D.C. Taxicab Commission Making Strides On New Payment Systems | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

D.C. Taxicab Commission Making Strides On New Payment Systems

Play associated audio
Cab drivers will utilize tablets to allow riders to choose their method of payment.
Martin Di Caro
Cab drivers will utilize tablets to allow riders to choose their method of payment.

D.C. regulators are assuring the paying public that all cabs licensed in the District will be able to accept both credit card and smart phone payments by the end of summer, after a demonstration to show the new technology coming to all taxis actually works.

Two tech companies, Uber and mytaxi, have criticized the D.C. Taxicab Commission, claiming their app-based hailing and payment services wouldn't function with the payment systems taxi drivers are required to install by Sept. 1. Uber claimed integration, as the process is technically called, has not been accomplished in any city where it operates.

At a body shop that services cab fleets in Southwest on Tuesday, integration was shown to work. As Taxicab Commission officials looked on, representatives of the tech firms Hailo and Taxi Radar demonstrated how customers will be able to pay fares from their smartphones in sync with the payment consoles and tablets taxi drivers will offer their passengers.

"We worked with the DCTC to fully understand what the regulations entail and how we can create a marriage, and we've done our part," said Hailo's Washington general manager Yonis Benitez.

Drivers will hand payment tablets back to passengers paying with credit cards to manually enter tip amounts for the first three months. The tablets will be fixed in the back seat starting in December. Passengers paying with their smartphones should see no difference when universal credit card payments begin.

Taxicab Commission Chairman Ron Linton, a frequent target of Uber's attacks, said his next challenge is getting drivers to accept the changes.

"We are constantly in touch with them and reviewing their planning," said Linton, who said the company whose body shop hosted the tech demonstration has assured regulators its fleet of 500 taxis will be ready to go by July 20.

Currently 7,000 taxicabs are licensed to operate in D.C.

"If we can hit 3,500 by the end of July then we only have another 50 percent to go in August. On Sept. 1 we will begin enforcing, and if a taxi does not have a modern taximeter system, their car will be impounded and will not be returned until they make an appointment with an installation shop," Linton said.

The changes that will result in convenience for customers will also mean better data for regulators, according to the head of another tech firm with a popular smartphone app in Washington.

"The interesting thing about regulators is that for almost 100 years they have regulated industries by survey and by anecdote. With this system they will understand anonymous data — actual ride data — from across the city and see where service is being provided and where it's not," said Sanders Partee, president of Arlington-based TaxiMagic, an app for booking, tracking, and paying taxi rides. "I think the big beneficiaries are the consumers. They want a safe ride and accessible rides."

NPR

What's A Writer Gotta Do To Get A Little Health Care Around Here?

When you're making plans to become a famous author, just remember that you're going to want health care — especially when 40 rolls around and your body is no longer made of rubber.
NPR

When Zero Doesn't Mean Zero: Trans Fats Linger In Food

One in 10 packaged foods still contains trans fats, according to a new study. The problematic oils give foods a rich taste and texture and extend shelf life, but have been linked to heart disease.
WAMU 88.5

Testimony Wraps In McDonnell Trial, Closing Arguments Expected Friday

Leaving the courthouse this afternoon, the former Virginia governor said he was confident in his legal team's defense: "We've got three of the best law firms in the country that are working on this case."
NPR

New Amazon Series Pilots Fall Short Of A TV Revolution

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans ranks Amazon's new batch of five series pilots, asking why none of them seem break the rules of TV quite enough to draw attention.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.