Saturday, April 19, 2008

Latest on DC Meters from the Post

The deadline to install meters in DC cabs is May 1. But most drivers aren't even close to that. Many are waiting on a court case ruling on the whole meters decision (that might come next week if all are lucky). In the meantime, companies that make meters aren't producing them because they don't know if there will be a market. And drivers aren't installing them. Well most aren't. Some are going ahead. Here are a few bits from today's WaPo:

Confusion marks every step of the attempt at the historic change. Most cabdrivers have balked at paying the estimated $350 for a meter until the court challenge is decided. Without a guarantee of paying customers, the three approved meter manufacturers are holding up shipping thousands of meters to the District. Some meter installers became licensed to do business only yesterday afternoon.

Everyone has been awaiting the outcome of the lawsuit filed last month by the D.C. Coalition of Cabdrivers, Companies and Associations, a group opposed to the change. The coalition argued in a March 27 hearing that Fenty (D) had exceeded his authority by ordering the switch from zones to meters. . . .

"The May 1 deadline still stands," D.C. Taxicab Commission Chairman Leon J. Swain Jr. said yesterday. On that date, a cab without a meter "will not be considered a D.C. taxicab," he said. Drivers are subject to a $1,000 fine every time they drive an unmetered cab.

Swain said there are just six licensed installers, at least some of which are cab companies, and they will have to operate "24 hours a day, seven days a week" to meet the deadline.

Acting Attorney General Peter Nickles said yesterday that the District "will not be unreasonable" if the judge's ruling comes "late in the game." He declined to speculate on extending the deadline. . . .

Pulsar, a meter company on Long Island, N.Y., likewise has shipped some orders to the District but is awaiting news from the court before shipping massive orders, an employee there said.

Meter installers, in the meantime, are gearing up.

Mushtaq Gilani, owner of Icon Cab, which has about 20 vehicles, has yet to install one device, he said, because his shipment has not arrived from the manufacturer. He hopes to begin this weekend.

"What I tell people is, 'You know the meters are coming, if not today, then tomorrow,' " he said. "I say, get ready for it and then whatever happens, you can go from there."


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