The Council of the District of Columbia
The Office of Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 10, 2012
Communications Director: Kiara Pesante o: 202-724-8089 c: 202-701-9439
Councilmember Cheh’s Taxicab Reform and Modernization Bill Passes Final Vote
Bill moves to Mayor for signature, then 30-day Congressional review period
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh’s taxicab reform and modernization bill, B19-630, passed its final Council reading with an 11 – 1 vote. The bill provides, before the end of the year, that all taxicabs operating in the District of Columbia will be equipped with a new meter system that accepts debit and credit cards, provide electronic manifest for drivers, support GPS technology with both driver and passenger monitors, and provide a digital map and audio/visual content for passengers. This new technology will also be able to integrate with smart phone applications that link passengers and drivers in a way that is already transforming the way riders are connected with taxicabs.
“This is a great day for the District of Columbia’s hundreds of thousands of residents and millions of annual visitors,” said Councilmember Cheh. “We are finally on our way to bringing the city’s taxi fleet into the 21st century, with technology improvements that will make passengers’ service experience safer, more convenient, and more accessible to all. I look forward to the implementation of these revolutionary reforms in the coming weeks.”
As underserved areas of the District have been of great concern, these new dispatch options will connect passengers and riders in a more efficient way. The GPS data collected will be able to provide key information about what areas of the District taxicabs are and are not servicing. Increased dispatch requirements will create more options for passengers, and a new D.C. Taxicab Commission hotline will connect riders with available dispatch services in the District.
The costs associated with the purchase and installation of the new equipment will be covered by a surcharge on each taxi ride, not to exceed 50 cents, and a reprogramming by the Mayor.
“I am also pleased that the Mayor has transmitted a reprogramming today that will cover the cost of installing the new meters and other equipment,” said Cheh. “Therefore, the only out-of-pocket expense to the drivers will be to purchase a uniform dome light, which has been estimated at between $150 and $200.”
This bill was introduced by Councilmember Cheh and Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) on December 20, 2011. Soon after, Cheh’s office conducted an online survey of District residents, garnering over 4,000 responses. Overwhelmingly, participants rated the District’s taxicabs as ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ in comparison to other major U.S. cities. The Committee on the Environment, Public Works, and Transportation, Chaired by Cheh, held a hearing on January 30th of this year. At its meeting on May 17th, the Committee voted to approve this bill 5-0. The Council voted 9-4 to approve the bill at its June 5th legislative meeting.
Councilmember Cheh has scheduled a public hearing on D.C.’s taxi system for Monday, September 24 at 11 a.m. in the Council Chamber to follow-up on the improvements and review how they are working for the city. Among other things, the hearing will consider how Uber DC and other services can operate in the District.