City Desk

Cab Drivers Rally for Another Credit Card Reader Extension, Commission Says No


District cab drivers have had 120 days and two deadline extensions to retrofit their cabs with electronic payment readers. The D.C. Taxicab Commission is saying enough is enough, and come Oct. 1, any cab caught without a credit card reader will be towed.

But about 200 cab drivers gathered Wednesday in Freedom Plaza to rally against the nearing deadline, claiming to be justified in their protest: The whole installation process, the drivers alleged, has been a total mess.

The drivers rattled off a litany of issues they've faced trying to comply with the new regulations. Chief among them: Most of the payment service provider companies are facing a backlog of orders for credit card readers, and the ones that do have machines in stock are jacking up the prices.

The commission approved eight PSP companies that drivers can choose from, and the prices are not regulated.

"Come Monday, if they don't have a credit card reader, they're out of work," said Aurora Vasquez, a lawyer who works with D.C. Drivers United for Equal Rights and helped organize the rally along with the Excluded Workers Project, which just released a report detailing all the installation issues.

Cab driver Temegegen Gebeyehu said his contract with one company was canceled, and now the company with the best price he wants to use won't be able install his credit card reader until Oct. 20, putting him out of work for three weeks.

A few other drivers said they have their machines installed, but the PSPs haven't given them the money for payments already made with their credit card readers. Neville Waters, the spokesman for the Taxicab Commission, says he hasn't heard about this issue, but would look into it.

At the rally, drivers said they were in favor of the credit card readers, but didn't think the process should be rushed. They held signs directed at Cab Commission Chair Ron Linton, saying "Ron Linton: Don't tow my cab. Fix the backlog. Extend the deadline."

"We need extended time," they chanted.

Waters, who wasn't at the rally, says the protestors likely represent a small portion of drivers who had troubles and by Oct. 1, about 5,000 cabs will have the electronic readers installed. (There are currently 7,000 registered cabs, though may of them may be retiring or switching to sedans, opting not to get a reader installed.)

"No more extensions are being granted," Waters says. "It's a little frustrating because this has been in effect since June."

Photo by Perry Stein

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  • ShawGuy

    I think if the cab drivers can show proof that they put in their order for equipment and installation over 60 days ago, fine, give them a little more time.

    But for the ones who just went yesterday and found out the preferred item is out of stock? Tough cookies. Sometimes there are repercussions for waiting until the last minute, and paying more for the same thing is often one of them. If I pay a parking ticket right away, it costs less than if I wait and let it double. If I pay my credit card bill on time, it costs $39 less than if I wait even one hour past the cutoff to pay. That's life. Deal with it.

  • abel

    before you say some thing you should know what is going on in the taxi cab industry. I'm confused by your comment you tried to compare parking ticket with cab drivers issue. The truth is every cab driver is for the improvement of the industry but because of DCTC bad plane and regulation we come to the point that we are hear now and don't forgot that the PSP providers trying to take advantage by changing the contract to rip off cab drivers.

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