DC taxicab commission considers up-front payment
The D.C. taxicab commission is now exploring the idea of letting drivers charge the fare up front after taxi drivers complained that more passengers flee before paying.
Driver say they have seen an increase in delinquent passengers since the city switched to a meter system.
“There are some people that feel it's ok if you get in a cab with no money, too bad,” said cabbie Larry Frankel.
Drivers say they have passengers who ride and then run at least once a month, including some passengers you wouldn’t expect to ride and dash.
“You have from teens being mischievous to adults that somehow feel it's their right to be able to refuse payment,” Frankel said.
Under the previous zone system, drivers had the option to require pre-payment or a down payment. When D.C. switched to meters, that was cut.
“I've had a couple where the card was declined and people are ‘oh I'm in a hurry I've got to go.’” says taxi driver Carolyn Robinson.
The District's taxicab commission held a hearing on the issue this week and the chairperson says he's studying the problem.
“I don't know the answer yet. It's going to take a good deal more analysis and study,” chairman Ron Linton said.
Cab drivers say at certain times of night and in certain parts of the city, they're more likely to get robbed or ripped off. In Georgetown, they'd rather handle a money transaction with a customer in a well-lit area at the start of a trip rather than at the end of a trip in a dark alley or street, for example.
Drivers say passengers pay up front for airplane, train or bus tickets, but passengers were skeptical about extending that to taxis.
“I wouldn't want to overpay and not go the distance I'm paying for,” one said.
Others worry such an option could mean that passengers would get refused, especially for trips into Anacostia.
“We're here to make a good living and the only way we can do so is by taking the very next fare in front of us no matter what the sit is there,” Frankel said.
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