Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

The two things D.C. taxi passengers want the most

January 26, 2012 - 10:57 AM
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(Photo: John Hendel)

The results of Councilmember Mary Cheh's unscientific taxi survey are officially here, more than 4,000 responses later. These results come four days before she holds a Council hearing on taxi modernization and less than 24 hours after she checked out the expensive, sleek wheelchair-accessible taxicabs that the city has tested in the last couple years.

Among the many results, two things stand out. Our city's taxi passengers expressed a desire for two amenities at an extraordinarily high level and I suspect that implementing these two features alone would go a long way toward changing people's perceptions.

Should D.C. require credit card readers in taxicabs? 94% say yes. 

Should D.C. require "uniform cruising lights to signal if the taxi is available"? 92% say yes.

That's an extraordinarily large group of supports for that, with little feelings to the contrary at least from the passenger perspective. The Council's taxicab overhaul should go a long way toward implementing these improvements throughout the industry. With other improvements like Uber and the Taxi Magic app, the industry has begun to change and sense the need to change more. The demand is simply too great. As Cheh told me yesterday outside the Wilson Building, it's very much time for all our taxis to accept credit cards. That's a no-brainer.

See more coverage of these taxi survey results from the Post and DCist here. Most other results struck me as what you'd expect ... a healthy percentage of people want improvements in general, they say, and many would think fares are reasonable enough if some of these modernizing improvements. Most respondents were taxi passengers. The numbers will, I'm sure, come up at Cheh's Jan. 30 hearing. Taxi driver behavior has inspired a lot of emotional reactions, which the numbers don't fully reveal. A common narrative I've heard is that taxi drivers maneuver recklessly, and even a D.C. Councilmember has voiced that belief. Just under 70% of people did support more driver training, which is one component of the taxi legislation Cheh, Mayor Vince Gray, and other officials have presented for the coming year.

The one big crazy thing — people overwhelmingly (38% of respondents, more than double ) request that yellow be our uniform cab color. Why, D.C.? Why?

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