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Taxicab Meters: Yes or No?

D.C. Superior Court Judge Brook Hedge today denied a request by D.C. taxicab drivers for an injunction to block implementation of a meter system. An attorney for the cab drivers said he would take the case to the D.C. Court.

By Marcia Davis  |  April 25, 2008; 11:25 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Taxis  
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Comments

The fact is, District residents would not have come out in such strong support for a metered system if taxi drivers hadn't been over-charging customers. For the taxi drivers to now complain that the system is "unfair" to them is rich. It was unfair to me all the times that taxi drivers charged me fares that could be found nowhere on the fare list or charged me for going through multiple zones when I knew I'd only gone through one.

Posted by: DCRider | April 25, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

HOORAY!!!! I was so sick one time and was on my way to the doctor. I honestly couldn't walk the two blocks from the metro. Strangers were walking up to me trying to help me. This guy helped me to a cab and I had to pay almost $8 because of the one sector $5.60 plus the extra dollar for gas prices and the dollar for rush hour. That was totally ridiculous!!!!

To add more injury, I had to catch a cab home. A ride that literally takes six to eight minutes and I had to pay $17. Just plain crazy!!!!

Posted by: Anita | April 25, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

the only disagrees are from the drivers - I drove in Chicago, there is NO OTHER way. The drivers should exam, what basis do they have - especially looking down the barrel of a gun. Get real and move on. You are going to find a way to make it work for yourself anyway .....

Posted by: paperpusher | April 25, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

The fact is that drivers were overcharging because citizens are too lazy to learn the zones. The zone system is cheaper because you dont have to pay for time sitting in traffic and it can be manipulated, for example, by getting out one block before the destination to save money instead of entering another zone. This is pure laziness on the part of DC residents, period.

Posted by: Aaron | April 25, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Aaron,

how many times were you knifed trying to charge a flat rate? Having experienced that, not that I disagree that the customers don't know the rules, seeing the fare on a meter takes away some of the somecomplaint. And yes, we knew how to work the system

Posted by: paperusher | April 25, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Aaron,

Why should anyone have to learn an arcane system. Poor pricing structure is what that would be called in any other line of work.

They cheated you often. Why should I have to argue with a taxi driver? Once he's overcharged me, I know I'm dealing with a crook who gets his way through intimidation.

The only reason to keep the current system is to "manipulate" it. I can afford a legitimate cab fare, I shouldn't have to manipulate the system. Sorry you'll have to pay your way now.

Posted by: Tim from Silver Spring | April 25, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I hear what you are saying but its hard to take complaints seriosuly when you dont bother to learn the rules.

Posted by: Aaron | April 25, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse


the rules don't count for much when you get slashed because you can't prove the fare

you are providing a "service for customers" - hopefully profitable enough that you make ends meet. I would never drive again on a flat rate system - even if it was a standard charge airport to airport or airport to downtown AND CLEARLY POSTED

Posted by: paperpusher | April 25, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

After 40 years of living here, I am tired of being ripped off by the zone system. I know drivers game the system by taking certain routes, or charging extra for crossing the 14th Street Bridge to get to National Airport. At least with the meters I will have an argument, and get to see the fare I accumulate as we drive.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

It is wrong to blame customers for failing to learn the rules because so many people using the cabs are from other places. Drivers have overcharged my friends who were taking cabs from Union Station to my house; even when I tell them to be aware of this, no one wants to get in a fight over $10. Every visitor to DC should not have to spend their first 10 minutes in town understanding a unique system and analyzing a map to make sure they aren't being swindled.

Posted by: CJMiva | April 25, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Also, Aaron, part of spending a lot of money on a taxi rather than on the bus or metro is the door-to-door service aspect. Walking four blocks to catch a cab on the other side of the zone line, then getting off two blocks short of your destination to save another zone charge is ridiculous.

Plus, you do all that, and your fare is still $10.50 if you ride with two friends in one zone. That sounds like a steal via gaming the system. Yeah right.

Posted by: cha | April 25, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

The influx of primarily young whites into the DC area who were use to meters from where ever they came from seem to think that the zone system to figure out and is more expensive than meters. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You will find out that you will pay much more than the zone system. If the cheaper zone starts across the street then common sense say go across the street and catch the cab.
Long time residents know that if I am going from Georgia and Peabody to the Capitol what the fare will be whether there is a lot of traffic or not but in meter cabs if I got to wait in traffic then that meter gonna continue running whether the cab is moving or not.
In most urban centers and the suburbs taxis are owned by large companies and even corporations not individual drivers who can pull themselves up utilizing American ingenuity and self motivation. So the drivers will bear all the brunt of these changes. My question is how long before we see company come in and overtake the industry with one large taxicab company.

Posted by: images2u | April 25, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Under the zone system the drivers were supposed to record each fare on a daily log. But how many of us ever verfied that our trip was logged? Zero. So it was easy for the drivers to collect fares that they never reported to their cab company or to the IRS. Once meters are installed it will be drastically harder for drivers to do this because customers will expect the meter to be used on every trip and it will be easy for the cab companies and the IRS to audit how many fares a driver had on any given day. I suspect the reduced possibility of skimming is the real reasons drivers hate meters so much.

Posted by: Bunky | April 25, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

DC is a very important city, the availability of cabs should always be appreciated, before you blink there is a cab waiting to serve you, we should not be mad that they are making money. I am expecting that 80% percent of the cab drivers in the city will be out of this business in a matter of a year. and the wait time to get a cab for 5 blocks will be more than half hour.

Posted by: abl00 | April 25, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Is the mayor trying to make DC another New York City? Where are the investigative reporters when you need one? Let's see I think the schools are terrible; let's bring the NYC school model to DC. I don't like the taxicab system; let's get meter cabs like NYC. Instead let's develop a system that will best work for Washington DC. And let that system serve the interest of all the people new residents and long time residents.

Posted by: images2u | April 25, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I am Ok with the meter system. However, I disagree with the mayor being the sole decider on the fare. You don't impose a fare. We are not in a communist country where one man decide a price. The fare should be fair, at least similar to other cities or counties.
Why should it be $1.50 per milage in DC while it is on the average $2.00 everywhere? Gas price up. and cab drivers should live a proper life too.

Posted by: leyat | April 25, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

anita ia mad because she paid $8.00 for few blocks when she was so sick and wanted to go to hospital, how about if you wait for an hour while you are sick and can't find a cab in a city that does not apreciate the cab sevice while they don't mind paying $3000.00 for the same trip by an ambulance.

Posted by: abl00 | April 25, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

I take a cab home from work several times a week during the summer because the metro is closed. Its a short trip that should only cost $9.50. I have only been charged $10 for the ride four times out of well over two hundred cab rides. I'm usually charged $15-$20. So I have to waste time arguing. I consider a good night to be one I don't get cursed at. Its left me bitter and angry.

I stick to my guns because like Aaron I know the zone system well. After 5 minutes and only after demanding a receipt with their cab information on it do I get a fair fare.

I can't wait for the meters. My experience with many drivers has shown them to be liars and cheats. I welcome their comeuppance.

Posted by: Jack | April 25, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I've been a DC resident for almost 2 years now and have had maybe 2 or 3 situaitons where the driver was trying to cheat me. Granted, I made a point of learning the system early on and am not easily intimidated.

The notion that meters will stop dishonest drivers from screwing the public is not based on reality. Sure, the meter clearly tells you the fare but it does not stop the driver from taking a slightly different route to add an extea couple tenths of a mile to bump up the fare.

The mayor should have gone with Yellow Cab's zone meter proposal--best of both worlds.

DC should have gone with

Posted by: Matt | April 25, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

I don't care if meters cost more; I'm willing to a pay a stiff fee to get rid of that nagging feeling that I'm being ripped off.

Posted by: Sam | April 25, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh here come the racist comments "The influx of primarily young whites into the DC area..." If your going to make that charge I can too.. start being fair by not cheating the customers, the City & the Federal Government for a business you don't want to pay taxes on. You don't like it.. fine I'll be racist too and tell you to get back on the boat you came over on.

Posted by: images2u_disputer | April 25, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a cabdriver, and I actually preferred the zone system (and would have liked the zone meter even more, since it shares the time and distance meter's ability to put an end to cabbies' ability to easily cheat on their taxes). But I think that's a factor of how well I know the system and how often I ride.

I haven't had trouble with the fares in over a decade. If anyone tried to sock me with an overcharge, I would firmly tell them what the correct fare is, complete with starting zone and ending zone. It's not hard to do if you put your mind into learning the system; I'm not particularly clever and I learned it easily enough.

And I ride cabs... sometimes. And for someone in the middle like me, who rides often enough to make learning the zone system worthwhile but isn't a heavy user, the zone system makes more sense because it's risk-averse. For example, when I looked at the Post's fare estimator for a ride I sometimes take that costs $8.80 under the zone system, the boldface time and distance meter estimate came in at $8.25 -- but the range of estimated fares was between $7.25 and $12.25. If you ride daily, say, you should care about the averages since over time that's what you'll be paying, and so you should take the time and distance meter. But if your riding habits are closer to mine, you're not getting a large enough sample size to put that much weight on the average estimate. I'm willing to pay 55 cents to not have to choose between, say, winning a dollar four times out of five and losing four dollars on the fifth, since over the short run I'm not necessarily going to break even and I'm not a lucky person.

Posted by: cminus | April 26, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"My question is how long before we see company come in and overtake the industry with one large taxicab company."

That change can't come soon enough. Most cabs in DC are filthy vehicles far beyond the mileage and age limits that nearly any other city would accept.

And many cab drivers in DC have absolutely no knowledge of the city. I'm a bit tired of having to explain to DC cabbies where Union Station or the White House are. They should know these things.

I personally can't wait for big cab companies to come in and bring some decent cabs and more respectful, better-trained drivers.

Posted by: Hillman | April 28, 2008 7:30 AM | Report abuse

"and can't find a cab in a city that does not apreciate the cab sevice while they don't mind paying $3000.00 for the same trip by an ambulance."

A short ambulance ride is $3000? Really?

It's idiotic untruthful statements like that that make the average person lose all sympathy for the cabbie argument on this issue.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 7:32 AM | Report abuse

"Sure, the meter clearly tells you the fare but it does not stop the driver from taking a slightly different route to add an extea couple tenths of a mile to bump up the fare."

Under the new DC taxi regs the customer dictates the route taken. If the cab driver refuses to take you the route you specify, then you simply refuse to pay him.

Posted by: Hillman | April 28, 2008 7:34 AM | Report abuse

The zone system was the worst for short distances. It was $8 minimum for the shortest ride. That is a ridiculous charge for 1/2 mile or mile. Cross a zone, such as going from Dupont Circle to Adams Morgan, even if it's a shorter distance that crossing your entire zone (say Dupont to the capital), that ride is $10.

It was gouging, and all the cabs drove around this one zone--sure, it was easy to get a cab there, but if I were somewhere else in town, such as Cleveland Park late at night, it was much harder to get a cab.

Not sure how this will change things, who can know until we try? But it was time for a change.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 29, 2008 2:01 AM | Report abuse

I feel that Mr. Hillman is hired by an outside cab combany to monopolize the cab business like all other cities in the US.
DC is the last city to fall to taxi monopoly
and I am wondering If Mr. fenty involved in this scheme.
I know that the city residents will not benefit from the monopoly and deep cut in the service.

Posted by: abl00 | April 29, 2008 4:14 AM | Report abuse

You have got to be kidding. Has anyone taken a taxi in NYC? They are metered and CHEAPER. Manhattan has 5 times the traffic and you can get from lower east end to uptown in 15 minutes and under $10. Come on now. This is not to mention now nearly cab in NYC has LCD touchscreens in the back with GPS, TV, and the actual route fair so you can monitor it.

Let me add one more thing - does anyone really think the all unmonitored cash DC cabs have been collecting is fully reported on their taxes? I doubt it. At least we'll more honesty on this front too.

Posted by: Joseph M. Baltrus | April 29, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Cabbies have had plenty of time to save up the $400 for a meter - everybody knew it was coming and there's just no flippin' excuse anymore. It doesn't matter who wants it and who doesn't - it's here. Stop whining. It's over. It's done. Now we all have to learn to live with the new system.

Posted by: My 2 cents | April 29, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

As a friend of a cab driver this is my take. The zone system is not good for the resident since knowing the system only doesn't save you from the bad drivers, who charges more as we have seen from the comments. The meter is as good as the zone for the drivers and as visually clear to the customers. Drivers complains that they will loose, is a lie. The fear of loosing is not even parctical because it is not fully implemented, the new system partially to start the meter begins today on the first witout full inforcment. If drivers complain at a certain rate it is because they bring only half the truth. It is true in some parts of the trip they get lower fare and in other part trip the customers pay more, but at the end of the day it will all balance out even. There will not be scratch my back and I will stab yours.

Posted by: Joseph G. 4 EA | May 1, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

The feasibility on using the zone system or meters in DC taxicabs cannot be responsibly determined by merely asking uninformed respondents,"What do you prefer?"
Before forming an opinion or expressing a judgement on an issue I was taught to always try to first responsibly research and consider the facts of that issue.
My father was a very active DC taxicab driver to supplement his salary as a teacher and despite his warnings I drove a DC taxicab in 1975 as I was finishing my undergraduate studies at American University. As a native Washingtonian I've continued since 1975 to testify before many DC City Council and Taxicab Commission as well as ANC hearings to try and share the little known yet basic elements of fact of this issue with DC residents, taxicab drivers and tourists. (google.com - "Karl Rudder's Blog")
To this very day the news media and all DC politicians(except for John Wilson in 1975) have subserviently served corporate and Capital Hill interests and have yet to ever refer to the initial and still standing government and court decisions that had initially denied the design and use of,"any version of the zone system to replace meters in DC taxicab". (the DC Public Service commission will provide a free copy of PUC order no. 956 issued on 11/6/31) Review my research on google.com under the subject of "Karl Rudder's blog" and you will be respected and referred to the two court decisions that completely upheld PUC order no. 956) Reporters of the news media have refused to respect their readers and responsibly research and "report" on the facts of this issue for 75 years! Why?
The real irony of this entire issue is that Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Fenty, Council members Graham, Cheh, Orange and many other previous and current DC City Council members and Mr. O'Toole the attorney representing the DC Taxicab Drivers Assoc. are either graduates of law school or dare refer to themselves as Professors of Law yet they all have refused to ever express the results of their training and at least one of them openly and responsibly expose the results of their researching the origin of the DC taxicab zone system fare structure!
Everyone knows about a Senator getting arrested for trying to pick up an undercover police officer and other sex scandals. The news media and national and local politicians have insulted American citizens by making sure everyone knows about how they addressed the issue of Monica Lewinsky and countless other issues yet after 75 years how many have ever been informed on how Congress used the insulting DC Appropriations Act to ignore the initial gov't and court decisions and completely screw up the DC taxicab industry over 75 years ago!("The Taxicab Rider" Washington Post editorial 11/13/71 -odd referral to only the tricky legislation composed by Sen. Cannon in 1934 yet not the slightest mention of the two court decisions that completely upheld PUC order no. 956 - Do you call that "reporting" on this issue?)
The Truth can been hidden but it will not change!

Posted by: Karl Rudder | May 12, 2008 12:14 AM | Report abuse

The feasibility on using the zone system or meters in DC taxicabs cannot be responsibly determined by merely asking uninformed respondents,"What do you prefer?"
Before forming an opinion or expressing a judgement on an issue I was taught to always try to first responsibly research and consider the facts of that issue.
My father was a very active DC taxicab driver to supplement his salary as a teacher and despite his warnings I drove a DC taxicab in 1975 as I was finishing my undergraduate studies at American University. As a native Washingtonian I've continued since 1975 to testify before many DC City Council and Taxicab Commission as well as ANC hearings to try and share the little known yet basic elements of fact of this issue with DC residents, taxicab drivers and tourists. (google.com - "Karl Rudder's Blog")
To this very day the news media and all DC politicians(except for John Wilson in 1975) have subserviently served corporate and Capital Hill interests and have yet to ever refer to the initial and still standing government and court decisions that had initially denied the design and use of,"any version of the zone system to replace meters in DC taxicab". (the DC Public Service commission will provide a free copy of PUC order no. 956 issued on 11/6/31) Review my research on google.com under the subject of "Karl Rudder's blog" and you will be respected and referred to the two court decisions that completely upheld PUC order no. 956) Reporters of the news media have refused to respect their readers and responsibly research and "report" on the facts of this issue for 75 years! Why?
The real irony of this entire issue is that Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Fenty, Council members Graham, Cheh, Orange and many other previous and current DC City Council members and Mr. O'Toole the attorney representing the DC Taxicab Drivers Assoc. are either graduates of law school or dare refer to themselves as Professors of Law yet they all have refused to ever express the results of their training and at least one of them openly and responsibly expose the results of their researching the origin of the DC taxicab zone system fare structure!
Everyone knows about a Senator getting arrested for trying to pick up an undercover police officer and other sex scandals. The news media and national and local politicians have insulted American citizens by making sure everyone knows about how they addressed the issue of Monica Lewinsky and countless other issues yet after 75 years how many have ever been informed on how Congress used the insulting DC Appropriations Act to ignore the initial gov't and court decisions and completely screw up the DC taxicab industry over 75 years ago!("The Taxicab Rider" Washington Post editorial 11/13/71 -odd referral to only the tricky legislation composed by Sen. Cannon in 1934 yet not the slightest mention of the two court decisions that completely upheld PUC order no. 956 - Do you call that "reporting" on this issue?)
The Truth can been hidden but it will not change!

Posted by: Karl Rudder | May 12, 2008 12:14 AM | Report abuse

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