DC Taxis “eliminating outdated traditional meters” by August 31

by Prince Of Petworth May 18, 2017 at 1:40 pm 28 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user andy ward

Ed. Note: I’m told you’ll still be able to use cash or credit card if you prefer.

From a press release:

“In the latest move to bring innovation to the taxi industry and riders of Washington, DC, The Department of For-Hire Vehicles (DFHV) has announced new digital meter solutions within taxis with payments powered by Square. Square’s technology will support the shift to an all-digital platform on a smartphone or tablet, eliminating outdated traditional meters, streamlining the taxi experience and ensuring equitable rates for consumers and drivers.

Washington, DC will be the first major U.S. city to transition to a digital platform setting an example for how the industry can transform in the evolving digital economy. The new digital meters will allow dynamic pricing for passengers hailing taxis from the street, as well as a number of other customer-friendly features such as estimated fare calculations, GPS route tracking and electronic receipts.

“With the move to an all-digital platform from the legacy taximeter and Square’s payment technology, we’ll be able to provide better service for both our customers and drivers who deserve fair rates and the advanced features they have come to expect in our new digital environment,” said DFHV Director Ernest Chrappah.

Square makes it easy for drivers and riders. Drivers will be invited to download one of the approved meter apps by the DFHV. Riders can use whatever payment they wish and simply swipe, dip, or tap at the end of their ride. For tipping, riders can then choose a preset or custom tip and will be sent an electronic receipt via email or text after their ride.

“We’re excited to work with the DFHV to bring new technology to D.C. taxis, providing a better payment experience for drivers and riders alike,” said Carl Perry, Square’s Developer Lead. “Square makes it easy for drivers by offering digital receipts, tipping options, and the ability to accept any form of payment so they never miss a sale.”

All taxi drivers must move to the new digital platform by August 31, 2017, as mandated by the DFHV. Multiple meter apps are expected to be available for use by the drivers. As part of this exciting digital transition of the taxi industry, developers will be able to continue to innovate, allowing for more services and features to be delivered in the future.”

  • inrosedale

    are the drivers complaining about this as much as they did the death of the Zone system? The vast majority of cab drivers in DC in my experience have been cheats and terrible drivers. Thank god lyft exists.

    • But this seems crazy right? There still has to be a way to use cash? What if you don’t own a smartphone?

      • anon

        +1 If we’re reading this correctly, it will exclude people who don’t have smart phones (or credit cards linked to their smart phones). They may not care about lower-income people who don’t have those things, but what about all the tourists from other places in the country who don’t have smart phones?

        • DC_KT

          I think it might just require that the cab driver have a smartphone? I thought the same thing at first (what if you don’t have a phone??) but it also states that drivers will have to download the app, not passengers. Not an amazingly-written press release, that’s for sure.

        • I updated above, they’ll still take cash and credit cards.

    • Carey

      I thought DC cab drivers were bad, until I started using Uber and Lyft regularly. Most of the people driving for those ridesharing services seem to have just learned to operate a motor vehicle and wouldn’t even be able to find their way back home without the use of GPS.

      • Anonymous

        +1. I feel like the days where Uber/Lyft drivers were a cut above cab drivers are behind us. Though I might argue that cab drivers are intentionally awful while Uber/Lyft drivers just don’t know what they’re doing.

      • divebar311

        I’ve noticed mostly Uber X and XL drivers have no idea where they are going even when the GPS is turned on. The best navigators are the Uber Black drivers.

      • jcm

        Agreed. I’ve sworn off UberX and Lyft. If this new system allows me to call a cab as easily as I can call an uber then I’ll be a happy taxi rider. It would save me some money, too, since I’m currently overpaying for UberBlack pickups from my house.

      • Bort

        I’ve had a large/terrifying number of uber x/lyft drivers freely admit both of those things to me. (Also, I am interpreting “learned to operate a motor vehicle” about as loosely as possible here). GPS is the great enabler of brains-free driving.

    • facts

      This is strange. I ride in cabs in DC at least twice a week, often more, and my experience is the ratio of cab drivers who are fine and honest to cab drivers who are incompetent or cheats is about 50:1. The cabs themselves are about 75% filthy rustbuckets but the drivers being cheats or oherwise problematic really isn’t true in my experience.

      • Idontgetit

        I’ve never, never felt a cab driver was trying to cheat me since we went to the fare system.

        • textdoc


      • inrosedale

        Then you must be post-zone in DC. It’s hard to cheat someone on meter, but its not impossible. They don’t do it during the day, but I have caught drivers on numerous occasions on weekends or late nights where they assumed i was not paying attention try to charge me for a second occupant. Back in the zone days they would hit every zone line they could and gouge you as much as possible.

  • Susan

    So no more paying with cash?!?!?

    • That’s what I’m trying to figure out – that seems crazy. I bet that will still be an option.

      • Hill Denizen

        They’ll probably just input that the customer paid in cash at the end of the trip.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t understand the idea of “dynamic pricing for passengers hailing taxis from the street.” Do I hail a cab, have it stop, get a quote and decide whether to take the ride or try to hail another cab?

    • Yeah, this is ridiculously UN-informative. Whoever wrote it should be fired.

    • jonah

      Maybe they mean this is some sort of surge pricing or hailing surcharge if you don’t do it via the app.

    • Hill Denizen

      Yeah, it sounds like they’re trying to be like Uber/Lyft with surge pricing, but with those apps, you know when surge pricing is in effect. Is there going to be a requirement to notify passengers when there’s surge pricing? Will that be enforced? This seems like a prime way for tourists who don’t know the rules and regular rates to get scammed.

  • accendo

    LOL, by August . . . . considering how long it took to get CC processing in the first place, I’m guessing they really mean August 2019.

  • lisavfr

    I agree with Anonymous
    “The new digital meters will allow dynamic pricing for passengers hailing taxis from the street” seems to say “We want to jump on the surge pricing gravy train that Uber and Lyft have!”

  • AnAwfulIdea

    Only electronic receipts? So to get a receipt, I’ll have to enter my email address every time? And once I get the receipt emailed to me, I’ll need to print it out to file in my expense report.? This is a truly awful idea. I didn’t see any issues with the current system.

    • Anonymous

      With food trucks, it seems that as long as I use the same credit card, for which I gave my e-mail address once for the Pho truck, the app they use automatically e-mails me a receipt, including when I buy from other trucks. So obviously, my e-mail is on file, connected to the card.

      • Anon Spock

        That’s true for square generally. You can pay by square somewhere else, and it’ll be sent by email. Hopefully it’ll go the same way.

    • womp

      i think the “truly awful” thing in your scenario is that you have to submit/maintain physical expense reports.

    • Hill Denizen

      That isn’t any different than Uber or Lyft receipts. I prefer that over worrying about losing a receipt or my financial manager questioning whether I submitted it. And yes, Square saves your email and send the receipt automatically or if you submitted a cell phone, gives you or the merchant the option of texting the receipt to the number on file.


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