Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Trick, No Treat

So, some of DC's cabbies have decided to strike on Halloween. This isn't exactly a unified group, so it's hard to say just how much of a strike this will be, but am looking forward to seeing what transpires tomorrow.

The strike, reported by the Washington Post, is to be from 6am tomorrow morning to 6am the following morning. That means that a lot of ghosts and goblins may be having to find their own ways home tomorrow night.

Then again, with Halloween during the week, those ghosts & goblins may not be looking for rides until Saturday night?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Taxi with a Capital T? Or a Little Flower Power?

So there's a new design for the NYC cabs.

And more than just the large circled T in taxi, there are some that have been given a retro 60s look. New Yorkers are apparently abuzz with venom (too much of a mixed metaphor?) about the new look. The NY Times offered readers a chance to come up with their own design.

I can't resist sharing a couple of fun ones from the site.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kudos to Super Cab #333

Well, while Susan continues to share horror stories of life riding in (or, in her case, trying to ride in) DC cabs, I want to share a kudo to Super Cab #333.

Other cab drivers - look to Super Cab #333 carefully. This is what a cab should be. Clean, nice, lots of room in the back seat. Smooth ride, nice driver, just a wonderful experience all around.

Monday, October 22, 2007

NY Cabbies on Strike - Again

The cabbies are striking again to "protest against new additions to their cabs that let customers watch TV and pay with credit cards, as well as allowing drivers' employers to track them with GPS. City officials say the devices help passengers by making payments more convenient and lost items easier to locate. But the Taxi Workers Alliance said they called the strike — the second in six weeks — because the technology is a costly invasion of cabbies' privacy and works erratically at best."

The rest of the story on AP here.

I'm confused. According to the story, passengers can find cabs, but "Payment was unusually complicated, however: passengers had to pay $10, plus $5 for each new "zone" they passed through in the city. Manhattan was divided into four zones, and each of the outer boroughs counted as another." So does that mean that as the DC cabs go from zones to meters, the NYC cabs are adding zones to their meters? It's all so confusing!

So the NYC cabbies have gone on strike twice, and the DC cabbies are threatening to strike because of the meters. So I ask the drivers who read this blog -- why aren't YOU striking? :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I've been asking every cab driver I've seen lately what he thinks about meters (and they're all he's. I've run into only 2 women cab drivers in my life - another blog for another time). The Post reports that cabbies will be striking because they don't want the meters. But my very informal and unscientific survey finds a number of drivers who think meters will be a good idea. I asked one if he was pro-meter because he'd be taking people from National Airport to downtown DC through Anacostia. But he assured me that he was pro meter simply because it's such a problem with tourists. Even when they're being charged correctly, they assume they're being ripped off because there's no meter.

On the other hand, I had one driver who was so mad about meters that I thought he was going to turn around and throw ME out of the cab! He was gesturing wildly in his rant against cabs - and thankfully the traffic wasn't too challenging - so we survived the trip!

And me? I'm a zone meter vet - I'm fine with zones. I understand them. Meters probably will save me money going from work to clients' offices. But meters are going to put cabs out of the reach of a lot of people who use them now to travel long distances in areas with little metro or bus access. You know, the poor.

More for Susan

Wag of the finger of shame to Dove Cab #4 and Federal Cab #48 for refusing to pick up Susan. If I were her, I'd be reporting both of you to the commission. And at some point when I get tired of hearing about cabs passing her by, I might just start reporting you for her anyhow!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Meters Won't Help Susan

If there is one person in DC who seems to have nothing but bad luck with cabs, it's my friend Susan. I've told her several times that she should be a co-contributor to this blog, but she won't do it. She does keep me up to date on her run of bad cab luck.

Last night - trying to get a cab to go home (for those who are joining this story in progress, Susan has very bad knees and can't go up & down bus stairs, and metro doesn't go to her house), she had two cabs pass her by without stopping, then no cabs for 10 minutes or so, then three cabs coming in a row. She knew her luck had changed! The first cab sped by without stopping (there was a passenger in it). The second cab sped by without stopping (no passenger), but the third cab stopped! There were three passengers. The door opened and one passenger got out. The other two stayed and the cab sped off.

Apparently she did finally get a cab a few minutes later - but only Susan could have three cabs in a row go by without stopping for her.

Meters are Coming

Our Mayor has decided to go with Senator Levin's rule (a whole other topic is my personal distaste for senators & representatives from outside DC who think it's their job to make laws for people who LIVE in DC), and bring meters to dc cabs.

No timetable or fare info yet - that is to come. Part of the story below:

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced yesterday that he will require time-and-distance meters in the District's 6,000 taxicabs, abandoning a rare zone system that has been used for decades and heralding major changes in the way the local taxi industry operates.

No timetable was set for the switch, and it was uncertain whose wallets will benefit most. That depends, a study showed, on the length of the trip. A meter system tends to favor the customer on shorter trips and the driver on longer ones.

It remained unclear how much the meters will cost the taxi industry to buy and install. Under the executive order Fenty signed yesterday, the mayor's office and the chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission are supposed to devise a plan for the change as quickly as possible. Sources with the mayor and the commission said officials hoped to have meters running by spring.

The zone system has been treasured by many drivers, who reacted to yesterday's news with outrage. They warned of a strike within two weeks and vowed to lobby to have the decision reversed. . . .

In making his decision, Fenty said he was heavily influenced by an August survey of 611 D.C. residents, conducted by Zogby International for the taxi commission. According to the survey, 53 percent of cab riders find the zones difficult to use, up 12 percentage points from a survey in 1994, a fact that Fenty said he found "instructive." He also cited other findings: 69 percent wanted a visible fare; 73 percent thought that meters would make overcharging less likely; 68 percent wanted a clearer relationship between the fare and time and distance traveled. . . .

Some cabdrivers warned that the dispute is not over.

"Get ready for the strike, the big strike," said William Wright of the Taxicab Industry Group, one of several groups representing drivers. "We want him to reconsider."

Wright added: "We're going to find a way to get this overturned. If we have to go to every single member of the Senate and the House, we're going to do that."

The vast majority of the District's cabdrivers are independent contractors, and many fear the loss of the zone system will lead to a loss of independence. They point to other large cities, where the industry is run by a few large corporations. Many are disappointed that Fenty did not choose a much-talked-about hybrid system that would preserve zones and furnish receipts, using the Global Positioning System. . . .

Sherman Basil, a driver for almost 50 years, said Fenty made the wrong decision.

"With meters, you can do whatever you want," he said. "You can ride them all over the place. You can get in traffic jams."

Some cab riders provided a somewhat mixed reaction.

Rita Salamone, who lives in Southwest Washington, said the zone system seems more fair. "If you're just sitting, the meters just tick away," she said.

But Heather Alman of Cleveland Park said she has been charged several different fares to go from Foggy Bottom to Tenleytown, a common complaint.

"I don't like the zoning system," she said. "The maps are really hard to read. You're fully in the hands of the drivers and you have to trust them."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Best & Worst DC Cab Companies

Got an opinion? Share it in the polls to the right. One poll for the best DC cab company and one for the worst.

No, not all DC cab companies are listed - just a couple of the bigger ones and ones that I notice more than others.

And it is just DC cabs, so those who want to vote on best or worst of Maryland or Virginia cabs - that's gonna have to be another blog :).

If you want to vent about one of the companies you voted for - or share a good experience, please do.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shame on You - Presidential Cab 216

Shame on you for driving right by my friend Susan tonight. You let a passenger out of your cab, and drove nice and slow by Susan standing with arm extended only a few feet in front of you. Since you could not have missed seeing her - is there a reason you decided to just drive right by?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Meter vs. Zone - in the news again

The Post's article today focuses on the Ethiopian cabbies' reaction. While nobody knows if cabbies would be making more or less under meters (short rides no, long rides yes - but how it comes out in the wash is anybody's guess).

One of the fears that I hadn't even thought about is the fear of regulation - and where it might lead. This seems to me a bit, well over the top, but heck, who knows.

The concern about meters might seem an overreaction. But many see meters as the ultimate regulatory tool, the first in a series of bureaucratic demands that would strip them of their autonomy. Like many small-business owners, the drivers prefer less government meddling. They wonder, what's next? Limited work hours or caps on taxi licenses?

The vast majority of the city's 7,500 taxi drivers are independent contractors.

"This is the only place in the nation where you can really be an independent cabdriver," said Aklile Redie, Ethiopian-born vice president of the D.C. Professional Taxi Drivers Association.