Thursday, October 18, 2007


After 30 years of debates and bureaucracies the District government, thanks to mayor Fenty made the final decision to install meters in DC cabs and bring us back to civilization. The present zone system which could be very confusing to most passengers is going to be a thing from the past. In a zone fare system you could end up paying much more for short rides than those long rides which can take double amount of time. In another word people who ride those short trip are subsidizing the longer rides.

If you ask yourself the question what kind of passengers who typically ride these two types of fares, my twenty plus years of experience as a cab driver in Washington points out that it all boils down to racial and income line. Majority of the DC residents are African Americans and majority of those are low income and when you look at the white demographics it’s completely the opposite as you may know already, I am probably the only poor white person in Washington who doesn’t have a trust fund. Those expensive short rides are frequented by professional white passengers and majority of those longer relatively inexpensive trips are made by low income African Americans who can’t afford to tip their drivers.

So what’s the outcome is going to be from the mayor’s decision? People can have the feeling that they are not getting ripped off by some dishonest cab drivers even though they are going to end up more for their fares in most cases because of the combination of the time and distance meters and Washington’s hell traffic. I really don’t understand the dumb ass cab drivers who object to the idea of meters because the cab drivers are those who are going to come up as winners as the new system brings in a higher mileage rate, getting paid for sitting in traffic and more passengers who didn’t trust the zone system before. The losers? Low income African Americans who work in the city and live across the bridge in south east or deep north east who can not afford the meter which calculates distance and time like their white counterparts can. Is it fare? I don’t know! but what I know for sure is it’s not the responsibility of the private cab industry to bring affordable transportation to some city residents.

Fortunately or unfortunately we live in the capitalist mecca of the world we call the United States of America and we don’t give a shit about our poor, elderly or the sick. So people in Anacostia, I can understand that you might be pissed off at mayor Fenty but at the same time I would start flipping over those bus schedule again because there is nothing you or the cab drivers strike can do anymore, It’s pretty much a done deal.

And for you whittie transplant DC resident who were crying over the zone system all these years, I am pretty sure even with the meters installed you will find something to cry about! Like “You took me the long way!” "Is that meter working correctly?” “I don’t like the cologne you wearing!” because most of you out there are natural born cry babies! We shall see and time will tell us all.

Take care,

Pastor Joe.


Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective on the switch. I knew I'd find one here.

june in florida said...

Pastor you can put the meter on time or not its up to you right?Reg fares i would not time, just go the fastest route whether it was longer or not and charge the short route fare. That way fare was happy and i could get on to the next job quicker. Course it depends on how close your monitored, meter etc.You don't make money on time when its busy.How is Mad?

Kelly said...

You're the first driver I've heard say anything positive about the switch. I'm a fellow low income white, and I haven't taken more than 4-5 rides over the past few years because 1) they are so expensive (I live just north of the Florida/U zone line, so always pay 2+ zones for short trips), and 2) I haven't encountered many honest drivers and it's easier to walk the distance alone at night and pray not to get mugged (young female) than to sit tensely waiting for the inevitable hagglefest over how many zones we actually went through.

Now hopefully I'll be able to take taxis again and, ::gasp::, enjoy it!

Don't worry, I'm a great tipper to honest drivers.

Anonymous said...

You remark that, "I am probably the only poor white person in Washington who doesn’t have a trust fund." No, you're not. What a wrong and ignorant thing to throw out there.

It's also inane to frame the DC cab system as somehow a positive force in income redistribution for poor blacks.

1. The DC cap system is notorious for passing up blacks trying to hail cabs. So, those cheap runs you're describing created an economic incentive to further the racist habit of driving past black customers. (Tips are loosely linked to a % of the cab ride cost, so the zone system made those long drives low cost, low tip, long time commitments.)

2. Tourism doesn't distribute wealth evenly--it benefits the wealthy more than the poor. But it does still benefit everyone to some degree. (As an old Marxist scholar and friend of mine once pointed out, the only thing worse than being exploited is when no one wants to exploit you.)

In the economic system we've got, low-income folks--who are already living paycheck to paycheck--get hit the dearest when tourism dollars dry up. They're a large % of the tourism workforce, they're the first to be let go during the slow seasons, and they're the ones who are already on the razor's edge of being able to meet their basic human needs.

Having a frustrating and customer-hated cab system undermines tourism, and that undercuts a great many folks who really rely on the business staying good.

Anonymous said...

If you live in VA or MD, it's always a deterrent with the zone system, because you *never* know how much it's really going to be. Too many times I've had and heard of cab drivers changing their quote.