The D.C. Taxicab Commission, after three months of unproductive meetings, failed again yesterday to pass a proposal for an interim fare increase for cabdrivers. The proposal will be brought up again today in yet another meeting.
D.C. Taxicab Commission Chairman Arrington L. Dixon last week angrily suspended the commission's rates and rule panel when he felt they were unable to move forward on the rate increase proposal.
He then asked the full 11-member commission, made up of the rates panel and the adjudication panel, to consider the rate increase yesterday. Previously, each panel voted independently on issues within their purview.
The move by Dixon to sidestep the rates panel was met with stiff resistance by some panel members who objected to the change in procedure.
The proposal for a 16 percent increase in each of the eight cab zones, if approved, would not have taken effect immediately. It would be open for public comment for 30 days and then the proposal and the comments would be returned to the commissioners for final action.
Staff economist Scott Moore told the commissioners that the proposed increase was based on a five-year-old study because cabdrivers have been unwilling to give the commission current income figures. Taxi drivers have not had an increase in two years, and the commission wanted to impose the interim increase pending a more complete study.
After three hours of discussion yesterday, Dixon suddenly dropped his request for the full commission vote and supported instead a substitute motion by Commissioner William Wright to return the matter to the rates panel.
During the meeting, Wright had whispered conversations with several other commissioners before making his counter proposal.
"I have no doubt they will do the job tomorrow," Wright told Dixon as several cabdrivers attending the meeting groaned their disapproval.
The meeting ended with no votes being taken.
After the meeting, Dixon said he felt he had won on the issues even without achieving his stated goal of an affirmative vote by the full commission.
"The panel will move forward now," he said. "We have pushed them to the point where they will have to move. We wanted some action and now we will have some action."
Commissioner Yale P. Lewis, a rates panel member who generally supports Dixon, said he was disappointed that the chairman did not insist on a full commission vote.
"We missed the boat this time, " he said. "Dixon was clear on his goals and then he just didn't follow through."
Lucille Johnson, another rates panel member, said she felt the panel would indeed take a postion today on a rate increase.