New Taxi Cab Fare Structure Announced

$4 to start, $0.25 per sixth of a mile traveled.

Some sample fares to give examples. I’ve used Google Maps to get the route taken, recognizing that perhaps other mapping utilities may use different routes, and that DC cabbies may well get you lost and not know where the heck they’re going. Old Fare is calculated using the website’s Taxi Fare Calculator, recognizing that DC Cabbies may lie to you about how many zones you actually traversed.

Union Station to Georgetown: 5.3 Miles

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New Fare: $11.75
Old Fare: $8.80 or 11.00 depending on whether or not they count the line as inside the zone or across it.

Metro Center to Adams Morgan: 2.2 Miles

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New Fare: $7.25
Old Fare: $8.80

National Zoo to New DC Stadium: 5.6 Miles

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New Fare: $12.25
Old Fare: $11

Branch & Pennsylvania to Catholic Univ.: 7.7mi

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New Fare: $15.25
Old Fare: $14.00

I dunno what the heck the cabbies are all pissed about, this looks like a raise to me…

22 Comments so far

  1. Mike Licht (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 5:49 pm

    Cabbies are upset because all their trips will now be on the books, and they won’t be able to pick up second fares with a fare already in the cab. Zone fares records are handwritten manifests so cash can simply disappear, as far as the taxman is concerned.

    None of their other anti-meter blather holds water.

  2. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 5:57 pm

    This does sound like cabbies upset for greedy reasons, which means they get 0 sympathy from me.

  3. PSolus (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 10:16 pm


    I too am shocked that the cabbies are thinking only of their own interests, unlike the passengers, who are against zones so that poor people of the world can eat, global warming can be reversed, and the baby jebus can stop crying.

  4. Opus (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 7:42 am

    Remembering my first time to DC years ago and never having seen the zone system before, how was I to know what I should have been charged for. I learned my lesson and was much smarter the second time around. One can only imagine how many tourists are ripped off by not knowing the zones.

    In a day when you can’t trust anyone, the meter is the way to go.

  5. Wayan (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 8:22 am

    I did the calcs and for me its a wash. My 3.5 mile trip is now 3 zones $11 and under meters would be around $10. Now my preferred path home – via Rock Creek Park – would jump up to $12. The price for speed.

  6. poo poo (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 8:32 am

    hey tom, you forgot about the $1 surcharge during morning/evening rush hour. so… the fees will be a bit different depending on the times of your mapped commutes.

  7. Tom (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 8:43 am

    You’re missing the part about the 25 cent / minute extra charge when you are stopped in traffic or going slower than 10 mph. This is why meters will be worse than the zone system, where you didn’t have to sit there and watch as the meter rings you up for moving nowhere.

  8. Don (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 8:50 am

    Everyone’s out for their own interests, Psolus, but the difference is that the meters will (theoretically) have a regulatory agency that will check to see they’re accurate. The zone system is entirely honor-based and puts a disparate amount of power in the hands of the cabbies. While there are some passenger zone ninjas it’s just unrealistic to expect tourists or highly occasional riders like myself to know the subtleties.

  9. Chris L (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 10:05 am

    Thumbs up to Tom Bridge for doing his homework before posting. I’m so sick of Wayan’s "This-sucks-because-I-say-so" posts.

  10. PSolus (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

    I disagree Don,

    With a zone system, one can perform due diligence and determine exactly how much a ride costs, and ensure that that is what the driver will charge you before you even get in the cab.

    With a meter system, each ride is a crap shoot; all one can do is get in the cab, and then pay whatever the meter says at the end of the trip. And what the meter says can easitly be manipulated by the driver, but not by the passenger.

    The one good thing that may come of the meter system is that with it, it is to the drivers advantage to drive at or below the speed limit, actually stop for stop signs, not run yellow and red lights, not turn left in front of oncoming traffic, and to slow down and yield for pedestians.

  11. Don (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 12:48 pm

    The due diligence you speak of requires a knowledge not only of the locale and the route but the location of arbitrary zone boundaries. As someone who is in a cab less than a dozen times in a year this isn’t worth my learning and is beyond my remembering. Trying to decipher it from the map in the cab is difficult in normal light, impossible at night. Further, once you get to your location you potentially are in an unprovable argument with a cabbie about crossed zone boundaries.

    This is just not a reasonable expectation for the majority of the cab using population. I’m sorry if some small group of zone ninjas feel disadvantaged by this system, but the city’s regulatory agencies should be exerting an effort to serve the interests of the majority without notably penalizing the minority. And not being able to shave a buck off your fare once in a while by holding arcane knowledge can by no stretch of the imagination be considered being penalized.

  12. PSolus (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

    I have never found figuring cab fares the least bit difficult.

    But at any rate, that is how the world works; those who learn generally do better than those who are unable or unwilling to learn.

    Those who live their lives learning, and using that knowledge, generally do better than those who live their lives based on ignorance, superstition, and luck.

    There isn’t a meter in this world that can level that playing field.

  13. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

    This system puts everyone, locals and tourists, on the same footing, and I think that’s a good thing. The global paradigm for taxi-cabs in modern culture is the meter. That’s known from anyone who’s ever seen a movie where a cab’s shown. The meter is a cultural norm, and departing from it puts only those who use the new system frequently on equal footing with the cabbies.

    I’m all for trying to deliver fairness where it’s possible to do so. This is one place where we can make it fair. Why not do it? It seems to only benefit the cabbies.

  14. PSolus (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

    Yes, it puts everyone on the same footing: At the complete mercy of the cab driver.

    With a zone system, the driver makes money by picking up and delivering as many fares as possible in a given time, charging each fare a known rate.

    With a meter system, the driver makes money by keeping each fare in the cab as long as possible, letting the meter tick away by milage and by time.

    There is no incentive for him to avoid getting stuck behind a bus on Wisconsin, or to avoid streets that are constantly congested; the longer it takes to deliver the fare, the more money he can charge that fare at the end of the trip, and he can’t be sure how quickly he will be able get another victim in the cab.

    It’s a lose for the experienced passenger, a lose for the naive passenger, and a win for the cab driver, because it’s much easier to leisurely drive a few people around for larger amounts of money, than it is to quickly drive many people around for smaller amounts of money.

  15. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

    We’re already at the mercy of the cab-driver as it stands, PSolus. Slight corner differential? Oh, that was through a new zone? That’ll be $11 instead of $8.80. Don’t tell me that doesn’t happen.

    Cabbies will still be inclined to get people where they need to go, because their business is predicated on moving people around quickly and efficiently, zones or meters. Take fewer fares, make less money. This way, they also make money off sitting in traffic and not driving like freaking maniacs, which benefits everyone.

    There’s every incentive to get out behind that bus, safely, mind you, because that means they can pick up another fare, and another minimum $4. Now, more than ever, they need MORE fares if they’re going to make the same wages, or they need longer fares.

  16. Don (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 2:41 pm

    For someone so big on learning (and let me tell you, my eyes still hurt from rolling them when reading your previous message) you seem to be completely bereft of math competence.

    The base $4 fare gives a cabbie a significant incentive to turn over passengers. You make the claim that they can’t be sure he’ll get another person in the cab, but that’s true whether he races to a destination or coasts.

    So, for any given minute of time a cabbie can be:

    Being paid to not more, or move under 10mph: $0.25
    Traveling 1/4 mile, assuming 15mph: $0.375
    Traveling 1/2 mile, assuming 30mph: $0.75
    Traveling 1 mile, assuming 60mph: $1.50

    In other words, your position is completely nonsensical and not borne out by fact.

  17. PSolus (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 3:26 pm


    Sorry about your eyes; I didn’t know that rolling them could be that painful.

    But, then, I never roll my eyes, being that I’m not a 12-year-old girl.

  18. PSolus (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 3:35 pm


    Again, I disagree; the driver is not guaranteed another fare when he drops one off–there’s a bit of "a bird in hand" feeling going on once the fare gets in the cab.

  19. Don (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 4:08 pm

    The only person with that feeling is you, Psolus. I don’t know how much more clear it can be made for you that a longer time is less advantageous for the cabbie.

    Additionally, the cabbie knows that sooner or later the fare is going to get out of his/her cab and s/he is going to have to wait for another one. That interval is going to be there if the cabbie empties the cab now, in five minutes, or in an hour. Losing money – as going deliberately slower would, which was demonstrated very clearly to you above – in order to delay that moment makes no sense at all.

  20. PSolus (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

    If the cabbie empties the cab now, he gets what is showing on the meter right now.

    If he manages to somehow keep the current fare in the cab for another five minutes, he gets that amount, plus at least $1.25.

    And, if he somehow manages to keep the current fare in the cab for another hour, he gets that original amount, plus at least $15.00.

    However, if he empties the cab now, and does not get another fare within five minutes, he does not get that $1.25.

    And, if he empties the cab now, and doesn’t get another fare for an hour, he doesn’t get that $15.00.

    It’s easier to squeeze money from the person currently in the cab, than it is to squeeze money from someone who may never even get in the cab.

  21. MBFan#2 (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 5:11 pm

    I am for one very HAPPY about metered cabs. At least I know how much I will pay in whichever cab I get into – I don’t like the feeling of being taken for a ride when one driver charges me $2+ than another. Also, it allows me to leave a tip to show my gratitude, rather than believe that the driver has already factored in his tip in the amount he tells me at the end of the ride.

  22. DC Residents for Reasonable Taxi Fares (unregistered) on November 9th, 2007 @ 5:16 pm

    Mayor Fenty last week revealed that DC cabs will have the highest fares in the country. We are working to urge the Mayor to reconsider this plan and institute a more reasonable rate, in line with other cities around the country. If you agree that a $4 initial charge is too high and should be no more than the $2.50 rate most other cities have, please take action!

    1) Sign an online petition at

    2) Email the DC Taxicab Commission ( and CC: Mayor (, Chairman Jim Graham (

    Or click here and we’ll send one for you!

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