By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.
We covered the controversial DC Taxicab hearing in November, where many asserted that fares would double under the new proposed fare regime. That wasn’t exactly true and as we noted, part of the fare increase deal was a supposed end to some of the surcharges for extra passengers and luggage.
Well, now it turns out that perhaps those original alarmist headlines weren’t so out of order. The current luggage surcharge is 50 cents for each bag (beyond your free first one) handled by the driver; now, it will be 50 cents per bag placed by the operator in the trunk.
And those passenger surcharges are sticking around, too. Under the existing rules, cab drivers can charge $1.50 per person beyond the first rider; now they will be able to charge $1 per rider (but only if you are a cab van).
We asked ANC 2B-04 Commissioner Jack Jacobson what he thought of the current proposals. Jacobson is a spokesperson for DC Taxi Watch (also on Facebook). “The new time and distance rate proposal is really a lose-lose for the District’s riding public. We’re being forced to pay more today for the same poor service, with the promise of possible service/vehicle improvements at some unspecified date in the future. I’m not aware of any other industries where this dismissive and abusive treatment of consumers is an acceptable practice,” said Jacobson.
The fuel surcharge should be removed with the new regulations, but if you check the DC Taxicab Commission site, you will see a notice extending the emergency fuel surcharge through June 2012. These charges are in addition to the rate changes, which are still going up. The proposed rule increases the additional mile rate from 25 cents per 1/6 of a mile to 27 cents per 1/8 of a mile. That new rate adds up to $2.16 per mile, which is about 67 cents extra.
“The regulations regarding mileage and age standards for the District’s taxicab fleet could actually have a positive impact on vehicle safety and performance for District consumers in the long run. However, this proposal too will likely be watered down to the point of ineffectiveness as the Commission will likely once again bend to the will of the District’s outdated, intransigent taxicab industry,” said Jacobson.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that the re-publication of the rule, after a few amendments in a January hearing, got very little coverage (kudos to our pal, Mike DeBonis for Mke DeBonis for his piece in the The Washington Post). The 30-day comment period is awfully close to expiring, so you have a limited amount of time to leave a comment. You can see the regs at the DCTC site.
In return for the fare increase, expect some standardization with credit card acceptance, lights and taxicab colors. Is that enough of a return on your dollar to support the fare increase? And based on your experiences, do you believe that only vans will charge that surcharge for extra passengers or that you won’t be charged the baggage fee if you personally load your own suitcase?
Jacobson’s final parting shot: “The District’s taxicab industry has written the rules and regulations for the District for decades, and in response, we have the most ineffective, unfriendly system in the country. Unfortunately it appears that the Commission is going to continue the same old song and dance and give the taxicab industry everything it wants while gouging consumers and maintaining the worst managed fleet in operation today.”