As of Saturday, D.C. taxicabs – at least some of them – are charging $2.16 per mile, a significant $0.66 increase from the previous rate of $1.50 per mile, one of the lowest rates in the country. Whether the cost of a ride will dramatically increase, however, is unclear due to the elimination of extra fees and surcharges which make up a significant source of driver revenue.
Drivers, who are considering legal options to overturn the fare adjustment, are particularly concerned about the removal of the $1.50 extra passenger fee. While this fee’s removal hurts drivers, it’s a boon for the hospitality industry whose patrons will benefit from what amounts to an untold number of free rides.
The power the hospitality industry has over the taxicab industry is unmistakable and can be seen in the composition of the D.C. Taxicab Commission. Of the DCTC’s four commissioners (there are supposed to be nine), two are from the hospitality industry (restaurateur Paul Cohn and Bart Lasner with Loews Hotels), while none are from the taxicab industry, even though the law requires that there be three.
Due to the illegality of the commission, as well as taxi chair Ron Linton’s interference with the questionable study that led to the fare increase, The Small Business Association of DC Taxicab Drivers (SBA), which represents 3,000 independent cabbies, has called on its members not to rush recalibrating their meters as SBA considers its legal options.
Drivers have until the end of May to switch their meters before taxi inspectors start issuing tickets. Until then, District riders may be charged either the old or new rates. How many cabs are presently charging the higher rate remains unclear, and TheFightBack‘s call to DCTC asking for a breakdown has yet to be returned.
* One additional point: Vans, which make up a small fraction of the taxis on the road, will continue to charge the extra passenger fee (now $1, not $1.50) on the first three additional passengers.
Taxi Chair and Media Make Serious Allegations Against Drivers, But Offer No Evidence, April 5, 2012
Absentee Taxi Chair Pushes Anti-Driver Agenda, April 1, 2012
Monday, Pete joined NewsChannel 8’s NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt to discuss the fare adjustment and other taxicab issues. (Clip begins at 27:13)