Thursday, October 18, 2007

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."


At 9:45 AM, Blogger Paradise Driver said...

You'll find few drivers willing to sit in a traffic jam. While the meter may click out X amount every minute, thats just a drop in the bucket to what a driver will make when the meter is clicking over miles. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

I think DC cabbies are more upset that they won't be able to combine rides like they do now. One outbound run with shifting passengers and destinations must really be profitable but that will end.

My 2-cents


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