News & Politics

Taxis Required to Have Backseat Credit Card Readers By Next Week

No extensions this time.

Swiping in the backseat, presumably coming soon to all DC taxis. Photograph by Flickr user Wayan Vota.

Getting DC’s fleet of 6,500 taxicabs to accept credit cards has been a turbulent saga to date, and taxis face another deadline next week when they will be required to be outfitted with credit card readers mounted in the back for easy customer access.

Although taxis have come into compliance with the requirement to take plastic since September 1, the rollout has been uneven, with many cabbies only carrying credit card devices attached to a mobile phone or tablet computer mounted near the driver’s seat. But come Sunday, the DC Taxicab Commission will require all cabs to have backseat-mounted readers equipped with video screens that show advertisements and weather reports.

And unlike with other benchmarks that taxis have had to meet, such as the mere introduction of credit card payments, the commission will not be granting any extensions. DCTC spokesman Neville Waters says several drivers have asked, though.

“The expectation is that the vehicles will be outfitted,” he says. Taxi inspectors take Sundays off, but next Monday, Waters says, they will on the lookout for cabs without backseat credit card readers.

The rollout of credit card payments and other modernizations such as rooftop lights have been met with stiff resistance from cab drivers. More than 1,000 cabbies recently signed up for a drivers’ association organized by the Teamsters union, which is currently suing the DC government to stop enforcement of new taxi regulations.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.