Zone vs. Meters - Take 2
I see most of our driver bloggers chose meters. I have asked lots of cab drivers in DC that question over the years, and most of them say they prefer zones. Some give a reason that they can pick up multiple passengers going to different destinations in one run. One said that he figured if the cab commission was investigating adding meters to DC cabs it was automatically a bad thing (not a great fan of the commission) so he'd chose zones.
As a passenger, I'm torn. On days when I'm just going a few blocks in a rush to get something done, then it's annoying paying $6.50. On the other hand, I was stuck in traffic behind an accident a couple of weeks ago and it turned what is usually a 15 min. trip into a 30 minute one.
If I was a tourist, I'd probably hate the zone system, because without understanding where the zones begin/end, I'd be at the mercy of the drivers.
Zones vs. Meters
Probably nobody except DCTaxi Driver gets this one -- but I'm throwing it out there anyhow. Short info - in DC, taxis don't use meters. They operate on a zone system. Areas of the city are divided by zones, downtown area zone 1 ($6.50 to go anywhere in that zone). So a ride of 2 blocks and a ride of 20 blocks downtown costs the same.
Further out are zones 2, 3, and so forth. For me, work-home is 3 zones ($11, $12 during rush hour). So if it takes 10 minutes or 1 hour to get from work to home, the charge is the same.
So drivers -- in your areas, if you had the choice between a zone system like this? Or meters?
Stopping & the Law (or not)
Tonight I flagged a cab. He stopped and rolled down the window to ask where I was going. I said Adams Morgan and he waved me in. I couldn't resist asking, so what, you're avoiding an area? He said, Wisconsin Avenue & Connecticut at Van Ness had bad traffic and he didn't want to go there. I couldn't help wondering what if that is where I wanted to go -- he would have said no and driven off before I got in the cab.
That is illegal. I think. I broached that concept to him gently, and he got very terse and went on and on about time is gas is money is ... which I understand. But also the law is the law.
or not ;)
Calling Cab 111
I don't know who drives cab #111 (and I didn't pay attention to company, it was diamond or yellow). Anyhow, was riding in a cab some nights back and the driver left the radio on loud enough for me to hear, which was an interesting exchange. The dispatcher was getting really PO'd at whoever was driving one-eleven. Since we can only hear the dispatcher's side of the conversation, it went something like this (to my best memory):
"No, not you one-eleven, this is not your fare. I told you that."
"One-eleven, stay out of that.
"One-eleven, I'm not going to talk to you anymore until you straighten up."
"No, it's one-eleven, he thinks I'm listening to him."
Some more comments, to other drivers about addresses and pick ups for a couple of minutes, then
"One-eleven won't shut up."
"Call the owner one-eleven, he'll tell you the same thing."
"No, that's the right address, ignore one-eleven."
"One-eleven, you're not getting any more fares tonight, turn off your radio."
"One-eleven just won't shut up."
Then he goes back to talking to other drivers. I think that was the last I heard of cab one-eleven that night.
Adventures in Riding - India
Many years ago my parents & I were visiting India. I remember the cab ride we took in Bombay to get to the airport. We had a very early morning flight, so we needed a cab to get us there in time. It was before dawn. The driver was speeding through the city streets, and we were practically the only vehicle of any kind on the streets. What made it so odd & memorable is that the driver kept honking his horn the whole trip. It wasn't to make people or vehicles get out of the way, nothing was in our way. We ended up deciding that it must be a rule that a cab driver there has to honk his horn every 1-2 minutes to make sure it's working.
Dang this makes me mad. Tried to find a cab for 10 minutes on a downtown DC street, needed to go only a couple of miles, but metro and buses were far away & I was in a rush. Cab finally stops, the guy only rolls down his window and asks for the address. When I give it, he shakes his head and speeds off, only to pick up a woman and guy half a block down.
Too pissed off to get his license or cab company (black cab). But really man, I wasn't asking to go into a horrible section of the city, or one really far away. Whatever the problem was. If you're going to screen passengers, I guess make sure you get a dope like me who doesn't write down your info.
Kudos for Cabbies
When I started this blog, I thought it would be nice to give a shout out to some of the good cabbies I encountered from time to time. I didn't really get that part of it started, but would like to.
So kudos to Washingtonian cabbie Roger Butler, who was genial, playing jazz on the radio, but not too loudly, and who greeted my address (and a long run) with a smile. It was a pleasure riding in your cab sir.
The Perfect Rider - The Perfect Driver
My perfect taxi driver -- some things depend on the time of day. (In the morning, it's the person who doesn't talk to me, since I'm barely awake, but plays NPR so I can still hear what's going on in the world if I want to. Other times, it's someone who is happy or smiles, laughs at traffic or the world or shares an interesting or amusing story).
Day or night, it's the guy who doesn't open the door to spit on the street when we stop at a light. Or constantly blows the horn at other cars. Or randomly yells at other drivers. Or complains excessively (the whole trip) about high gas prices, the war or Bush (I probably agree, but after the first 10 mintutes I begin to feel trapped in a lecture hall I can't escape). Most of all, my perfect driver doesn't give me grief about where I need to go.
So that's my perfect driver (and I get a lot of them, the bad examples I'm pleased to say are not that common).
What's the perfect rider?
Cab For a Day
Do the drivers out there often (ever) get offers from tourists who would like to just have a car & driver for the day to take them around town?
When There Was Always a Cab When I Never Wanted One
I lived near the 7-11 on Columbia Road for several years. It was at a time when I was too poor to afford metro and buses, let alone cabs. I walked pretty much everywhere, except when I had to go to the airport, then I inflicted myself on friends. Well the 7-11 triangle area up there was cabbie heaven. Always several hanging out there or driving by.
One time, I had my suitcases and had taken them with me to meet my friend out on Columbia Rd. She was running late, and I thought it would be faster to meet her there. So there I am on Columbia Rd. with two suitcases and a cab stopping for me every few seconds. Not just going by, but actually stopping. One guy hopped out and headed for my luggage, while I was madly shaking my head and standing in front of it.
For the 15 minutes it took my friend to get there, I was the most popular person on the planet, at least in cab world. It started to freak me out so much at one point I considered dragging the suitcases back to my place and missing the flight LOL. Yes, can laugh about it now. Was pretty freaky at the time.
Some years back, when I lived in Adams Morgan, we had one of those giant snowstorms we have once every decade or so. It was back in the days when I was poor so I rarely got anywhere near the inside of a cab. I was walking up past the Hinkley Hilton on Conn., and there was a cab that was trying to go up Columbia, but stuck in the snow and going nowhere fast.
A another woman who was walking along and I got behind the cab and helped push it out of the snow it was stuck in. Once we got him a little more up the road, he stopped the cab and offered us a ride. The other woman was heading downtown, and I laughed and said I only lived two blocks away. He kept insisting, so I got in and had a free ride for two blocks. I think that was the only cab ride I had that whole year.
Do Taxi Drivers Ride in Taxis?
To the drivers out there. When you're visiting another town, or for whatever reason, do you ever take cabs? And if so, what's your reaction to how the cabbie operates? Are you a perfect passenger? Do you swap tales of bizarre passengers and woe? Do you complain if he/she does something wrong?
I know that security is a major issue for drivers. There certainly have been far too many reports I've noticed in my years in DC of drivers being robbed, hurt and even killed. I know here there are a few different ways cabbies have used to try and make their situation better. Two of them are more, I guess what I'd call passive. Having a 911 / call police alert light on the top of the cab that the drive can switch on in case of need. And having a camera mounted in the front that photographs the passengers.
The other, which is more common in NYC for sure, is the large partition that separates driver from passenger. I don't know which, if any, are the best, but I do know that the large partition has been problematic for my friends & I once. We hailed a cab that had one, and my friend who is 6"+ couldn't sit in the back, his legs wouldn't fit since the partition takes up the leg room. The driver just had him come sit up front, which was fine for us, but not something I'm sure any driver would want to do on a regular basis, since that defeats the purpose of the thing.