Thursday, May 01, 2008

Meter Day

More or less. Today is the day cabs are supposed to have meters, but there is a month-long grace period where they will receive warnings for not having them.

Rode in 2 cabs today and neither had a meter. No surprise. Of the 7,000 or so cabs in the city, I've seen reports estimating that not even 1,000 have either gotten meters or have appointments to get them. It's definitely not going to be a quick process to transfer everyone over. Especially for those who were waiting to see if Mayor Fenty was going to be overruled.

Riders - if you get a metered cab, let us know. I will post when I get my first metered cab ride in DC.


At 7:32 AM, Blogger Philip said...

I worked my usual three hour day Thrusday (had something to do Friday) and eight hour Saturday. I usually work only six hours Saturday, but I could not get home.

The bottom line appears to be about the same, so far. The fares seem to run all over the field, some more, some less, as well as the degree of variance. The traffic really does make a difference.

To-day will should render a better hint of things to come for the drivers, at least.

Friday and Saturday, the cabs were lined up at meter shops, so that left more business for me. Also, the swarms of illegals that are usually on the streets are harder to find. In the case of most illegals, the vehicle is legitimate, but the driver AIN'T--he has no hack licence. Perhaps rumours that it might be 'all hands on deck' for hack inspectors has frightened them off the streets. For the sake of the riding public as well as my sake, I hope that it keeps the illegals from the streets.

I drove a metered cab in Virginia for eighteen months. It has been twenty-five years, but I still do know the meter game. There are some differences that are appearing between suburban and urban meter hacking, but most of the rules and strategies seem to be similar, if not the same.

Most of the drivers are less opposed to the meters, themselves, and more opposed to the baggage that comes with them. The result of the baggage will be that the gubbamint will take this business out of the hands of the owner-operators and put it into the hands of a few who have millions so that they can make more millions. If the public was unhappy with the service before, it will be less happy once the moneyed interests take over.


At 12:49 PM, Blogger Philip said...

There are more cabs than usual out this morning, Sunday, both legitimate drivers and unlicenced. I suspect that this is due to the common knowledge in the business that the Hack Inspectors do not, as a rule, work Sunday.

There was a police car parked in the 1400 block of P St. (Whole Foods Store), N.W. for a good part of the morning. Two officers were out of the car and walking up and down in front of the Whole Foods. Thus, the swarms of cabs that one usually sees in that dodg'em arena were absent. Most of the drivers cruising that block ARE unlicenced.

A new way to spot an illegal is if the top light (cruising light) is on in the day time, but the cab has no meter. This is an attempt at camouflaging the lack of a meter. The illegal hopes that the Hack Inspectors will see the light lit, assume that he has a meter and not stop him and discover that he has no hack licence.

The rules have changed a bit on lights. Now the light is lit if the meter is off. The driver is not permitted to turn off the cruising light with a switch. This means that a cab with the top light lit may not be available.
Look at the signs in the window (OFF DUTY, ON CALL, OUT OF SERVICE). The Commission, of course, has neglected to clean up certain sections of Title 31 (Taxicabs and Vehicles for Hire) so that everything agrees, but to a Progressive Authoritarian such as our mayor (miniscule deliberate), that is not important.

The meters seem to be well received by most of the people whom I have carried. The exceptions seem to be Farther Northeast (Brookland and Michigan Park [where I live]) and East of the Anacostia. Those people are not happy with paying more.

More after this afternoon.

At 8:33 AM, Blogger DC Cab Rider said...

Still haven't ridden in a cab with meters yet. Philip - any idea about a percentage of drivers that are out there with meters vs. those without?

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Andy in PQ said...

Rode in a metered cab on Saturday night. I was so excited about the meters, but then I realized that I don't know the rates yet. We were charged for the extra passenger and a $1 gas surcharge. I thought there were no surcharges now! It ended up being about the same as with the zone system (and I still felt like the driver was cheating me).

At 7:15 PM, Blogger DC Cab Rider said...

Thanks for the post. There has been so much back & forward about the surcharges. I thought that they settled on yes for gas surcharge but no for extra passenger. But honestly I have no idea these days :).

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Philip said...

There are probably fewer than one-thousand cabs out there with meters as of to-day. Many of the drivers are going to wait until the last minute, no doubt, and they are going to be out of luck. One garage has three installers working. It takes one hour to install the meter. If the installers work a ten hour day, that means that they can install only thirty meters in a day.

The following charges can be added to the base fare:

1. Gasolene surcharge: one dollar. This expires 28 May, but I expect that it will be extended. That raises a few questions, but that is the subject of another post.

2. Calling a cab: two dollars.

3. Each additional passenger: one dollar-fifty cents.

4. Baggage: one free per passenger, fifty cents for each one after that.

This list is by no means complete, it contains the charges that most of the riding public will encounter regularly. If you go to the Commission's website, you will find the meter legislation as 'propsed rulemaking'(at least it still was this morning), but it is now permanent. Point and click and you can read it. Fenty did take much of it from us after the first reading, but he did restore some of it to us on the third.

If you read the rulemaking, there is nothing about a rush hour surcharge. Be that as it may, I am in possession of a communique from the mayor's office (minscules deliberate) dated 22 April of this year that states that there is a rush hour surcharge.

I have governed myself by the language of the ordinance, not what the executive's subordinates think that it says. Still, I must wonder: Hey! A Fenty! Did neither you nor your staff read the regulartions that you allegedly wrote? Or was it 'dictated but not read'?

A couple of myths about which the ruding public should disabuse itself:

1. It does not pay the driver to get stuck in traffic. His return is much better if he delivers his customer quickly and moves on to his next customer.

2. Taking the scenic route within the City does not pay, either. See number one. It will pay, from time-to-time (but not always), on trips to the suburbs or Dulles or Friendship Airports, but it will not pay to take the scenic route to National (in the overwhelming majority of cases, that is).

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter if it's a meter or a zone system, people are never happy. They always find a reason to complain about something. A good example "andy in pq," even with a meter he thinks he is getting cheated.

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Curious said...

Question: When do taxicab drivers have to start USING the meters? This morning (May 6th) I got into a cab that had a meter, but the driver said he didn't have to start using it until June 1st. However, he put the meter on so we could see the difference in price. The difference? $5.80 less. My zoned cab fare was $10.80, and the meter charged $6.00. I still had to pay the $10.80 though, according to the driver.

At 7:16 PM, Blogger DC Cab Rider said...

Good question Curious. June 1st is when cabs will be fined for not having a meter ($1000), but it's an extension of the May 1 deadline. If you kept the cab's information, I would certainly report this driver to the commission. I wonder what his story is for trips that cost more by meter than by zone? I'd bet that suddenly he IS using the meter.

At 9:27 PM, Blogger Philip said...

If there is a meter in the cab that has both a seal and a certificate, the driver must use it. If there is no meter, or the meter lacks either a seal of certificate (or both), the driver charges zones.

Under all conditions, as of 0001 1 June, 2008, all District of Columbia licenced cabs must have and use a meter that has a seal and a certificate from the Taxicab Commission.

At 6:00 PM, Anonymous Susan said...

The cab I took home last night had a meter. My $12 zone ride (rush hour) was a $16 ride with the meter. The drivers are going to be doing really well with meters.

At 9:43 PM, Blogger Philip said...

One week into meters, representatives of the Taxicab Commission went around to the meter shops and delivered round stickers with the DC insignia,in red, and 'dctc' in blue speed lettering miniscules. In an outer blue roundel, in white lettering and what appears to be Times New Roman, or similar font, are the words 'CERTIFIED' in all majuscules, and 'Metered Taxi Cab'[sic]in mixed majuscules and miniscules. The shops are placing these on the aft roof pillars on either side of the cab.

Those of us who bought our meters early had to go back to the shop and get stickers. It was not that bad for me, as my regular job is in next door to the meter shop that I used, but for others, who bought early, it shows that NO good deed or right living goes unpunished..........

At 6:52 PM, Blogger DC Cab Rider said...

Philip - did you miss your chance to make tuns of bucks by being the in between guy for drivers & the shop?

Probably wouldn't work like that though I guess.


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