Monday, July 28, 2008

Commuter Sentences, Special Edition: or, Further Reasons Why Taxis in DC Suck


Okay, since taxis in DC moved to a metered fare system, they don't suck AS MUCH as they used to, but that doesn't make them NOT suck. Witness tonight. Ted organized a small army of people to go to the showing of Arsenic and Old Lace (love it!) at Screen on the Green. I insisted on taking a cab home, because after hearing about my neighbor's break-in and other crimes in my area, it wasn't worth it. Though Ted was going to walk, he figured what the hay, since we LIVE FIVE BLOCKS from each other. Keep that in mind. Five blocks. Barely. So, anyway, we get in the cab, and the driver says something I don't understand. All I knew was that it was something that meant we were going to be paying too much.

For those of you not from DC, let me explain. In normal cities, you get in a cab, the driver sets the meter, and then you get out and pay what's on the meter. You could drive with five people and each go to a different place and at the end of the ride, the fare is paid. Not so in DC. For the longest time, DC had a zone system. In the zone system, you could pay as much as twice as much if you were one block out of a zone. It was crazy. To go 1 mile from Union Station to my house, it would cost $10. The drivers bitched and moaned that everyone except them wanted a meter system. This was because people thought they couldn't be cheated if there were meters. Not so.

In the old system, Ted and I shared a cab once. We ended up EACH spending $20, which we didn't find out until Ted had already been dropped off. 

$3.00 initial fee + $1.00 fuel surcharge + $1.50 passenger fee=$5.50 + fare

The driver informed us he'd "save us" by resetting the meter because normally he would have to charge Ted the full fare and then charge me another additional full fare. WHAT? What is this, an airline? Why, then, wouldn't we get separate cabs? What savings is there in sharing?, when Ted got out, he paid $8.75...actually, I think he gave him $10.

Next, the meter's reset: $3.00 initial fee + $1.00 surcharge=$4.00+ fare

The dude drives me ( the way) the five blocks, which the cheapskate in me for a moment considered walking until I imagined being held up, and I get out and pay $5.00. That's $15 to go a little over a mile. Though scarier, it would have been cheaper to have been mugged. (Or, for that matter, to have driven into work).

This great taxi photo with a pre-meter rant can be found by Wayan Vota on Flickr.

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