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DC Taxicab Commission Responds to Customer Demands

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Proposals will require electronic hails for taxi service and create driver benefits program

Media Contact: Neville Waters (202) 645-6020; neville.waters2@dc.gov

The DC Taxicab Commission (DCTC) offered a proposal in response to customer service demands by mandating that all the 7,000 plus taxicabs licensed by DCTC adopt the “One City One Taxi” app for electronic hailing. DCTC will also introduce a proposal to create a benefits program for drivers of public vehicles to include retirement, disability care, life insurance and medical coverage.

“Part of the statutory responsibility of the Commission is to ensure the economic feasibility of the public vehicle for hire industry,” DCTC Chairman Ron M. Linton said. “Thus we believe it is imperative to allow the industry to be able to compete fairly. It is also up to the industry to take responsibility for their business to provide high quality customer service.”

The proposals are intended to level the competitive marketplace and meet the need to better serve customers. In addition to the One City One Taxi app and the benefits program, Chairman Linton outlined a proposal for a neighborhood van service. This service would operate within specified geographic areas for a fixed fare regardless of the length of the ride. The service would also use a wheelchair accessible vehicle that could accommodate up to six wheelchair riders or seven ambulatory passengers or various combinations thereof.

The app would be donated to DCTC and made available for free to all metered vehicles. While taxis would not be prohibited from using other apps the One City One Taxi app would be required in all taxis. It would have the added benefit of allowing riders to pay with their credit card on file, or pay for the specific ride by cash or credit card in the vehicle. This app would be a significant benefit to consumers and efficiently allow taxis to be summoned.

The present circumstance for many drivers compels them to work in this stressful industry and deal with the increasing intensity of managing traffic for an extended period of time. Thus, the safety of both riders and rivers is at risk. The benefits program would address the concern of long term care for the industry work force.

In further response to customer demands DCTC has recently implemented three new initiatives: a 5-day commercial licensing process; a real-time taxi notification system; and the CAPS-DC program as an alternative to MetroAccess.

The 5-day commercial licensing process allows for anyone to walk in, provide the required documentation, complete the application, pay fees and take the exam. The applicant will be advised upon completing the exam if a passing grade was achieved and will be directed to MPD to submit fingerprints for a background check. Once a clean background check is returned the applicant will be able to pick up their commercial license within five days of passing the exam.

The real-time taxi notification will alert taxicabs of large groups seeking rides. This secure system is for use by specific venues only that need service for their customers. The objective is to improve response times and passenger loads.

The CAPS-DC program provides eligible customers with an improved experience by using a standard taxi for direct travel without multiple stops, or if needed priority to ride in a MetroAccess wheelchair accessible vehicle that has been retrofitted for taxi service. Other customer improvements derived from the CAPS-DC program include the ability to make reservations one hour in advance rather than a day ahead; allow a companion to ride to assist customer at no charge and also allow multiple people to travel together to the same destination; and the fare remains $5.00 for customers. The CAPS-DC program will save District taxpayers up to $1.8 million in this first year and increase the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles in the District’s taxi fleet.

Other action for consideration at the General Commission Meeting included votes to approve modifications to the CAPS-DC program; to publish a second proposed rule to amend the Vehicle Modernization Program; and to publish proposed rulemaking regarding dispatch services.