Monday, July 7, 2008

Reasons to Be Car Free in DC #6: Real Taxis!

If you ever want to stalk meet me, come to the Black Cat on Friday or Saturday night. I'm the guy sitting at the bar, or dancing, or possibly watching the show. On later nights (earlier mornings), especially during the winter, I like to take a cab home to Mount Pleasant. Before June of this year, that meant walking up to U and 14th Streets and then waiting for an empty cab to come by, fighting off women in heels (cabbies tend to pass me up for them) and dodging aggressive drivers who obviously aren't thinking about pedestrian cross walk rights. I could have caught one in front of the Black Cat, but that meant paying for two zones as the zone barrier was U Street. That ride was $9.80 (including the gas surcharge, which is still in effect). With any sort of tip (I always do) the trip was gauranteed to cost more than $10.00. Would the meters be more affordable? I'll spare you the suspense: YES.

After June 1 when the District began enforcing the change to metered fare, I've taken cabs more often across the board. Its now reasonable for me to take a cab to a get-together if I'm running late, to Union Station to avoid lugging my bags on the Metro, and to home from a night out on the town. These are all everyday activities I avoided hailing cab for before the switch. That $9.80 ride home using the zone system cost me $6.75 using the meter. The drop rate, or inital charge, was $3.00. Mount Pleasant is only about 1.5 miles from 14th and T Streets, so the mileage only cost an additional $2.25. We barely stopped and hit all the green lights perfectly, so we idled for only a few seconds the whole ride (the idling rate is $15 per hour; do the math). Add in the $1.00 gas surcharge and the fare came to $6.75. Sorry if you disagree, but I think that's more fair than the arbitrary zone rate of nearly $10.00. Also, for those who live further afield, think about using cabs more; the maximum fare within the District is now $19.00. Not that meters will cause any of you to give up your cars, but having another affordable option to get around town certainly makes it easier to live in DC without one.