Photos courtesy of the Mayor’s office
From a press release:
Mayor Vincent C. Gray today announced that he is sending to the D.C. Council a proposed contract with VeriFone Systems, Inc., to install a Taxicab Smart Meter System in all of the District’s licensed cabs before the end of the year. The system will allow payment of fares by credit cards, driver verification, safety-response mechanisms, GPS tracking and other advanced features.
“The Taxicab Smart Meter System will make Washington’s taxicabs among the most advanced taxi fleets in the country,” said Mayor Gray. “It is another step toward bringing the District’s taxicab fleet into the 21st century. I ask the Council for a speedy approval of this contract, which will benefit drivers, riders and the general public.”
Under the $34.9 million contract, the District will lease the system for five years from VeriFone, which will install, maintain and operate it. Details of the system were developed by technical consultants for the D.C. Taxicab Commission.
The cost for installing the system as well as the operating costs of the D.C. Taxicab Commission will be paid for from a trust fund supported by a 50-cent-per-ride surcharge. The only cost to drivers will be a small installation fee. Under this user-fee system, general tax revenues will no longer be used for any Commission costs. This will save almost $4 million from the District’s general fund. It also means that the approximately 50 percent of riders who are not District residents will now be able to pay a share of the costs of administrating the taxicab industry and no longer ride on the pocketbooks of our residents.
The Mayor also pointed out that this is the second major step in the District’s comprehensive taxi-modernization program. The first was the adoption by the Taxicab Commission of a vehicle-modernization regulation to phase out all vehicles more than seven years old by 2018.
Additional changes to the District’s taxicab fleet to be phased in over the next few months include a one-color scheme and a substantial increase in the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles.