It has been two years since D.C. taxis began using a meter system instead of a zone system to collect fares, and cab drivers continue to grumble about aspects of the switch.
Cabbies are kicking off a massive campaign on Tuesday to inform the public about how they say Mayor Adrian Fenty’s policies are impacting their industry.
There are 100,000 flyers circulating around the District listing cab drivers’ concerns. The D.C. Area Professional Taxicab Drivers Association said cabbies lost a third of their salaries when the meters replaced the zone method for fares.
“I’m worried that our elderly African American drivers are sliding into poverty," the association’s president, Nathan Price, said in a statement. "They have rising medical expenses and no retirement savings. Mayor Fenty is in the driver’s seat today, holding our livelihoods hostage.”
Meters are not the problem, cabbies say. They say that Fenty set the fares too low. In a review last July, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission reported the median mileage rate was $2; D.C.’s is $1.50. Cabbies want to see the rate increased to $2.25, according to the Dominion of Cab Drivers Web site.
Cab drivers are also upset about how they say Fenty has had complete authority over the taxicab industry for the past two years. They said he refuses to restore that power back to the D.C. Taxicab Commission.
Also, cab drivers say they are forced to provide free service because of the $19 cap on fares.
“Our basic human rights are being violated by this administration," said Haimanot Bzuayehu, Chair of United Ventures Consortium. "Today we are working in sweatshop conditions."
Anyone who wants to sympathize with the cabbies can attend their rally from noon to 4 p.m. today at Freedom Plaza near the White House.