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DC Taxicab Commission Provides District Taxicabs with Electronic Hailing

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Universal DC taxiapp will level competitive marketplace

Contact: Neville Waters (202) 645-6020

The DC Taxicab Commission (DCTC) today took action to allow all District taxicabs to utilize electronic hailing through an app provided to their own industry organization. The app is being developed by the DCTC technical staff and will be given to an industry co-op to manage and market.

The regulation adopted will require the more than 7,000 District taxicabs with a handheld device with an app that will give public the opportunity to hail rides electronically. This rulemaking will give the District’s taxicab industry a tool to compete with Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). The Universal DC TaxiApp, which is the first of its kind, will begin beta testing in March, 2015.

While drivers can use other digital dispatch services, the Universal DC TaxiApp will be mandated to be in operation when a taxi licensed by DCTC is on-duty. The industry co-op will set the charges, manage its operation and be responsible to market the service to the public. The app will offer riders the flexibility to pay by pre-loading their credit card information; to pay by credit card in the vehicle; or to pay with cash. The authorization to accept street hails would remain exclusively with taxis and still be subject to the metered fare.

DCTC also approved the final adoption of a series of rulemakings. Operators will be allowed to form a new Modern Taxicab Association (MTA) under the provision that they will use the most fuel efficient wheelchair accessible vehicles available. Operators that transition to these types of vehicles will be granted a Transferable Vehicle License. Clarification to the Vehicle Retirement Program will enable vehicle owners the opportunity to seek a waiver of the requirement to replace equipment under certain conditions. Rules were modified regarding the terminology referencing “sedans” as “black cars” and allow the designation of these vehicles as smoking or non-smoking.

DCTC Chairman Ron M. Linton, in his final meeting as Chairman, encouraged the industry to direct efforts to eliminating poor performing drivers that are turning people away from using taxis. The attention to customer service will be a key to the public vehicle for hire industry maintaining its economic viability and competitiveness in the local marketplace.

Chairman Linton also set in motion the consideration to develop a benefits program for drivers to include retirement, life, disability and health insurance. The public vehicle for hire industry will have to proceed to deal with the complexity of establishing and administering the benefits program.

Among the other action taken by DCTC was the approval to publish proposed rulemaking to: offer incentives for transitioning to fuel efficient wheelchair accessible vehicles that will allow longer service years and provide a Transferable Taxicab License to these owners; set a quota on Vehicle Licenses; reduce certain fees; and create a Community Van Service pilot program.