To "Protect Consumers" DCTC Wants Taxicabs to Use Digital Meters

by Sean Riley


CityPaper

CityPaper reports --  " Taking a taxi in D.C. could soon become less of an anxiety-inducing experience for riders worried about proper fares." 

The D.C. Taxicab Commission—which oversees thousands of traditional taxis, limos, paratransit vehicles, and private sedans in the District—has put out a notice seeking software-makers that would be able to design digital meters for its roughly 44,000 drivers. The initiative is part of a larger endeavor to "modernize taxis but also expand economic opportunities" for those drivers and their companies, according to DCTC spokesperson Neville Waters. A couple of weeks ago, for example, DCTC launched an Uber-like app for riders to hail cabs at the push of a few buttons.

"In an effort to protect consumers and provide more transparency in fare calculation, DCTC is seeking a contractor to provide a digital meter software application for for-hire vehicles and drivers regulated by DCTC," the notice, published in the D.C. Register, reads.

Waters says standardized digital meter software would help integrate the new ride-hailing app with existing in-vehicle equipment so that customers could be more confident in their tallied fares. The system would be required to be able to transmit trip data such as geotagged addresses, driver information, and fare amounts to DCTC. It would also be required to have the "capability of calculating rideshare or group riding rates such that each additional passenger pays less than the total amount s/he would have paid if travelling by themselves." (Uber, Lyft, and Split already boast such a feature.)

DCTC, however, may be looking even further beyond of ride-share capabilities. "The digital meter will not be for only taxis but all vehicles for hire including autonomous vehicles when they arrive," Waters says. Driverless taxi, anyone?