Thursday, May 1, 2008

About Those Meters . . .

Due to a case of gimpiness that ended in a sprained foot and black and blue toe, I grabbed a taxi today. I totally forgot that this is May 1, Meter Day. Predictably, my driver did not have a meter installed. Then again, my ride took me just over a zone border, and he charged me for only for a one zone trip. When I offered a $20 bill to cover my fare, the driver, who didn't have change, suggested I just give him whatever small bills I had -- a total of $5. I have to admit that under a meter system, a driver would be far less willing to let a passenger escape for any payment under fare. I never thought of that angle. Then again, my ride might have only come to $5 anyway using the new time and distance meters.

11 comments:

John said...

What was the driver going to suggest otherwise... that he could take your $20 bill? What you were basically dealing with is someone who doesn't know how to run their cash-based small business, which requires making change. I'm so tired of people making excuses for -- or sometimes even praising -- the largely irresponsible hacks in this city.

14th & You said...

Ok, true, it would have been wrong for him to just rip me off for the full 20. And, generally speaking, the cabs here are terrible. See other posts under the topic "cab meters" for more of my thoughts. I've heard that DC is where NYC cabs that don't meet operating standards go to die. I guess my standards are so low in this city that I was over-joyed to pay a fair price and not have my life endangered by an insane driver.

Anonymous said...

For as many truly terrible experiences with cab drivers here in DC, I really have had almost an equal number of really, really kind and generous drivers.

The time on the way to traffic court that the driver said "No Charge" just because he knew I was in for a miserable afternoon. Or the time that, after asking the driver to stop at an ATM, my paycheck hadn't cleared and I went back to the cab to apologize and send him on his way but he took me to my destination anyway - no charge.

While I am thrilled that meters are here, I can't say I won't miss the occasional freebie.

native daughter of the golden west said...

I agree with Anonymous. For every cruddy ride, there's a fair (or even good!) ride. People only remember the bad rides. I've had quite a few free rides due to wrong turns, two "pay whatever you want" when jumping into Maryland cabs in DC, too many fascinating conversations to count, and a particularly hilarious offer to share a spleef with the driver and his lady friend as the cab hurtled down Massachusetts at 60mph with the windows down and The Roots blasting.

Of course, don't get me started on the bad rides. But isn't that too easy?

Anonymous said...

a spleef?

Catherine said...

Yeah, for all of the absolutely terrible rides I've had in cabs, there have been some highly entertaining ones. Like in college, when a cabbie told me and my girlfriends in depth stories about his lack of sexual experience...

caroline said...

Last night I took a cab and the driver tried to claim the meter rule doesn't go into effect until June 1st. I told him he was full of shit but paid the zone fare anyway.

Brian 14&V said...

My guess is that you'll all be crying to have the zone system back after the first time you've taken a cab during heavy traffic and you realize you're being charged $0.25 for every 60 seconds that the speedometer doesn't go above 10 mph. They've said meters are easier for tourists, but I'm sorry I think we should evaluate changes first in terms of their effects on RESIDENTS of the city than on tourists who come here for a week. The zone system is imperfect, but there's a monetary incentive for the driver to get you where you're going as fast as possible: the sooner he does, the sooner he can pick up another fare. With the meters, there's a monetary incentive for making the trip take as long as possible and for taking the longest possible route.

pqresident said...

I take a cab about once a week and I rarely go outside zone 1. guess I'm going to have to adjust but I'm willing to bet that 4 out of every 5 cabs I get in won't have the meters installed for a while.

credit savvy said...

yep that is so irresponsible and intentional


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Anonymous said...

actually, altruism does not stop with a meter. i was in chicago, and took a cab from my hotel on the loop to a little restaurant. the ride was all of five minutes, in DC the distance would have cost about $10. I was AMAZED when he said the fare was something ridiculous, like two bucks. Of course, i only had a 20, so i said let me run in and get change, and he said, don't worry about it, and drove off. I have not had anything happen like this in DC. Getting the correct fare from a driver in the zone system is miraculous enough.

i did hear that the taxi meters got pushed back to June 1 for some stupid reason, something about the courts or something.... sorry i can't offer more detail in that regard.