Monday, March 10, 2008


Dear Mad DC Cabbie,

I have a question I'm hoping you can answer, because I can't find an answer anywhere and it's driving me nuts! What's the rule in DC for passengers that get out of the cab at 2 different locations?

A few nights ago I got into a cab at 28th & Calvert NW with my husband and a friend. My friend got out at 10th & M, and me and my husband got out 7 blocks later at 10th & E. The driver insisted that we all pay full fare from 28th & Calvert - my friend paid $9.80 when she got out, and then he made us pay an additional $11.30 when we got out! So the driver actually got paid twice for the first part of the trip (from 28th & Calvert to 10th & M), and made $21.10 for a 2-zone trip. This seemed like a huge rip-off to us, and we tried to argue that it didn't make sense, but the driver told us he out-ranked us so what could we do?

After reading the rules posted on the DC Taxi Cab Commission website, I think the correct calculation should have been $9.80 for the 2-zone trip + $3 for the 2 additional passengers + $1 for making a stop along the way - a one-time charge of $13.80, due at the end of the ride.

Or, if the driver insisted on treating it like 2 separate trips (which I still think is a rip-off), the only way it makes sense is if he charges the first passenger $12.80 for the frist 2-zone trip (from 28th & Calvert to 10th & M, with 3 passengers in the cab), and then charges me and my husband $7.50 for the second 1-zone trip (from 10th & M to 10th & E). That's still $20.30 for a 2-zone ride . . . I don't think that's what the DC Taxi Cab Commission intended when it wrote the rules, but it makes a LITTLE bit more sense than pretending it was 2 separate trips from 28th & Calvert and charging us twice.

If you could help me understand this, I would really appreciate it!


Hi Becca,

It's a very good question and you are not the only one! It drives lots of people nuts! I do have a surprise answer for you. Your driver is right!

The driver actually was completely honest with you guys! The DCTC law states that if passengers have different destination it is considered two separate fares starting from the ORIGINAL PICKUP POINT. The driver is 100% correct by charging your friend the full $9.80 (Two zones to 10th and M) and also charged you and your husband $11.30 (Two zones plus extra passenger surcharge) and the total of $21.10 is exactly right.

It is set up that way so people can't take advantage and abuse the flat based zone system by riding in groups and have the driver drop them all over the place with in the same zone for just an extra $1.50 per passenger. Let me give you a scenario: Let's say you and your four other friends were picked up from 28th and Calvert by Mad Cabbie (God Forbid) after a party and all five of you have 5 different destination; first fare: 21st and Mass, 2nd fare: 19th and E, 3rd fare: 15th and K , 4th fare:10th and E and the 5th fare ends up near Union Station....All of these drop off points are within a second zone even though I was all over downtown! And if this run is considered one run it will only pays me $15.80 ($9.80 plus $6.00 for four extra passenger surcharge) since we don't have a running meter to account for all those time consuming detours. That is the reason why different destination are separate fares. But as long as you have the same pickup point and same destinations, no matter the size of the group it is one fare plus the extra passenger surcharge.

I know it's a pain in the ass but that's how it is, DC cabbies dream of these kind of fares especially during the weekends where group rides with different stops are plenty. Passengers feel that they are being ripped off, but legally I can charge $49 (9.80 times 5 passengers) for the above scenario I created.

The fare calculator doesn't have the program to calculate multiple leg trips, thats why you got the incorrect fare total. Pretty soon we all don't have to worry about the zones anymore although I doubt they will manage to have all DC cabs equipped with meters by April 6th. The inefficient DC goverment don't have any private shops certified yet for the meter installment process.

I hope I have answered your question.

Please don't forget the homeless,

Mad Cabbie


Anonymous said...

I have a corollary question. Years ago when I was studying at GW (please don't judge) My girlfriend and I got a cab going from 18th and H to Japone in Dupont (R and 23rd? again please don't judge we were young and the weather was cold). Between that stop we asked the cabbie to pick up a friend just north of Washington Circle, which is, of course, on the route. The cabbie wanted us to pay more than $22 for picking up the second passenger en route. Is that legit? I get your point about multiple dropoffs, but wouldn't picking someone up just count as a stop?

PS I love your blog

Anonymous said...

Great blog!! Any idea when you'll be writing about your trip to Ethiopia? Thanks!

Mad Cabbie said...

Even with the current rate (which is much higher than years ago) the fare should be $16.50!

Unfortunately a second pick up is a separate fare regardless the convenient location of the second pickup. That driver was dishonest though!

Take care.

Mad Cabbie said...

After my trip from Ethiopia I got ill (nothing to do with the trip) and was admitted in the hospital for some time, after that I kind of lost interest to write about the trip. But I do have one story to tell that is very interesting and funny! I will post it in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your prompt reply. I look forward to reading the story about.

Quick question: what would you do if two cabbies refuse to give you a ride, and both incidents happen on the same day?! One rolled up the window while I was talking to him (he was sitting in his cab by a hotel in downtown) and a couple of hours later on Pennsylvania Ave
NW, the other one ignored me and stopped for a white lady who was standing 200ft away down the road. The irony was that they are both Ethiopian and so am I.

If any black person out there had a similar problem with foreign- born cabbies, please understand that, some of my compatriots (and fellow third world immigrants) suffer more from an inferiority complex vis a vis the white man than racism towards blacks. A problem that's amplified by the fact that most african americans live in the relatively less safe NE and SE quadrants of the city and most of the crimes committed in the city are committed by blacks (67 % of DC's population is black and the poverty rate is higher among this group so afortiori it's "understandable" that most of the crimes are commited by blacks). Some immigrants don't see things the same way and perpetuate the seterotype and unfortunately some African Americans are no better than they are.

For those who are interested in reading about the historical relations between African Americans and Ethiopia, please check out:




Anonymous said...

Zebra, you have more than one story to tell about our Ethiopian Millennium trip. I am so disappointed as I always tell you that you didn't even post those pictures!

I hope you'll write about your personal Ethiopian cabbie " Ato Tameru" in Addis Ababa.


Roy irish taxi said...

I had three young girls in the cab down from the country for a gig, their first driver charged them the meter fare each 3 x €12=€36!

Hey DC! I'm pushing my luck here but could you change my link to the new address...thanks!

Anonymous said...

From what I know you are allowed 6 blocks. I have gone three in VA (where it shouldn't matter) because everything is based on distance and the cab driver tried to charge us twice plus the fuel surcharge, which is not allowed for trips to VA. Its dishonesty like this that gives all the cabbies a bad name.