Thursday, September 13, 2007

DC Taxi Zone Google Map

DC Taxi Zone Google Map, originally uploaded by El Greg.

Anyone interested in the recent debate over taxis potentially switching from the zone system to meters? A reader rightly points out that there is a zone going right through the beginning of Petworth and Ward 4, so it would definitely affect us. Now that taxis actually drive to Petworth we should get in on the debate.

The Post has the details here.


theneighbor said...

With the traffic in D.C. being so horrible almost all the time, I am wondering why anyone would want to go to a meter system. Why, so that they can sit in traffic, in a cab, while the meter ticks away? A normally $5 dollar cab ride could turn into a $10 cab ride. I feel with the zone system (if you know where you are)you at least know what you will be paying before you get there.

Anonymous said...

I urge everyone to email Fenty, Neil Albert, Muriel Bowser and Kwame Brown. You can easily find the addresses.

I've urged them to get rid of the "Ward 4 Tax," the extra $2.20 we must pay for the privilege of passing Randolph St.

As a solution, I've urged them to either go to a regular fare system, or else to move the zone boundary several blocks north.

Anonymous said...

I HATE ZONES! They are ridiculous--a three minute drive from Dupont to just north of Florida ave. goes through 2 zones... while a drive from just south of Florida Ave all the way to my office on Capitol Hill(15-25 minutes, given traffic) costs just one zone.

I'd HAPPILY pay more for the long ride, if I could just sometimes catch a cab for short rides (I'm always running late everywhere) without feeling like an idiot
for paying so much. It makes me take cabs way less here than in New York, because at the moment, the
cheapest possible fare is $7.50 --even if you're just going a few blocks.

Plus, what's up with charging for extra people in your party going to the same locale? That ensures that
cabs are always more expensive than public transport--while in NYC, sometimes it even makes financial sense to take cabs if you've got a few people...

Finally--the fact that DC cabbies can own their own cabs is fine and all--but a lot of them are just
falling apart. I got in one yesterday where the rim around the door was falling off and "ringed" me getting in and out, so I had to dance like with a hula hoop to get out. Others have been so old as to be scary, and one once broke down while I was in it. Not such a good face to show the touristas, me thinks...

reuben said...

I have always thought that the meter system would actually encourage cabbies ( albeit in a cynical way) to take folks to -how you say in your country-"sketchy" neighborhoods, because they'd get more money for it... This is my hometown, but there are some seemingly endless arguments/debates (this one, the fact that we have one car inspection station) which makes us look like Mayberry. Wait-I take that back. Mayberry seemed to have a straightforward, common sense approach to things.

odentex said...

There is a solution: it's called the 60 bus.

bogfrog said...

Is Petworth technically lavendar? I can't see the zone boundaries too well and I never take taxis... So how much would that cost from Petworth to Union Sta, for example?

Fight the cab said...

You gotta love the stupid zone that is really narrow and runs along eastern ave. Seiously, what is that? I have gotten into endless arguements with cab drivers over zones, and worse, snow emergency rates. Meter, no argument, except if they take you for a "ride". Meters would also finally benefit all the poor VA and MD suckers who have to "negotiate" fares to get out of the district.
Meters might also finally allow for some competition. VA and MD cabs are not allowed to pick up fares in DC, and vice versa. If everyone is on meters, then the differnce in payment systems disappears and maybe there will suddenly be more cabs in DC. Just a thought.

ColHeightsChic said...

Absolutely meters, in my opinion! In addition to the arguments anonymous #2 makes, I find it infuriating that cabbies can stop and pick up other fares while you're in the middle of your route, and charge both riders! It's crazy that from Adams Morgan or Columbia Heights, I have to pay two zones just to go to Dupont. I almost never take cabs in DC, because I find the zone system to be infuriating and way too many cabbies to be corrupt. If we switch to zones, I'm sure the cabbies would find they'd fill up with many more short-ride fares, allowing them to capitilize on their time. I could debate this stupid cab system til I turn blue in the face. Way to get me all riled up POP!

Erin said...

Ah, the ever interesting question of zones versus meters in the DC taxi system.

As for people's opinions on the matter, I think this is a classic example of where you stand is where you sit. Living a four blocks (and 60 seconds by car) North of Randolph St, I find the zone system galling when I am trying to get home quickly or late at night from downtown. I'd be happy if as someone said the "Ward 4 tax" was mitigated by moving the zone boundary North of my house. But cabs can be a bargain when travelling within the huge expanse of Zone 1. So I don't know what the best and overall fairest solution is!

I also agree that the per person charge is just wrong.

As for the number of cabs in DC, It's my understanding that DC actually has one of the highest number of cabs per capita of any US city. But because the cabbies are independent operaters rather than being employees of a cab company (there are a few exceptions), they set their own schedules, decide where within the city they want to drive, and most do not have radios so cannot be dispatched (which is why you can't easily get one to come to Petworth to pick you up).

In short, DC has the most ragtag and unprofessional taxi system of any major city in the US. I've gone to events where the chair of DC's Taxi Commission has said as much. But the drivers are very fixed in their ways and defensive about the system that provides them with so much independence and flexibility, and other members of the taxi commission agree, so DC keeps the status quo.

Mr. 14th & You said...

"Why, so that they can sit in traffic, in a cab, while the meter ticks away? A normally $5 dollar cab ride could turn into a $10 cab ride."

What taxi cab company are you using that allows you to catch a ride for $5? Minimum charge is $6.50, along with the $1 fuel surcharge. Add in the fact that I'm frequently taking a cab with my wife (thus a $1.50 surcharge) and a tip, and the average ride for us costs between $11-$12. And that's assuming we stay in one zone.

"There is a solution: it's called the 60 bus."

Assuming a) your destination is somewhere along its route, and b) you don't mind taking twice as long to reach your destination.

theneighbor said...

Ok Mr. "14th"

I just picked a numbe, ($5), to make a point. Having lived in two major cities that are meter cab cities. I am saying the zones are better ( in MY opinion)although not that different in cost than meter cabs.

Getting meter cabs wont necessarily make your ride cheaper. Most meter cities I have been in make up the difference with "extra person charges", "fule charges", "luggage handeling charges", "grocery handeling charges" or any other thing they can think up. Don't forget the tip!

I'm just sayin'

odentex said...

Demanding meters and a "professional" taxi fleet and DC could end up like Houston: three large cab companies, hardly any available cabs, and outrageous rates.

You think it's hard to get a cab in Petworth? HA HA HA. You just don't know what hard is. Try waiting an average of 45 minutes to an hour a mere 10 minutes from downtown... in a city with no mass transit alternatives.

You think having less small ownership is going to make for better driving and better cars? HA HA HA. Yeah, those large operations are known for their cost-is-no-object spending on safety and driver training and screening.

DC cabs are CHEAP and VERY plentiful in my experience -- and even if you have to go through a few zones it's still generally cheaper than a metered car in some cities where a "short" ride will cost you $20 and a long ride might empty your savings. Competition among all the different little cab companies seems to be a good thing, and if they can't make a guaranteed $7.50 they are going to be forced out. Those of you that think you are going to have $5 cab rides with meters are nuts and forget all the "extras" that get added on even if you ride one block. That DuPont to Adams Morgan ride will still cost you $10 (or more) with meters -- assuming you can find a cab once yellow and checker have made this market more "efficient".

Regarding the bus taking twice as long: depends on where you are going. If you are just headed to the nearest metro station it's really no big thing and it is definitely waaaaay cheaper.

odentex said...

the neighbor: "fule charge"? Is that a special charge for residents of Virginia? Sounds good.

Contrary to Mr. T's repeated admonishments (via A-Team broadcasts) as a yoof, I simply don't pity the fools in VA. Tax 'em till their dry for the privilege of using our roads and then ban them from the District once they've paid up.

Also, we ought to periodically cross over and set fire to some of their bumpkin towns... just so's they know we mean business and haven't gone soft. ;)

I'd say the same for that other state too, but just saying it's name makes me all sleepy and bored... Mary... ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

the neighbor said...

odentex: dunno, fuel charge is a term mr. 14th used. I was just repeating it, but hey I am all for extra charging people from the hate-state.

reuben said...

erin-you hit the nail on the head! beautifully stated!