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The District wants to modernize its taxi fleet, with Mayor Vincent Gray proposing a series of changes. But he's getting some push-back from independent cabbies.
The D.C. Taxicab Commission recommended a hike in taxi fares in a report last week, and Gray is expected to introduce legislation today that would incorporate those hikes, as well as allow the District to mandate that all cabs be painted a uniform color, that they carry GPS devices, and that they take credit cards, according to Associated Press.
The mayor also wants cabbies to be trained on customer service skills, saying they are goodwill ambassadors for visitors to D.C.
Lewis Walker has been a cabbie in since 1965 and offers a diplomatic reaction to the scheme. "I think certain parts of it are okay. Like, for instance, one color, and training for the cabbie, I think they should be able to speak English," he says. "I think that's a good idea. Credit card, I don't care for the credit cards, but it seems like they have it in other cities, so you know, eventually, we're probably going to get them."
Some independent cabbies see this as yet another attack on their livelihood. Some of them say when the District changed from zones to meters a few years ago, their income dropped by as much as 30 percent.
Even though the mayor's plan includes a hike in fares they say it will be offset by a reduction in some of the additional fees cabbies now charge.