I rode in a Unity Cab last night via a forced shared taxi setup at Union Station. It seemed like a good idea when the dispatcher started grouping riders by location, especially as the line of people waiting for a taxi grew: group shared taxi = lower costs all around, right? Unfortunately, my taxi driver broke the law when he did not reset his meter after each dropoff. Worse, when I questioned him about the fare, he lied to me, insisting that Union Station fares are an ‘exception’ to the law. Even though I asked, I still paid almost the full fare but instantly regretted this (at 1 am, who really wants to get in an argument with a taxi driver, even if they are in the right?).
Looking online, this seems to be a pretty entrenched operation at Union Station not limited to Unity Taxi – other taxis do it too, and have been for a while. What’s annoying is that they probably get away with it most of the time, especially late at night and with out of towners.
As soon as I got home, I confirmed what I already suspected: If you’re forced to share a taxi, or even if you share one with a friend, the cabbie is required by law to reset the meter each time a passenger gets out. No exceptions or exemptions. And, you can decline to share a taxi with other passengers.
I wrote to Mary Cheh (on the transportation committee) who forwarded my note to Ron Linton, the Taxi Commissioner. No matter what happens at the city council level though, I want to do what I can to raise awareness of this lousy practice. I admit that I cringe almost every time I get in a DC taxi, expecting the driver will come up with some extra fee for something totally arbitrary – it’s extremely rare that I ever encounter an honest cabbie in this city.
In the meantime, I’m curious if anyone else has experienced this, or another form of taxi scam in DC?”