The Washington Post

In Arlington, the makings of a ‘grand bargain’ on taxi fares?

The Big Apple has somehow figured out how to get credit card readers in every cab. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

There’s a twist: As part of the deal, the county’s cab drivers would have to accept credit cards by April 1.

The board hasn’t made any decisions yet, or even held a hearing, but the fare-hike-for-credit-card trade is a concept that could easily reappear on the other side of the Potomac River.

In an interview last month, D.C. Taxicab Commission Chairman Ron Linton said he was open to a “grand bargain” that would trade a fare hike for service improvements. But D.C. cab drivers, most of whom own their own cabs, aren’t too keen on this kind of deal. They think the current rates are too low to subsist on, irrespective of other concerns, and they are concerned that they alone will have to absorb the cost of installing card readers.

The much smaller Arlington system could be an interesting prelude for a potential District deal. It should be noted that cabs there are subject to a much more rigorous regulatory scheme than in the District — there is a medallion system, with a hard cap on the number of licensed cabs, and the vehicles are subject to fuel-efficiency standards.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.


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