Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Easy Activism: Taxi Meters

As I've stated in a previous post I believe that DC cab rates are already too high. The currently proposed time and distance meter rates have the potential to be even higher by an average of $0.97. Ugh. In any event, DC cab riders would pay the highest taxi fares in the nation if the proposed rates go through.

The Washington Post has already run a story estimating fares here. According to the organization DC Residents for Reasonable Taxi Fares, the Post will run a story in the coming week that will feature the organization's viewpoint that rates are too high. Local WJLA news has also featured the efforts of DC Residents for Reasonable Taxi Fares.

If you happen to agree that rates are too high, the simplest thing you can do is to sign the petition here. When you sign electronically, you will also be able to add a comment to the Mayor. As of last week's round-table held by Jim Graham, there were 850 signatures and 42 pages of public comments. You can also send a form letter to Mayor Fenty, the DC City Council, and DC Taxicab Commission simultaneously through this website. I have an unproven belief that customizing the letter and subject line may be more effective in grabbing the attention of our leadership.

Jim Graham has oversight of the Taxi Cab Commission, so you might want to target him personally for your correspondence. His contact information can be found here. If you live in Cardozo/Shaw, Adams Morgan, or Columbia Heights, as constituents of Ward 1, Graham may be even more likely to pay heed to your concerns. As the Mayor's office has proposed the new cab rules, you may want to copy them on any correspondence that you send to Graham or other Council members.

The number of DC citizens who make their voices heard on this issue is very important. Jim Graham seems to believe that he represents the wishes of all 6500 cab drivers in the city by supporting zone meters and threatening to legislate this issue. The Mayor's office as well appears to be supporting drivers by setting the drop fee so high and maintaining current surcharges. Commissioner Sandra Seegars of ANC 8E has a petition stating that 97 percent of Ward 8 residents support fixed rates. Those in favor of time and distance meters as well as lower fares will have to respond in numbers sufficient to counter the cab drivers and the approximately 71,000 residents of Ward 8. I also believe that we can come up with more convincing arguments than the opposition is using
the Mayor is overstepping his authority; we need to protect the business interests of cab drivers (who may or may not be DC residents) over the cab riding public; neither residents nor cab drivers have a problem with current fares.

Please take 5 minutes from your home or office computer to sign a petition and/or send an email.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you send the Council, especially Mr. Graham, an email or letter, please make it clear that you still prefer Time & Distance meters over Zone meters. In the round table, Mr. Graham was repeatedly using the fact the people are unhappy about the drop rate to say, 'see, people like the Zone pricing just fine, they just want a meter to go with it.' He clearly wants to change the decision to Zone Meters.

For the record, although the drop rate is the highest in the nation, the mileage rate is the lowest in the nation. I know this doesn't help most trips, but the idea was to keep the fare for poorer people taking longer cab rides from rising. I agree with removing the rush hour surcharge and lowering the drop rate, but $2.50 isn't going to work. You have to address the entire structure, and Graham is saying that is too difficult, especially since in his view (and the cab drivers that testified) everyone is happy with the Zone fares as they are today.

I believe that getting to time and distance meters is the only way we will eventually be able to schedule early morning pickups the night before (right now no DC companies will do it), and remove the surcharge for calling a cab for pickup, as opposed to hailing one. I also think it's the only way we will ever get charged fairly and consistently for trips across the district line.

So please word your emails accordingly if you agree with Time & Distance meters as opposed to Zone Meters.