DC considering surge fare rates for taxicab drivers - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

DC considering surge fare rates for taxicab drivers

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For those of you who use a mobile phone to call for a cab, you know it can be easy. But if you do it at a time when not many cars for hire are on the street or it is a holiday, higher prices can be imposed.

But D.C. cab drivers can't charge surge rates because of current law. But now, D.C. city leaders are looking to change that.

Mobile app car service companies like Uber are changing the way cab service is carried out. With a push of the button, a car is on the way. For some cab drivers, the competition hurts.

“My income is less than it used to be,” said one taxi driver when we asked him if Uber has affected his business.

Many cab drivers are now responding to mobile app calls too. But because of existing laws, they can't charge surge rates like Uber often does. Surge rates at Uber can skyrocket at certain times.

D.C. councilmembers Mary Cheh and David Grosso are trying to level the playing field for taxi drivers. They say it is time to give them the same rights as Uber and other mobile car companies.

“If it’s engaging in an app type service, what we’re saying is that they can engage in the same kind of surge pricing or additional pricing,” said Cheh. “It could also be underpricing, so they are in competition.”

Under this new plan being proposed by Cheh, surge charges could only be approved for all cabs at certain times. Just like mobile service companies, drivers individually won't be able to raise and lower prices on their own.

“With street hails, you get in a cab, you have to have a set rate,” Cheh said. “You can't be negotiating as you’re driving to the airport.”

It is important to point out if you hail a cab and jump inside, drivers can only charge you the metered rate and that will not change. This new proposal will only affect mobile phone requests if it passed.

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