The DC taxi lottery

Or more precisely, “how much will I get charged today?” I don’t think there’s anything more frustrating than the crap-shoot style pricing the DC cabbies seem to employ. Yes, I know – the fares are listed on the Escher-esque map on the back of the seat.

Know what would be really helpful? A list of intersections or circuitous routes that cabbies use to clip the corner of another zone to jack the fare. Maybe even something wallet-sized, or on a webpage accessible by phone or blackberry. Now that come in handy…

8 Comments so far

  1. wayan (unregistered) on May 10th, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

    Here is a key misconception you may have from your “clip the corner of another zone to jack the fare” comment – fares are calculated on origin & destination, NOT route or distance.

    If a cabbie picks you up at the White House in Zone 1 and drives to RFK before dropping you off at Ben’s Chili Bowl on the north side of U Street in Zone 2B, the fare is $8.80. You can use the handy DC Taxi Fare Calculator to check:
    Taxis are also required to carry a Zone Chart which shows you the price between certain sub-zones.

    The problem is that the same route above, but a drop-off on the south side of U Street, at the U Street Metro station for example, would be a $6.50 ride within Zone 1. The 40 feet of the invisible U Street Zone boundry jacks up the fare $1.30.

  2. chris (unregistered) on May 11th, 2006 @ 9:52 am

    If the cabbie charges you for 2 zones going from the white house to 13th and u, north or south side of u, you got screwed. Both sides of border streets are considered to be in both zones so that is a 1 zone trip. Believe me, I live on the north side of U.

    Now if he dropped you off on 13th on the north side of the intersection, thats a different story.

  3. wayan (unregistered) on May 11th, 2006 @ 10:08 am

    Chris, I just looked up the actual rule, as I’ve always been told the center of the road is the boundry. Here it is in all its clarity:

    801.11 Any trip originating or terminating on a street designated as a zone or subzone boundary, or at premises having a street address on and being served by a private driveway from the street, shall be considered as originating or terminating in the zone or subzone nearest the point of origin or termination.

    So any lawyers out there wanna rip apart this poorly written rule?

  4. Stop_smell_the_Potomac (unregistered) on May 11th, 2006 @ 10:12 am

    Yes the zone chart shows the price within DC but if you live out in Arlington or further, they use another rate chart to determine the fare but NOT ALL CABBIES carry this.

    As a matter of principal, one late (but weather-wise, nice) night, I was trying to procure a cab to take me back to Courthouse in Arlington and 4 out of 4 didn’t have one. AND everyone quoted me a fare with a variance of $3(+/-). WTF? Why isn’t there a standard price?

    We really need to put meters in DC cabs!!!

    Maybe we should boycott cabs at night? Ply designated drivers with free game of pool and darts and non-alcoholic drinks – people who need a ride, donate $2-$5 for gas. Maybe the cabbies will see how much their business will hurt then!

  5. Chris (unregistered) on May 11th, 2006 @ 10:24 am

    The rule, while definitely in a bit of legalese, is fairly clear:

    “Any trip originating or terminating on a street designated as a zone or subzone boundary”
    If you begin or end on a zone boundary….

    “shall be considered as originating or terminating in the zone or subzone nearest the point of origin or termination.”
    You get the benefit of the boundary acting as the zone closest to where you started.

  6. wayan (unregistered) on May 11th, 2006 @ 11:06 am

    “originating or terminating” + “point of origin or termination.” = confusion.

  7. wayan (unregistered) on May 11th, 2006 @ 11:07 am

    And in confusion, cabbies always go for the next Zone.

  8. Chris (unregistered) on May 11th, 2006 @ 11:35 am

    Then argue with them. I do and it usually works. The system sucks, because it forces you to know the rules. This is bad, especially for visitors, but you’re a local, learn the rules and use them.

    And the key word in the final sentence of the reg. is “nearest.” Nearest works for the passenger, not the cabbie.

    Sorry, feeling bitchy today.

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