Taxi Cab Meters Coming?

It appears that Congress, in its paternalistic view, now has an opinion as to how the District of Columbia should handle its taxi cabs. According to NBC 4, Congress has passed a law that will require metered taxi cabs, and abolition of the zone system, within one year. Lewis & Tompkins, PC has long represented taxi drivers both in personal injury matters and before the D.C. City Council on matters relating to taxi cab business and insurance. While we do not have a strong opinion on whether taxis should have meters or use the zone system. What concerns us is the very vibrant, dynamic and entrepreneural spirit that makes D.C. taxi drivers unique in America. Most taxi drivers are independent owner/operators. Most taxi drivers are self employed. Many taxi drivers work other jobs and supplement their income by hacking. We worry that making meters required will drive many of these part-time or self-employed drivers out of work. Meters are expensive, and expensive to maintain. Most part time drivers can not afford a large capital expense to install a meter. We also worry that meters may lead to the consolidation of all taxi cabs into large, undemocratic corporations to the detriment of the taxi drivers. It would be a shame to make a unique and exciting part of the city just another part of corporate America, making self-employed entrepreneurs just another wage-slave. We also resent the attitude of Congress when it imposes these very imposing their federal priorities on what is a very local issue. The D.C. Council has been looking at issues relating to taxi cabs more often, and have heard from their consitiuents, something Congress refuses to do on this issue. There were no committee hearings on how this “attachment” to an appropriations bill would affect our independent operator cab drivers in the District. Frankly, Congress does not care. Congressional representatives are all commuters, not residents who must live with the consequences of this type of legislation.

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