Taxi Meters? Yes. Now the Hard Part.

Taxi! Taxi!

Mayor Adrian Fenty has finally brought 21st century Washington, DC firmly into the 20th century by mandating use of meters in the city’s taxicabs.

The District of Columbia first planned this move in the 1930s but Congress imposed a quaint zone sytem so members and staffers could have cheap rides to the office from their segregated neighborhoods. Housing patterns changed but Congress still tacked a taxi zone rider to every annual DC funding bill until now.

DC will soon have taxi meters like every other major city in the world. Now comes the hard part.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please regard Exhibits A and B (above). In every other city on Earth, Exhibit A (rooftop taxi light ON) means the cab is empty, available for hire; Exhibit B (rooftop taxi light OFF) means the cab is occupied or off-duty, unavailable for hire.

In the District of Columbia, A means “cab occupied;” B means “cab available.”

I imagine this unique rule or custom was developed by our city’s sportsmen, eager for greater challenges in hailing cabs on dark night-time streets. Other possible explanations violate city regulations and common courtesy and I simply refuse to consider them.

It is time for this peculiar practice to change. Please urge our elected and appointed officials to bring Washington’s taxi light rules into congruence with those of other cities and simple logic. Do not let them complicate things with any “Off Duty,” “Out to Lunch” or “Talking to My Homeboys on My Cell Phone” lights.

“On” for “available;” “Off for “occupied.” Simple.

9 Responses to “Taxi Meters? Yes. Now the Hard Part.”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    Actually, in my experience, Exhibit A could mean either “available” OR “occupied” and Exhibit B could ALSO mean either “available” OR “occupied.” INFURIATING!

  2. John Says:

    I don’t know who you are, but I love you. I have shouted “Turn your mother-f@#Cing light off!” at a passing cab more than once.

  3. Jamie Says:

    I was not aware that the light meant anything at all in DC. I’ve never noticed any relationship at all between the light and the availability of the cab.

    We also have this peculiar “Call 911” thing on cabs here. I’m not sure how that got started, but that light is turned on about as often as not. I’m fairly sure we shouldn’t be calling 911 every time some dumbass cab driver has the light turned on.

  4. Mike Licht Says:

    .Since the regular roof light is meaningless, no one will pay attention to “Call 911.” There is a “Call 911” light atop each Metro bus, too, but buses now have flashing lights like aircraft, so no one notices those, either. With flashing lights on buses and police cars, we may be at the point where vehicles without flashing lights attract more attention.

  5. JonboyDC Says:

    In my experience, ‘Exhibit B’ usually means “The light bulb burned out and I haven’t bothered to replace it.”

  6. Jeffrey Says:

    The reason the lights are meaningless is that, unlike every in other city in American, cabs are allowed it pick up other passengers while you’re already in the car. They don’t turn off the light because, technically, they’re always available.

  7. Erika Says:

    YES! I have always wondered why DC cabs are too lazy to use that light system. Again, every other city in the world uses it… wait where have I heard that before?

  8. Mike Licht Says:

    Jeffrey is correct, and ride-sharing is something else that will stop with the end of the zone system. Your driver can no longer stop to pick up another fare along the way, pretending the second destination is close to yours. Even that preliminary curb-side chat with prospective passengers slows your trip, and drivers rarely ask if you mind a ride share until this point, when the prospective passenger’s pleading eyes are on you.

    Goodbye to all that. Good riddance.

  9. Scott Says:

    “Call 911 Taxi” is about the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. As a visitor to DC, I spent two days wondering how a taxi company got away with the telephone number 911 8293 (TAXI). How many foreign tourists dial this number looking for a cab dispatcher.

    How do moronic things like this implemented?

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