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Ron Linton, the chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission, said today on WAMU 88.5 FM's The Politics Hour that riders of the city's taxicabs will be able to pay their fares with credit cards by September.
"On June 1 the installation of these, what we call the modern taxi meter system, will begin in our 7,300 taxicabs, to be completed by August 31. So on the first of September no one should have any problem using a credit system to take a taxicab ride," said Linton.
There's a small caveat, though — the installation is contingent on the commission passing the necessary regulations at its May 8 meeting. Linton said on the show that he was confident that they would do so, finally bringing the long-awaited smart meters to D.C.'s taxicabs.
Still, the meters have been repeatedly delayed. If Linton's wish does come true, the meters will have arrived a full year after Mayor Vince Gray announced a five-year, $35 million contract with a smart meter vendor to install a single type of meter in all of the city's cabs. That deal fell through due to problems with how the contract was awarded, and in the aftermath the commission opted to allow cab drivers to choose from a number of certified meter vendors instead.
Once the new meters are installed, The base fare will increase from $3.00 to $3.25; the driver will keep that extra quarter. A proposed per-ride surcharge was decreased from $.50 to $.25, a fee that will be collected by the District. Drivers will be allowed to charge an extra dollar per ride if more than one passenger climbs into the cab.
The new meters are one part of a broader plan to modernize the city's aging taxicab fleet. Cabs will soon sport new dome lights, allowing riders to see if they are available for a hail. Additionally, the commission recently announced that it had chosen red and gray as the uniform color scheme that all cabs will have to adopt by 2018.