Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Fare Wars

If you think the Iraq war has dragged on a long time, you should take a look at the war over D.C. taxicab fares. Ever since I've moved to town, there have been proposals to replace D.C.'s bizarre, antiquated zone system with a meter system -- like every other city has. Every couple of years it is announced that we are switching to meters. But it never actually happens.

The latest news is that a meeting to discuss the current meter proposal had to be canceled -- because the likely attendance was too big for the room!

There's nothing like a D.C. cab ride. Not only is the fare too high, but you have no idea what it's going to be. The zone map traditionally had northeast at the top, making it extra difficult to fathom. It's finally been replaced by a map with north at the top as usual, but I haven't seen the new map in an actual cab yet. There's an extra charge per passenger (what other city has that?), cabbies are allowed to pick up another fare while you're in the cab, and cabbies also love to tack on a "fuel surcharge" or "bag charge" that they might or might not have made up.

I used to wonder why cabbies were so intent on keeping the zone fare. Finally, one of them pointed out to me that if you have a meter, it keeps track of your income. And if it keeps track of your income, you have to pay income tax on it. I'm not accusing all D.C. cabbies of not declaring their income, but that sure does sound like a reason for them to want to stick with their zones.

1 comment:

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