Taxi cabs line up on 7th Ave. near Penn Station....

Taxi cabs line up on 7th Ave. near Penn Station. (Nov. 30, 2010) Credit: Craig Ruttle

Hailing a cab in New York City could get pricier -- and soon.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission will discuss raising fares up to 20 percent -- the first increase since 2006, its chairman, David Yassky, said Monday. He described the increase as "reasonable."

Cabbies have been lobbying the agency to raise fares for more than a year. A hearing Thursday will be the first time the TLC officially considers two proposals introduced last year to tweak rates, which would mean forking over an extra 16 percent to 20 percent per ride.

"The fare hasn't changed since 2006, so it is reasonable for taxi drivers and fleet owners to put this on the table," Yassky said in a statement Monday. In 2004, there was a 26 percent across-the-board fare increase. In 2006, the cost per minute for a taxi idling in traffic rose to 40 cents.

An administration source who was not authorized to speak publicly said taxi advocates "have made a highly compelling case" for a fare increase, adding that it could be implemented by July.

The average ride in January was 2.76 miles and lasted about 11 1/2 minutes, the TLC said, for a fare of about $11.82.

Under a proposal by the alliance, each click of a taxi meter would increase from 40 cents to 50 cents, there would be a $1 morning rush-hour surcharge and a late-night charge doubled to $1.

Jarenton Munoz, 33, a cabdriver since 1999, said higher gas prices and overhead costs have reduced his weekly take-home pay to about $800 -- or about $40,000 before taxes.

"The riders understand it's a long time without getting a raise," he added. "They'll probably take fewer cabs for two or three weeks, but they'll come back."

With Ivan Pereira

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