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DC Might Give Some Cab Drivers Even More Time to Install Credit Card Readers

After cab drivers protested the deadline by which they must add credit card readers, city officials will review their complaints.

Hundreds of cab drivers protested against a deadline to install credit card readers in their taxis. Photograph by Benjamin Freed.
The 200 or so cab drivers who staged a protest earlier this week over the impending deadline by which they must install credit card readers in their taxis have earned a partial victory. The DC Taxicab Commission announced late Friday afternoon that it will consider on a case-by-case basis the pleas of cabbies who say they were “unfairly denied” the ability to install the credit card devices by next Tuesday.

If drivers’ cases are heard favorably, it could mean an even longer wait until all 7,300 taxis licensed by the District will take credit cards. The original deadline was Sept. 1, but was kicked back a month after it became obvious during the summer that not even 50 percent of cabs would be finished by then. (The halfway point was reached only last week.)

The drivers flooded Freedom Plaza, across Pennsylvania Ave., NW, from the John A. Wilson Building, on Wednesday to say that the process to install new meters that can process non-cash forms of payment has been painfully slow because of equipment shortages and issues with the companies approved to install the new systems. A few drivers Washingtonian spoke with complained that some of the 10 companies the Taxicab Commission approved to install the devices canceled appointments and increased the rates they would charge for payment processing.

But the commission’s announcement today does not amount to yet another blanket extension. It is still going forward with its pledge to tow and impound any cab caught without a credit card reader starting Oct. 1.

“Although no extension of the deadline was granted, DCTC did agree to review the specific hardship circumstances provided only through DC Drivers United for Equal Rights to determine if any relief would be warranted,” the commission said in a press release, referring to the organization that staged Wednesday’s protest.

The commission did say that installation of credit card readers is trudging ahead, though. It projects about 5,100 taxis will be equipped by next Tuesday, when the towing order goes into effect, and that another 1,000 will be done by the first week of October.
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