Thursday, October 18, 2007

Taxi fares that makes sense?!

Could it be? According to the Washington Post this morning, Mayor Fenty actually stepped up to the plate and again failed to dissapoint when he ordered all DC taxicabs to install meters yesterday. Other than rendering El Greg's work on a google map reflecting these districts (below) now obsolete, I have no reservations.

DC Taxi Zone Google Map

I mean, look at that mess? Who in their right mind would appreciate that?

According to the Washington Post articles, a recent study found that a metered system will be cheaper than the zone system for short trips, while the zone systems is cheaper for long hauls. Council member Marion Barry has tried to argue that therefore poorer DC residents living east of the Anacostia will have expensive trips to the far Northwest. Excuse me? Why would they be taking a cab that distance, when transit goes there?

I'll admit that I live downtown in Zone 1, and generally have to avoid cabs because they are far too expensive for the short trips that one usually uses a cab for. In addition, they add additional charges per passenger, unlike in NYC and other major cities, so there is no real benefit to cabbing when with friends. I'm skinny cause I walk 20 minutes to go out and come home almost every time I socialize.

But what Barry and others fail to recognize is that fraud by cab drivers does indeed exist. Beyond the oft-debated issue of whether or not cabbies are quoting the right price (and the need for residents to try and game the system, getting dropped off a block early to avoid crossing over a border, such as U Street), there are more flagrant issues I have not yet seen discussed. When I used to live in Silver Spring, a cab from U Street was impossible. That is a long trip but only a few zones--so few cabs were willing to take me. After several left me standing on the curb, I would have to board first and then state my destination, refusing to leave until they took me.

In addition, just last week I shared a cab with a friend, passing by my home on its way to hers. Under the Taxicab Commission rules, it is at the discretion of the driver to take a shared ride. But to me that means the driver should also be upfront about their intention. In this case, the driver took us both, but when she got to her home, he charged her my full fare and then a fresh fare for the second leg of her trip.

Does anyone wonder why the taxi drivers are the only ones protesting the metered fare?

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