Why You Still Can’t Find a Cab That Takes Credit Cards
The D.C. Taxicab Commission may have voted to install credit card readers in cabs more than two months ago, but a taxi that lets you pay with plastic is still harder to find than a seat on the Red Line during rush hour.
According to DCTC chair Ron Linton, only about 200 cabs out of the city's 7,000-plus fleet are currently equipped with card readers. Though the installation process officially began on June 1, Linton says that D.C.'s 118 cab companies are taking their time to choose and negotiate with providers. (The District's original plan to have VeriFone equip the entire fleet with "smart meters" fell through last year after the Contract Appeals Board ruled that "pervasive improprieties" were present in the bidding process.) The commission now lists nine approved payment-service providers on its website, and nine providers times 118 cab companies equals a lot of back-and-forth negotiating.
But the days of never having enough cash are almost over. Linton expects that the number of credit card capable cabs will jump to 1,000 by the end of the month, and all companies are mandated to have readers installed by Aug. 31.
"Its a buildup of all the planning, negotiating, all the requirements for getting ready to roll. And now we’re starting to roll," he says.
The updated cabs will be rolling to the tune of a $0.25 higher base fare, which will be used to "support DCTC programs, enforcement actions, and administrative services" according to a DCTC press release from May. Cabs will also be permitted to charge an extra $1 for additional passengers.
At least you're not paying ATM fees, right?
Correction: Due to a reporting error, this post originally misstated that cabs will be permitted to charge an extra $1 per additional passenger rather than an extra $1 for any additional passengers. Due to a reporting error, this post initially incorrectly described a Contract Appeals Board ruling on smart meters. The ruling did not "call foul on the ethics of the bidding process," as the post reported, but it did cite "pervasive improprieties" in the process.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery