Hundreds of worried D.C. taxi drivers packed a crowded hearing room Monday because the city is considering a crackdown on how cabs operate, collect fares and report driver income. The city's hotel industry is complaining the cab system gives the city a bad reputation.
While there are thousands of cabs in the District, no one really knows how many are working any given day or where they go or don't go. The drivers agree that things should be better, but they're worried about being put out of business.
The city is considering reforms that would bring more order to the D.C. taxi industry. They include things like uniform color for all city cabs. They also would require new fare boxes that, with a GPS system, would record not only the fare, but when and where a cab goes and how long it takes. Cabs also would accept credit cards and record how much money cab drivers actually make.
At Monday’s hearing, Washington Hilton General Manager Steve Cowan complained too many cabs don't turn on the heat or air conditioning to save gas.
The cab industry needs to be better regulated, Council members said, but cab drivers, who were forced to install meters during the Mayor Adrian Fenty Administration when the zone system was scrapped, worry that all the changes will force independent drivers out of business and allow big companies to take over the industry.
D.C. Taxi Commission Chairman Ron Linton told the Council he hopes to have many reforms in place within a year.