Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I'm not a cabdriver or a frequent rider, but anyone who can count can see that what's fair is fair. A cab ride in rush hour is going to take longer and prevent the driver from accepting other fares. It should cost more -- otherwise, we're likely to find cabs disappearing during rush hour because they can't afford to run at a loss.

Riders do not want to pay extra to be stuck in traffic, but if cab businesses or employees are instead forced to absorb that cost, then they'll have to either raise overall rates to compensate or stop providing the service.

Meters are the way to go.

Mark D. Hall

Mount Vernon

Somehow, cabs using the zone system are available during rush hours.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As a resident of the District and a cab rider, I would much prefer a meter system. More important, tourists, so critical to the District's economy, are ill-served by an opaque and inexplicable zone system, as well as by those taxi drivers who take advantage of passenger ignorance of the system.

Lynne Martin


It seems to me the meter system is the most clear and fair way to go. Does anyone know of anyplace else in the world where a zone fare system is used?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Per your request for readers' preference for metered or zoned fares for District taxicabs: My vote is for meters.

As I see it, the zone system is an open invitation to cheat all passengers who do not routinely travel a fixed route.

Brent Malcolm

Silver Spring

Paying for a cab ride through the zone system is a mystery to many of us. I think we'd like to know how much we're being charged and see the number displayed, as we would on any cash register.

Parents Should Teach

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

We recently moved to Virginia and are interested in recommendations for a commercial driving school. How much should it cost for classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction?

Jeff and Joanna Carra


I suggest that parents take charge of basic driver training. Take trips during spring break and in the summer. Ride with your children until you feel they are ready to drive solo.

Put them in all sorts of basic and challenging driving situations: changing lanes, merging, interstate driving, nighttime travel, the Capital Beltway, stopping for an animal, snow, ice, rain, passing on a two-lane road, running off a road and getting back on, city driving, recognizing red traffic lights and parallel parking.

Simply reaching a 16th birthday is not a good reason to get a license. I suggest that completing 1,000 miles of local driving and 1,000 miles of interstate driving is a better barometer.

I-95's HOV Schedule

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Would you kindly inform me which days and hours the HOV lanes along Interstate 95 are open to the north and to the south?

Roger Mudd


The barrier-divided Interstate 395/95 HOV-3 lanes are open to everybody, including non-carpoolers, as follows:


From 1 to 3:30 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

From 1 to 3:30 p.m. Fridays, and from 6 p.m. Fridays until 2 p.m. Saturdays.


From 9 to 11 a.m. and from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

From 9 to 11 a.m. Fridays.

From 4 p.m. Saturdays to 6 a.m. Mondays.

HOV-3 hours are 6 to 9 a.m. northbound and 3:30 to 6 p.m. southbound, Mondays through Fridays.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursday in The Extra and Sunday in the Metro section. You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers.