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struction work. I have done a lot of that myself, and I am somewhat familiar with it. I still question the increased cost, 100 percent, 150 percent; in this case that I mentioned in my own district, 200 percent, in a period of 5 years. There is just something haywire in between there somewhere. For the most part, the equipment they are using is the equipment they owned 5 years, 6, 7 years ago because they just have not done any work during the interim, unless they have done it for the Government, and that increased cost cannot be attributed to increased cost of labor, because labor, I do not think, has doubled during that period of time.
Mr. HARRISON. No, sir; and our prices have not gone up 200 percent vou mentioned. Our paving costs have increased; we are up in the neighborhood of 50 or 60 percent.
Mr. BATEs. Now, let us take the Dupont Circle job as just an illustration, because it was mentioned here this morning. It was mentioned at some other point in the hearings.
Your first estimate had costs of the Dupont Circle job as beingwhen was that made, and what was the estimated cost?
Mr. HARRISON. Mr. Chairman, I would rather compare another project for this reason, that the Dupont Circle project, the plans were never static; the plans were changed.
Mr. BATEs. So you have no relative comparison or condition there. Mr. HARRISON. 'On the K Street elevated structure, the estimate on that project, the prewar estimate, was a trifle over $2,000,000—2 million, as I recall, and one or two hundred thousand dollars. We have just received bids on it, and the low bid was $3,400,000. Mr. BATES. Three million four? Mr. HARRISON. Which does not reflect a hundred or two hundred percent at all that much of an increase at all.
Mr. Bates. Well now, from the studies, Mr. Harrison, that your department has made, say, of future costs, a year from now, 2
years from now, whatever basis that was available for that study, have you come to any conclusion as to whether or not prices, say, a year from now or 2 years from now will be substantially less than what they are today?
Mr. HARRISON. Mr. Chairman, as other people, we hope they will, but we see no reason why they will be lower.
Mr. Bates. The reason I mention that again today, which I mentioned yesterday, is because the United States News-and they have some pretty reliable reporting in that paper, that magazine-estimated that the cost of housing, which is practically all framework but embraces carpentry, of course, and plumbing and heating and all the accessories, a year and a half from now or a year from now may be 30 percent less than what it is today.
Mr. HARRISON. There is probably a good reason for that in that lumber has increased more than any other commodity. Lumber has increased I think the latest figures are-182 percent.
Mr. BATES. 182 percent. Mr. HARRISON. Yes; and that can come down, the price can come down, which would materially affect housing.
Mr. BATEs. Of course, where you are doing a lot of concrete work and a lot of framework, that is going to affect your concrete work
Mr. HARRISON. Yes, sir; structural work which combines asphalt, steel, and concrete.
Mr. Bates. Has steel gone up to any considerable extent, reinforcing steel?
Mr. HARRISON. It has gone up, but I think not anywhere near comparable with lumber. The figure I think I saw was around 20 or 25 percent.
Mr. Bates. That is a matter that has given us all very deep concern as to how far we ought to go in whatever program it may be, because some day somebody is going to pay for it.
Mr. CARRY. That is right.
Mr. Bates. Is Mr. Keeting here?
ERAL MANAGER, YELLOW CAB CO. OF DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, INC., WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. KEETING. Mr. Chairman, I am Alden T. Keeting, and I am vice president and general manager of the Yellow Cab Co. of the District of Columbia, Inc., which has about a thousand taxicab drivers out there.
I would like to present this statement to the committee rather than read it; and, in turn, I would like to present to the committee four drivers that I have here, if you please, sir.
Mr. Bates. Well, you proceed with your statement first.
I am Alden T. Keeting. I represent the Yellow Cab Co. of the District of Columbia, Inc., an organization of nearly 1,000 taxicab operators. Of this number, more than 200 taxicabs are owned and operated by the drivers themselves.
Like every other taxicab driver in Washington, our men buy their own gasoline, and thus pay gasoline taxes to the District of Columbia government. In fact, the 10,000 taxicab drivers of Washington now contribute to the District and Federal Governments, at the present gasoline rate, approximately $1,350,000 per year. This figure is based on an annual consumption of 3,000 gallons per taxicab at 412 cents per gallon.
This is only part of the special taxes paid. Few people realize how much in direct special taxes is paid for the operation of each taxicab. For your information, sir, I would like to briefly summarize these taxes:
The average registration fee, based on 1946 registry, is $24 per taxi. cab; the driver's identification card costs $5 yearly; the public-utility license costs $25 for each cab; gasoline taxes cost about $135; and the driver's permit $1 per year-that is broken down from $3 for 3 years which combined, reaches the very substantial total of $190 per year, without including insurance charges and other expenses.
Such large contributions to governmental revenue should entitle the contributors to a voice, not only in whether there is to be an additional tax, but also in the manner in which their tax dollars are spent, in my opinion.
It goes without saying that taxicab drivers are unanimous in voicing a decisive “No," to any further increase in the gasoline tax rates, at this time.
A 1-cent increase would add $300,000 per year to their cost of operation. These men are now working 10 to 12 hours per day to make a living. Many of them are ex-servicemen recently discharged from the armed forces.
As an indication of the pressure under which drivers are already laboring, as a result of the slackened business and increased competition, 31 out of approximately 250 owner-drivers in the Yellow Cab fleet, failed to renew their PUC licenses at the March 31 deadline.
This indicates that that many men, or more than 12 percent, and it is assumed that the percentage will hold true throughout the industry, have decided to seek some other occupation. It also may be seen as a precursor of what may occur as business drops off further during the slower summer months.
Cab drivers, as a rule, are interested more than the average person, not only in the appearance of their city, but also in the condition of its streets and highways, and most of them can understand that it should cost more after the war than it did before to operate the Highway Department.
Most of those with whom I have talked realize that this is true not only as a result of increased material and labor costs but also to catch up with work neglected or slighted during the war years.
But they believe, and I agree, that the present condition of Washington's highways do not call for the excessive funds requested by the Highway Department apparently with the plan of "building Rome in a day," particularly in view of present inflationary costs, and also particularly in view of the prospective penalty to them at a time when their incomes are decreasing.
A cab driver, whether he rents his vehicle or owns it outright, is in business for himself and, therefore, may be classed as a businessman, although a small one. His rates are fixed by the Public Utilities Cominission, and he cannot pass along a tax increase to someone else. He is already paying 2.6 cents more per gallon for gas that he did a year ago.
He must bear it himself, and his only recourse, in an effort to break even, is to work longer hours, and longer hours mean possibly more traffic accidents.
In conclusion, I sincerely believe that I can speak for every cab driver in Washington in voicing opposition to the proposed gasoline tax increase.
Mr. Bates. Mr. Keeting, why does he pay today 2.3 cents more a gallon than he did a year ago?
Mr. KEETING. It is 2.6; gas has gone up that much in a year.
Mr. KEETING. That is what it was, 2.6 in the last year from the oil companies. Mr. Bates. In the last year. Thank you, Mr. Keeting.
Mr. KEETING. Each of these boys was selected to represent a different class of driver, such as those with large families, and those with none, and those who own their own cab and those who rent their cbs.
Mr. BATES. Yes.
Mr. KEETING. Mr. Saunders; Walter Saunders. I think Walter has quite a large family, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF WALTER A. SAUNDERS, ARLINGTON, VA. Mr. SAUNDERS. Mr. Chairman, my name is Walter A. Saunders, and I am a driver of a Yellow Cab.
Mr. BATEs. Sit right down and be perfectly at ease here.
Mr. SAUNDERS. I am a driver-owner of a Yellow Cab. Increased gas tax would hurt large-family men. During the war years, even with gasoline restrictions, cab business was good enough so that by the time I had used up my gasoline allotment for the day, I was able to make a comfortable living for my family, and was even able to save something for the purchase of war bonds.
Today, cab business has fallen off very much, while competition has correspondingly increased. Therefore, in order to support my wife and eight children, it is necessary to put in longer and longer hours.
Working longer hours, and using less time for personal affairs, I, therefore, use more gasoline than those who have only themselves or a small family to support.
Thus, I already pay more taxes than they do, and an increase at this time would hit me and those others with large families much harder than the ones who have no children and, in many cases, whose wives are employed and help with the family budget.
Therefore, it seems to me that, so far as cab drivers are concerned. the proposed increased gasoline tax would penalize the men with large families.
I would like to add, Mr. Chairman, that I usually work from 10 to 12 hours a day. I use approximately 14 gallons of gas a day.
Mr. Bares. Of course, with eight children, I do not blame you. Incidentally, I had nine myself—my wife did—so we have something in common in that respect.
Mr. SAUNDERS. I might add, sir, we have had 10; we expect the eleventh one in a month or so. So you can see I have to work pretty long days every day.
I usually worked 7 days a week, but I figure here I use 14 gallons a day, and I only figured it at the rate of 6 days a week, so, I figure that I use approximately 4,300 gallons of gasoline a year in a year's time.
Mr. Bates. Now, let me ask you this question. What would you say the cut in the receipts to the cab driver has been, say, during the lush season of the war period, and what you now receive today—25 percent off, 10 percent off, or what?
Mr. SAUNDERS. I would say that it has almost been cut in half.
Mr. BATES. Cut in half?
Mr. BATES. Let me go further; let us take the average cab driver, and let us assume that he drives 10 hours a day. What would he consider to be a good day's receipts today-gross receipts?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Well, in my particular case, I have to work harder and steadier; I mean, I do not have any lost motion at all. When I start out in the the morning I am in continuous motion right on through except to stop and eat once, and I find I can usually clear, usually net, about eight or nine dollars a day.
Mr. Bates. Now, what are your expenses? That is net?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Well, I can gross around—well, between 13 and 14 dollars.
Mr. BATES. And then of that, say, that $13, what are your expenses? You own your cab?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Yes, sir; I own my cab, and my expenses are around $5 a day.
Mr. BATES. $5 a day?
Mr. SAUNDERS. And right now, I am using a quart of oil every day, and that is 25 cents; and the rest of it is for maintenance, repairs, tires.
Mr. BATEs. The average is spread over the year.
Mr. BATEs. But $5 a day; and so it takes you about 10 or 12 hours a day for you to net $8 a day?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Yes, sir.
Mr. SAUNDERS. That is right; and I have to drive an old taxicab. I have a '40, and it has a great deal of miles on it, and I could not begin to afford to buy a new car like I should do; the cab is pretty well worn out.
Mr. BATES. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF SALVITORE BUCOLO, WASHINGTON, D. C. Mr. Bucolo. Honorable Chairman, taxi drivers are opposed to the proposed tax increase of 1 cent per gallon on gasoline.
Drivers are concerned with the condition of city streets not only because of the scenic beauty of our capital city, but also because of the effect bumpy roads have on their cabs.
They earn their money the hard way, but it is like every other job or profession: The go-getters get ahead and the lazy ones stay behind.
Many have been in the cab business for years and, to these, it is their life work. They have nothing else to which to turn. The percentage both of old-timers and newcomers with service records is high.