Taxicab Commission says Its Latest New regulations will bring the D.C. taxi industry into digital age

by Sean Riley


WashPost

Four years after the District revamped guidelines for the city’s taxis in an effort to modernize the fleet, officials have again issued rules aimed at keeping up with rapidly changing technology.

By the end of summer 2017, the District’s 7,500 taxicabs must have digital meters and offer passengers the convenience of “tap and go” payment using such options as Apple Pay, in addition to credit cards and cash.

Digital platforms are new territory for the U.S. taxi industry, which historically has relied on mechanical meters that require maintenance and frequent calibration.

But as technology-based transportation services become more popular, cities across the United States are switching to smartphone-based systems that integrate GPS-reliant meters and electronic dispatch, payments and navigation.

San Francisco taxis have successfully tested the technology, and a small share of New York taxis are experimenting with “innovative solutions” to modernize that city’s fleet.

The District’s plan to fully transition to digital by Aug. 31, 2017, is an ambitious approach by regulators who say immediate and bold changes are necessary to keep the ailing industry viable, help reduce costs for struggling drivers and improve the rider experience.

The D.C. Department of For-Hire Vehicles has been testing a digital meter system it developed in-house and plans to distribute it to drivers free this fall.

Chairman Ernest Chrappah said the new regulations will significantly cut expenses for drivers who invest roughly $2,400 to outfit their cabs to meet the current requirements, in addition to frequent meter calibrations that cost $50 each. [MORE]