Thursday, August 1, 2013

D.C. Students Will Need Cash for Cabs

Much as I loathe the wastefulness of using a credit card just to pay for cab fare from Union Station to Georgetown, or even George Mason University, I have to admit there are reasons why some students and cab drivers were hoping they'd be able to do that at the end of this month. D.C. cab drivers have been killed for the handful of cash they were hauling. Mike DeBonis reports:

The good news? Well, if you can call it that...once the credit card scanners are installed in the cabs, fares will increase! Like they weren't inflated already, to cover the very high hidden cost of being a big-city taxi driver.

Many years ago, Dave Barry suggested that New York cabs ought to be fitted with a sign notifying passengers, among other things, that "Driver just got here from some country where English is not spoken. Driver hates you." Not quite that many years ago, but back when my home town's economy still had a thriving taxicab service sector, at the request of a local cab driver I researched the conditions big-city cab drivers "enjoyed" (not!) and found that an accurate notice might well read "Driver hates his life," and yes, there's a reason why, although there are female cab drivers in the suburbs, I've never seen one in D.C.; the job is that bad. (It's been too long for my research to be worth posting now. Time for somebody in the city to do it over.)

Keep on tipping, Gentle Readers. The fare increases won't help the driver move into a nicer apartment--they're strictly to cover the high cost of paying credit card companies to manage the transactions. Be kind to cab drivers and (some of them) will be nice to you. And if you want to be able to pay your own bills, lose your fear of Metro.