cause traffic congestion on local streets, which she said in an interview is at odds with a “transit first city.”

Garrett Leahy can be reached at garrett@sfstandard.com