As a member of the taxicab industry, I applaud the D.C. Taxicab Commission for wanting quality taxi service for all citizens. However, the commission's sting operation is misdirected {"Undercover Riders Gauge Prejudice of D.C. Cabbies," Metro, July 17}.

Citizens who live outside the city's central business district are ill-served by our taxicab system. Of the 6,800 licensed cabs in Washington, only 1,200 are equipped with two-way radios so that they can be dispatched to areas where it is unprofitable to cruise for fares. Many of these 1,200 taxicabs use their radios only sporadically, because the zone system discourages trips to outlying areas. Taxicab meters would encourage cabs to serve these outlying areas.

The city should require new taxicabs to be equipped with two-way radios. New drivers should be given probationary licenses that require them to work in such radio-dispatch cabs for two years as a type of apprenticeship. These new drivers would work closely with an experienced dispatcher and in doing so both learn the city and serve the outlying areas.

The cab commission also should limit the invasion of the city streets by suburban taxicab companies and other radio-dispatched chauffeuring services.

These invaders take the most profitable business in the city, such as contract accounts with law firms and lobbyists, because they are equipped with meters, which these organizations prefer. They do not provide service to the less affluent.

With this profitable business being siphoned off, D.C. cab companies find it even more unprofitable to operate a radio-dispatch system. Independent contractors also do not associate with the five existing dispatch systems, because they too do not find it profitable.

The taxicab commission could end the institutionalized discrimination against the poor, black and elderly citizens of the city by bringing the city's cab system into the 20th century.

A system that treats cab drivers and passengers fairly does not necessitate a $25,000 sting operation, but rather promotes efficient taxicab service to all parts of town and to all D.C. citizens.

DAVE SCHAEFFER President, District Cab Washington