Saturday, March 13, 2010

DC Taxi rules add costs for suburban passengers, and waste fuel and carbon

In the Washington DC area, apparently there is a rule that taxicabs from the District of Columbia to the Virginia suburbs (perhaps Maryland) cannot pick up passengers in the suburbs when returning to the District. A cab driver told me this last night as I returned from a “party” in DC.

What’s the point of this rule? It wastes fuel and adds to carbon emissions and pollution. If taxicab drivers could pick up passengers on return, their use of fuel would be more efficient, and their microbusiensses would be more profitable. Fares for consumers could be somewhat lower. This is particularly important late at night and on weekends, when Metro service faces cutbacks; everything that affects consumers’ transportation costs is important to note.

Is this featherbedding or protectionism?

During my post layoff jobhunt in the Twin Cities (Minnesota) in 2003, I looked at what becoming a cabbie would entail. From one company, you had to rent a cab for $440 a week, so you needed about 25 rides to make up the rent.

Washington DC’s FAQ’s on taxi rules is here.

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