More D.C. taxicabs could get new paint scheme sooner

December 12, 2013

Fewer than 1,000 of the city’s 6,500 cabs have the new scheme. (D.C. Taxicab Commission)

Mayor and newly minted candidate Vincent C. Gray arrived at Thursday’s D.C. Chamber of Commerce 75th anniversary luncheon ready to run through his usual litany of economic-development accomplishments.

More than once, Gray (D) stepped on his own applause lines as he tried to rattle off as many facts and figures as he could. But he won a hearty round of approval from the crowd of more than 500 with this line: “By the way, have you seen our new-look taxicabs  in the District of Columbia?”

Gray proceeded to step on his own administration’s plans to announce an expansion of the new standard red-and-gray taxi paint scheme to a greater portion of the city taxi fleet.

“You’ll hear more about this: We will be launching soon an incentive program to try to encourage our taxicab drivers, taxicab owners to move more quickly to make the conversion,” he said.

D.C. Taxicab Commission Chairman Ron M. Linton, who was in attendance, confirmed his office is preparing a voucher program for taxi owners that would pay for part of the cost of a new paint job. Currently, the new scheme is required only for new cars or old cars that are being newly repainted anyway. The amount of the vouchers and the cost of the program are still under deliberation.

The hope, Linton says, is to get the scheme on half of the city’s roughly 6,500 cabs by next year. Right now, he estimates, fewer than 1,000 cabs have the new look.

In other news, the Taxicab Commission also announced Thursday it had taken action against its first four drivers for failing to adhere to the new requirement that all cabs accept credit card payments. The fines came in response to customer complaints that had been logged with the commission since the mandate took effect Oct. 1.

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.
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Mike DeBonis | December 12, 2013