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Meters or Zones Today?

Yesterday, after attending the Capitol Hill hearing on the city's federal budget allocation, I jumped in a taxi to head back to the office. I noticed the car did not have a time and distance meter on its dashboard, so I asked the driver if he would have one by today.

"June 1," he replied nonchalantly. Although today is supposed to be the day cabbies start using the time and distance meters, this driver spoke what most seem to believe: that the true deadline is June 1, when Mayor Adrian M. Fenty will begin imposing the $1,000 fines for those caught without meters. Until then, regulators are simply issuing warnings.

If you take a taxi today, we'd like to hear about your experience in the comments section or by email--did you get a time/distance fare or a zone fare?

By David A Nakamura  |  May 1, 2008; 12:57 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Taxis , David Nakamura  
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Yesterday, I was in a taxi that had a meter. I asked about the meters starting today and he said "no, not til June." I told him he was wrong and then he argued with me about it (not to mention that he overcharged me for my fare). So what happens if passengers are in cab with a meter but the driver refuses to use the meter for the next 31 days?

Posted by: rs | May 1, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm paying only what I calculate to be a meter fare based on Post calculator. If the cabbie fights it and wants a zone fare, I recommend flagging down a police officer. I remember sharing a cab with a DC Councilmember once and the cabbie tried to charge us for an extra zone. The DC Councilmember flagged down a police officer -- that cabbie learned a lesson that day!!!!

Posted by: Dupont | May 1, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Don't get into cabs that don't have meters; get out of cabs that have meters but won't turn them on.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 1, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

At 8 a.m. today, I got in a cab that had what appeared to be the mounting plate and wiring for a meter installed on its dashboard but no meter.
If I was right, that's an amazingly cynical scam. I was in too much of a hurry to argue with the guy and risk having to find another cab.

Posted by: Jeffrey | May 1, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

My cab driver told me to go to . I'm glad he did because now it all makes sense.

Posted by: Riddle me this | May 1, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

As a cab driver myself, I am amazed to find that the degree of hate community in the district manifesting to us. As educator and good communicator which I aquired through times in the industry, I reach to the point where to say residences and other commuters who held cab for their personal or business case apparently want us to live in their descretion. I believe as every business indivitual, I believe we also acquire the GOD given right to excerise help us benefit our right to live the American way. As each and everyone of us do, we fought to keep the zone system in act because we believed that way we keep our daily income intact so that we survive from these sorring gas and the hike of living expense. The mayor won and it is time to go live life. We disputed the mayoral decision to change the 60+ years old faring system and we failed. So, what is wrong with that? I think we all have to leave that behind us and go live.

Posted by: tilva | May 1, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

I can't beleive the hatred that has been spoken about the cabbies, hey sure some of them cheat i've almost been the victem of one until i discovered it was a P.G Cab working illegally in DC. But i'm not so NARROW MINDED that i'm going to group all of them in the same basket because one driver tried to rip me off. There's dishonest people in every industry.

I took two cabs today, one had the meter the other did not, the metered cab was a little less than normal it seems like the cabbies are getting the short in of the stick on this one.

But unlike most of the nagative comments i've read, i on the other hand have been save many of times by DC's finest running late for meetings, So i would like to say KEEP FIGHTING CABBIES FOR FARE RATES YOU DESERVE IT!!!!!!!!

Posted by: DailyRider | May 2, 2008 1:37 AM | Report abuse

The reason people have a lingering well of resentment against cabbies is that they have been taking advantage of people for as long as anyone living in DC now can remember.

Customers in general hated the zone system, and many had lurking suspiscions they were getting ripped off. Now that cabbies are refusing to install meters until June 1, thereby breaking the law, we have the proof that all they want to do is steal customers' money, not follow the law.

Cabbies who are crooks give all a bad name -- that's just life. If the cabbies don't like that, they should clean up their acts, not whine about how they are misunderstood!

Posted by: DC Guy | May 2, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I was picked up yesterday morning at Columbia and 20th by a cab that did not have a meter installed. When I asked the driver why he did not have a meter, he pointed to the dashboard, where he had the hook up for the meter and then delivered the "the deadline is June 1" line, even pointing to a small calendar that he posted on his dashboard. (What, to remind him to install the meter?) He got defensive and told me to call the taxi commission, although I wasn't pressing the point. I knew he was screwing me over (the zoned fare -- 2 zones because of the U Street boundary -- was higher than the metered fare should have been), so I just didn't tip him. I think I'll be taking the Metro more often these days.

Posted by: Alison Byrne Fields | May 3, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

We've waited this long, whats 3 1/2 more weeks? Give them a month to accept it, because they wont be able to use the "I didnt know excuse" when June 1 does come around and they start getting fines. I agree they SHOULD follow the law and get the meters installed already, but if they know they are not getting fined until June 1, what is their incentive? Anyone who says "because its the law" is naive and probably steals their cable, or their music, or cheats on their taxes, or is named Roger Clemens.

Posted by: joe | May 7, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Saturday night I took a cab without a meter, I complained about how much he was ripping me off the entire ride and told him he's going straight to hell when he dropped me off!

Posted by: Brian | May 7, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Early Saturday morning I took a cab from Dupont circle to Columbia Heights--which should be about $9 under the meter rates--and gave my non-meter-having cabbie $11. He yelled after me that the fare was $11.50 (would've been $11.30 under zones) and screamed until I gave him another dollar. ANOTHER DOLLAR. This is why there is so much ill will. Lying and screaming do not become adults.

Posted by: Scott | May 7, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I obviously haven't been taking the same cabs the folks on this list have been taking but I'd like to give them some piece of advice - meter or no meter...WRITE THE CAB DRIVER'S LICENSE NUMBER DOWN. By law, their "face" (DC Hacking License) is supposed to be clear and visible at all times. If you feel you have been cheated, disrespected, or anything else, write the Cab Driver's name down and complain to DCTC, or the Mayor's Office, or the Cab Company represented. Whining about how you've been cheated (on a Washington Post blog) is highly ineffective and won't get you even close to the justice you wish for if you go through proper channels.

Yes, there is indeed hate for the industry, and for cabs drivers in general. Some are quick to call them cheats, yet they would spend 10 times the amount of a fare for concessions at a ball game.

One final note, yes the meters must be implemented by June 1st. However, most don't realize how the City bungled even that. The manufacturers of the meters are either out of stock or have discontinued initial models that are for use. Reason being, although the Mayor declared that "thou shalt have meters in all taxicabs" he never realized that the folks responsible for the implementation plan didn't know how to do this. Something basic like how the meters were to be installed, who would install them, and basic stuff like "what are the recommended meters to use" wasn't released until late March, for the initial April deadline. Yet, when a basic consumer gets in a cab all they sense is a defiant attitude about it. One other final thing of history, Cab Companies didn't invent the Zone System exclusively. CONGRESS supported and thrived in it, hence why traveling within the ever expanding Capitol Hill was the least expensive of all traveling routes.

Posted by: Q | May 14, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I got in a cab on 5/16 and noticed that it did not have a meter. I told the driver that I was calculating the fare based on what the metered rate should be. He didn't say anything. When we arrived at my destination I told him that the fare was $7.25. Unfortunately, I only had a $20. He gave me $9 back, told me the fare was $11.30 (based on zones) and demanded I give him $.30. I flagged down a cop who refused to do anything because this driver had already received his warning on May 2. Nothing the driver did shocked me; however, the cop was extremely rude to me and told me the driver hadn't done anything wrong. Unbelievable!

Posted by: lcg | May 20, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

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