DC Scraps Zone System, Cabbies Threaten To Strike

Cab rides in Washington will soon be cheaper thanks to Mayor Adrian Fenty’s decision to scrap the DC’s antiquated and expensive zone system in favor of the modern meter system found in any respectable city. Cheaper fares for residents means less profit for cabbies. Said one: “There is no way we can make a living on a [time-and-distance] meter.”

“The talk of a strike is in the formulation plans,” said Nathan Price, a driver for Yellow Cab Company of D.C. Inc. and a spokesman for the D.C. Professional Taxicab Drivers Association (PTDA).

Mr. Price said the group represents about 500 city cabdrivers. “It’s to send a message … that we’re going to fight. The strike is for real.”

A June study performed by George Washington University for the taxi commission compared fares for identical trips measured by taxis using meters and the zone system.

For most shorter trips, meter fares were cheaper than zone fares. For longer trips, zone fares were generally cheaper.

Mr. Fenty’s decision was mandated by a provision placed in D.C. legislation by Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, that forced Mr. Fenty to require the switch to meters by yesterday. The mayor could have opted out of the order and kept the current zone system, which was established by Congress and dates back to the Depression era.

The senator — who has complained publicly about receiving different cab fares over the years for the same trip — yesterday praised Mr. Fenty’s choice.

“Mayor Fenty’s decision is the right one,” Mr. Levin said. “Washington is a world-class capital city with a strong mayor, and his decision reflects that.”

Cabbies – who in 1932 lambasted the zone system as discriminatory – are threatening a Halloween strike if the meter system is adopted.

Fenty orders D.C. taxis to adopt meters [Washington Times]
(Photo: Daquella manera)