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Posted at 10:46 AM ET, 06/16/2010

D.C. taxi drivers say their complaints are still not heard

Updated 11:11 a.m.

A five-mile ride with a five-minute wait in the District costs $11.50, the lowest in the region, according to a study by an economist on behalf of two taxicab groups.

Kara Gorski, vice president of District-based Edgewoth Economics, told taxicab commissioners that her firm looked at surrounding jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia and found higher fares there. Prince George's County came closest in price to the District, charging $12.75 for the same five-and-five ride, according to her written testimony. Bethesda was highest with $16.33.

Some taxi drivers and this reporter were allowed to enter the small hearing room where the commission is listening to testimony about whether the city's current rate structure is fair and equitable.

Some District taxicab drivers say Wednesday's hearing on rates proves once again that their voices will not be heard.

The taxicab commission is holding the hearing in a small room at a government building on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard SE. Some taxi drivers and a reporter (yours, truly) are stuck in a hallway.

"There are 6,000 taxi drivers in the District. There are 38 seats," said Leroy Armes, 20-year veteran behind the wheel. "What does that tell you?"

Cab drivers have been lamenting fares since Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) switched the taxi system from zones to one that operates with meters. The cab industry has complained that drivers are now making less money, an average 30 percent decrease in income.

They say the current rate of $1.50 per mile is not enough. There is also a $19 cap on fares, drivers said.

By  |  10:46 AM ET, 06/16/2010

Categories:  Nikita Stewart, Nikita Stewart

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