For Reliable taxi driver Stan Manewith, as fuel prices scale to record highs, his take home pay plunges to record lows.
"It costs probably 10 more dollars a day to operate. For a guy making $300 a week, now he makes $250," Manewith said.
Manewith admits higher gas prices are forcing fellow drivers to downgrade from super unleaded to regular. That means checkups are more critical to make sure tires are properly inflated, engines are running smoothly and gas is maximized to the last drop.
"Eighty seven octane; I prefer running 89 or higher; then you gotta do more frequent tune-ups because you're running a more frequent lower gas," Manewith said.
Reliable and other local cab companies hope the city will raise taxi meters’ startup rates from their current $1.50. If the city doesn't, Manewith fears he'll have to take financial matters into his own cabs.
"I have to figure out ways to counter the business, you know, whether it be a fuel surcharge or rate increase. I have to pass the buck on to somebody," Manewith said.
With an average of about 20 roundtrips a day, some cab drivers are avoiding the gas hikes by dropping off their car keys for good.
"I've lost already two drivers within the last two and a half months just because of the fuel prices. They said they can't make any money. Gas pump gets all their money," Manewith said.
The gouging gas costs are costing cab drivers and their business more than ever.