Taxi credit-card proposal gets further tweaks

March 20, 2013

City’s failed attempt to procure a unified system has led the Taxi Commission to let drivers pick. (Mike DeBonis — The Washington Post)

This post has been updated to reflect the final vote.

Another step was made Wednesday in the long slog toward mandatory credit-card acceptance in D.C. cabs.

The D.C. Taxicab Commission has endorsed a proposal to tweak regulations surrounding the credit-card mandate — including a modest increase in some fares — at its Wednesday meeting.

The aim of the proposal is to give taxi owners and drivers freedom to choose their own credit-card system while offering them more revenue to offset the costs of acquiring the necessary equipment, which could range from $40 to $90 per month, commission chairman Ron M. Linton said.

Riders will pay more under the plan for some trips, though not appreciably more than what was proposed under the previous plan, which would have required cabbies to install a uniform credit-card/meter system chosen by the city. Now, cab owners will have to choose a system from an approved list of “payment service providers” that offer credit-card readers integrated into the taxi meter and also provide a backseat monitor with GPS and “panic button” safety alert capability.

A proposed 50-cent-per-ride surcharge paid to the commission under the old plan will be reduced to 25 cents under the new plan, but the “flag drop” base fare — which is kept by the driver — will increase from $3 to $3.25, Linton said.

More controversially, the commission has voted to revive a fee for additional passengers. Last April, it voted to ditch a longstanding $1.50-per-passenger surcharge for all vehicles except vans, whose drivers could continue to charge $1 for each additional passenger beyond the first.

Under the new plan, drivers of all types of cabs will be permitted to charge $1 if they carry more than one passenger — but the fee will only apply once regardless of whether there are two, three or five additional riders. Also, a 50-cent per bag luggage handling charge will be dropped

A hearing on the proposed regulations is set for 10 a.m. on April 17 at the Frank D. Reeves Center community room, 2000 14th St. NW, second floor.

If no significant changes are required after a 30-day comment period, the new rules could be in effect as soon as May 31, with cabbies required to comply by Aug. 31.

That would narrowly make good on the pledge made by Mayor Vincent C. Gray in his State of the Union address last month that “by this summer, you will be able to use credit cards in every cab.”

Keep in mind, however, that the last two deadlines contemplated by the commission have been extended.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Local
Next Story
Mike DeBonis · March 20, 2013