Mayor Vincent C. Gray quashed plans Wednesday evening to allow taxicab drivers in the District to charge $1 for each extra passenger after the first one during Nationals playoff game days at home. The mayor’s action came just hours after the D.C. Taxicab Commission announced the surcharge in a news release.
The independent commission had announced that the citywide surcharge would begin two hours prior to the game and stay into effect until 4 a.m. on those days.
But the commission reversed course after Gray learned of the surcharge through the news release and contacted commission chairman Ron M. Linton.
“The mayor expressed his displeasure with the decision, and the chairman agreed,” said Neville Waters, a spokesman for the taxicab commission.
New laws governing the taxicab industry had given the commission permission to institute the surcharge during special events, such as sports playoffs or an inauguration, Waters said. This was the first time the taxicab commission had tried to exercise that authority, he said.
Pedro Ribeiro, the mayor’s spokesman, said the commission is independent but Gray told Linton that the move was “ill-advised.”
In the news release that announced the surcharge, Linton said it would encourage drivers to pick up multiple passengers, as well as passengers in areas of the city that are not near the ballpark.
“The expected crowds attending the Nats’ playoff games will create a significant demand on the D.C. public vehicle-for-hire industry,” he said. “We expect multiple riders to be using taxi services. The additional fare provides a fair compensation to drivers. It will also offer an incentive to deal with the increased congestion around the ballpark that could otherwise depress service, as well as assure service in other parts of the city.”
The commission also announced the following specific rules for drop-offs and pick-ups that will still be in effect:
“Drop-offs are allowed on both sides of Van Street SE on the south side of M Street SE. Vehicles may exit through the public alley to return to South Capitol Street. No taxicabs are allowed to stop on South Capitol Street.
“Pick-ups are restricted to the designated taxi stands which are manned by starters, who will facilitate shared riding. The line will form on the north side of the unit block of M Street SE stretching east. No taxicabs are allowed to pick-up on the south side of M Street SE, Half Street SE, or Potomac Avenue SE. Signs will be posted to indicate the legally-designated drop-off and pick-up areas.
“ Arrangements for limousine services are as follows: drop-offs and pick-ups will be allowed at the Stadium Entrance on Potomac Avenue, SE between Half Street, SE and South Capitol Street; limousines will be required to wait to be summoned by passengers either west of South Capitol Street or north of M Street, SE, in legally designated parking areas. Cruising by limousines will not be allowed.”